UPS, FedEx, DHL, & More

USPS Flat Rate Shipping, Boxes & What it Means

Jules

by Jules

On 2018 M11 7

by Jules

As an eCommerce store owner, you've probably been looking for affordable and convenient shipping options. We're going to go out on a limb and say that you've come across flat rate shipping as an option, and that it may sound appealing for your business.

You might have read that this shipping option saves a lot of money, but before you take that leap, it's best to understand what this shipping option is all about.

In this post, we'll discuss what flat rate shipping means and the variety of services that the United States Postal Service (USPS) offers if you're interested in moving forward with this option.

What is Flat Rate Shipping?

Flat rate shipping is a shipping service that you can find offered by a variety of couriers, notably USPS. It's major feature is that it charges one rate regardless of the weight of the package.

If you're shipping very heavy items and it happens to be able to fit within the various packaging options provided, this could potentially save you money on shipping costs.

How Does Flat Rate Shipping Work?

USPS offers different box sizes and envelope types, all with different pricing. As long as your item fits within the packaging and it is below the weight limit, you only have to pay that specified price - making the calculation of your flat rate shipping costs easier.

USPS Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes


Many businesses like using USPS' flat rate service because the boxes and envelopes are provided free of charge. Also worth noting is that the shipping label must match the box you already have.

Apart from being under the weight limit, it is also important that the content of a given box or envelope fits inside properly, without requiring any modifications to the packaging, such as altering the folds.

Does Flat Rate Shipping Include International?

It sure does! For USPS flat rate international shipping, you can ship to more than 190 countries. For a complete list, visit USPS' Index of Countries and Localities for more information and potential restrictions for your destination country.

Additionally, with domestic flat rate boxes, you can ship packages to any location within the United States.

USPS Flat Rate Restrictions

There are definitely restrictions on what items can be shipped. You can't ship ammunition, gasoline, airbags, explosives, cigarettes, marijuana, and any other form of tobacco in flat rate boxes.

For flat rate shipping domestically within the US, the maximum weight approved for each package or envelope is 70 lbs.

For USPS international flat rates, the maximum weight for Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes is 4 lbs. Additionally, the maximum weight for medium and large Priority Mail International Flat Rate Boxes is 20 lbs.

It's also worth noting that some countries may have lower weight restrictions.

How Long Does Flat Rate Shipping Take?

For domestic service, the delivery timeframe is usually between 1 to 3 business days.

With the USPS international flat rate service, the delivery timeframe is quoted as 6 to 10 business days.

USPS Flat Shipping Costs

Here are some popular USPS flat rate envelope and box sizes, and their pricing in 2019:

Packaging Dimensions Maximum Weight (Domestic) Cost (Domestic, Retail Price) Maximum Weight (International) Cost (International, Retail Price)
Flat Rate Envelope 12 1/2" x 9 1/2" 70 lbs $7.35 4 lbs $25.85
Small Flat Rate Envelope 10" x 6" 70 lbs $7.35 4 lbs $25.85
Padded Flat Rate Envelope 12 1/2" x 9 1/2" 70 lbs $8.00 4 lbs $25.85
Small Flat Rate Box 8 11/16" x 5 7/16" x 1 3/4" 70 lbs $7.90 4 lbs $26.85
Medium Flat Rate Box - 1 (Top-Loading) 11 1/4" x 8 3/4" x 6" 70 lbs $14.35 20 lbs $49.60
Medium Flat Rate Box - 2 (Side-Loading) 14" x 12" x 3 1/4" 70 lbs $14.35 20 lbs $49.60
Large Flat Rate Box 12 1/4" x 12 1/4" x 6" 70 lbs $19.95 20 lbs $64.50

Using Flat Rate Shipping For eCommerce


While the free supplies and pricing relative to weight may make flat rate shipping seem alluring, it may not be the best solution for the following reasons:

  • Pricing is not as transparent. Some customers like to see a complete breakdown of shipping costs, and it's hard to show them with a flat rate. It also doesn't provide adequate information on duties and taxes, making it difficult for overseas customers to determine if additional fees could be added.
  • It may cause you to overspend on shipping if you're not careful. To determine whether you're actually saving money on shipping, you'll need to know at what weight and which distance that the flat rate becomes competitive. With the multiple variables involved to calculate this, it can be really hard to keep track of.  

However, Easyship now offers USPS flat rate shipping options on our platform, and when used with our algorithm, you can efficiently ensure that flat rates only apply to qualified shipments as they are being processed! Learn more.

Conclusion

While flat rate shipping sounds good in theory, it's best to analyze your business' shipping needs and costs to ensure you do not overspend on shipping.

As a best practice, we suggest providing at least 2 options at checkout that show calculated rates so customers can readily see if it's best to use the flat rate option (or choose a faster delivery option if needed).

For more information about how to offer this option for your store, install our Rates at Checkout feature – it's free!

Originally posted November 6, 2018. Last updated June 20, 2019, to reflect updated USPS pricing.