Beginning on April 3, 2022, USPS will impose surcharges known as “non-standard fees” on certain shipments. Imposing surcharges is a common practice for other shipping carriers, and additional fees are to be expected whenever you ship with UPS in particular. However, since USPS has never imposed these sorts of surcharges on packages before, many shippers might be in for a rude awakening. This guide is all about understanding these new USPS surcharges, when they will apply, and how you can avoid them.
Table of Contents
- What are USPS Non-Standard Fees?
- Services Impacted by the USPS Surcharges
- When Will I Need to Pay these Non-Standard Fees?
- How to Avoid the New USPS Surcharges
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 less 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:
- $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
- $15 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
- $15 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
Pro Tip: You technically can’t buy First Class Package labels if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches, so the first two surcharges probably won’t apply as long as you’re entering accurate dimensions and shipping First Class Package. However, you could still get hit with the $15 if your package is over 2 cubic feet in volume, and then you’d also get hit with the $1.50 fee on top of that, as well.
Services Impacted by the USPS Surcharges
Non-standard USPS fees apply to the following domestic shipping services:
- First Class Package Service
- Priority Mail (and all of it’s sub-services such as Priority Mail Flat Rate, Regional Rate, and Priority Mail Cubic)
- Priority Mail Express
- Retail/Parcel Select Ground
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’s 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 your 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 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.