USPS Non-Standard Fees: A Guide to Understanding the New USPS Surcharges

Learn about the new surcharges USPS will impose on certain shipments beginning April 3, 2022
USPS Non-Standard Fees
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USPS imposes surcharges known as “non-standard fees” on shipments that exceed certain size thresholds. Imposing surcharges is a common practice for other shipping carriers, and additional fees are to be expected whenever you ship with UPS in particular. That said, USPS historically never imposed these sorts of surcharges on packages (at least before 2022, when this practice began). This guide is all about understanding these USPS non-standard fees, when they will apply, and how you can avoid them.

Table of Contents

What are USPS Non-Standard Fees?

The non-standard service fees are surcharges that apply to shipments when the dimensions are greater than certain lengths. In essence, USPS is charging these fees for larger packages that take up more space on their trucks. The more space a package takes up, the fewer opportunities USPS has to transport other packages in the same truck, earn more revenue, and operate more efficiently.

Here is a breakdown of the USPS surcharges, and the length thresholds for when they kick in.

For USPS Ground Advantage Shipments

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $8.40 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $18 for packages greater than 2 cubic feet in volume
  • $1.50 for missing or incorrect dimensions that result in any of the above non-standard surcharges; think of this like an “overdraft” fee that USPS charges for imposing any of these non-standard fees

For Priority Mail & Priority Mail Express Shipments

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $18 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $30 for packages greater than 2 cubic feet in volume
  • $1.50 for missing or incorrect dimensions that result in any of the above non-standard surcharges

Services Impacted by the USPS Surcharges

Non-standard USPS fees apply to the following domestic shipping services:

  • USPS Ground Advantage
  • Priority Mail (and all of its sub-services such as Priority Mail Flat Rate, Regional Rate, and Priority Mail Cubic)
  • Priority Mail Express

The only domestic USPS shipping service that the non-standard fees will not apply to is Media Mail. At the time of publishing this guide, international USPS services won’t be affected by non-standard fees.

When Will I Need to Pay these Non-Standard Fees?

If the dimensions of your package meet the length thresholds we listed above, you’ll be prompted to pay these surcharges when you buy your label at the Post Office, or when you use shipping software to buy discounted postage online. However, if you don’t enter accurate dimensions when buying your pre-paid label online, you might incur these surcharges after you ship once USPS runs your package through their Automated Package Verification System.

How to Avoid the New USPS Surcharges

There are a couple of strategies you can employ to avoid these new surcharges from USPS, which we go into below.

Optimize Your Packaging (Keep it as Small as Possible)

First thing first: size matters in the shipping industry, and smaller is almost always better! You can ensure you don’t have to pay these new USPS non-standard fees by keeping your packaging as small as possible. When the longest dimension of your box or envelope doesn’t exceed 22 inches in length, you won’t have to worry about paying any USPS surcharges!

If you’re looking for a new place to source your smaller packaging from, ULINE has plenty of options that will fit the bill. You can even run a search for specific sizes to make sure all the box options that show up are less than the size thresholds where USPS will hit you with surcharges!

Take Advantage of Free USPS Priority Mail Boxes

The second way to avoid these new non-standard USPS fees is to take advantage of the free Priority Mail boxes that you can have delivered right to your door. In case you didn’t know, you can order free Priority Mail packaging directly from the USPS website that you can use to ship your packages! Except for small (1098S) and medium (1098) Priority Mail/Priority Mail Express tubes, none of the Priority Mail boxes and envelopes on the USPS website come with a single dimension longer than 22 inches. So, you’ll automatically avoid the non-standard fees by using them. You can also order free Priority Mail Express on the USPS website, too, if you’re trying to get your packages to your recipients as fast as possible.

Pro Tip: If you decide to use any of the free USPS packaging, you’ll need to pay for the exact service marked on your USPS-branded box or envelope. If you don’t, USPS will charge you the difference in postage. You can read about the importance of paying for the right service marked on your USPS-branded boxes here.

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  1. Julia

    On May 16, 2023 I mailed a box to Koror Palau and was charged a total of $50.70. The box weight: 22lb 11oz cost $25.70 with dimensions: 19x14x14, Nonstd Volume, it says item over 2 cu ft, an additional charge of $25. was added on. That’s outrageous. Can someone from Post Office explain why, the counter clerk couldn’t explain she claimed that she didn’t understand, that the machine asked for dimension and that she did know how it works.

  2. Kathi

    I just mailed a box to Guam. 18x18x13. I was charged $25! So not sure where the 1.50 or even $15 charges went. I didn’t notice til I left the grumpy post office lady. I was trying by to hurry and get out since it was quitting time. I even commented on the price being higher than the last time I shipped a large package. But not explanation just grumpy and extra costs. Kind of a bummer.

    • Steven Wheeler

      I believe the $15 was due to the package being over 2 cubic feet in size. Next time compare prices with UPS or FedEx. I have found that reducing the box size even a little and help to lower the shipping cost with UPS. I love my box resizer tool. It is funny that I can shipping some items in the same box size that are a pound or two more for the same price. I use pirate ship website to compare pricing and adjustments to large box sizes to see differences in shipping costs. Hope this helps

  3. Patty

    It’s extortion charging extreme rates for a box that measures 31 inches

  4. Gerry

    I just paid for a package that incurred some of the fees you mentioned but I didn’t get that $1.50 charge.
    I got the $4 fee for over standard length and the $15 for over standard volume.

  5. brandin keel

    Can’t mail golf clubs and be efficient anymore, cost me 30 to ship a club I sold for 50

  6. Steven Wheeler

    I have seen a couple of hacks that might be worth a try. One was shipping a 27 inch movie poster in a 21.5″ X 20″ X 5″ box. The movie poster is rolled up like normal, but goes in the box diagonally. The box is a lot bigger, but is under 22 inches, Hopefully the weight will not go over 1st Class. They also showed the same for 42 inch movie poster in a box that would cost you $4 instead of $15 (I believe that box was 27 X 24). So maybe this would work for other products like skateboards? Or go to UPS.

  7. Bryan

    These new charges are basically going to put my skateboard company out of business. I charge $55 for a skateboard and now it’s $30 dollars to ship one from my home to California.

  8. Caitlin

    and with that…. to UPS we go!

  9. Christian

    The USPS is unbelievable. A $15 fee for a tube over 30”? It wouldn’t bother me so much if the PO wasn’t so negligent and careless with my priority mail. Screw you. I’m going to UPS.

  10. Jody Braun

    We mail flat desk calendars in a flat cardboard mailer with dimensions of 27in by 20in by .25in and print a metered Retail postage tape at our company plus 25.5×2 in calendars tubes on our postage machine. Do we need to add the surcharge to the mail price then

    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Jody – that logic would make sense! It looks like both of these packaging options will incur the $4 surcharge from USPS…so you could add that in your shipping fees that your customers pay, if you wanted to.

  11. Steven Wheeler

    In your “Take Advantage of Free USPS Priority Mail Boxes” to use the free USPS boxes because they do not exceed 22 inches is incorrect. The USPS Priority Medium and Large Mailing Tubes are 38 inches and longer (these are free on the USPS web site). Will these boxes be exempt from the non standard fees, or cost the additional $30 fee?

    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Steven – great catch, and thanks for your patience with my reply! From my understanding, the small 1098S tube will incur a $4 surcharge (since the longest side is longer than 22″ but shorter than 30″), and the medium 1098 tube will incur a $15 surcharge (the longest side being longer than 30″). I hope this helps!


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