Tips to Avoid Shipping Surcharges

Shipping surcharges can be an unwelcome surprise for both businesses and customers. These additional fees are added to the shipping cost by the courier and are often the result of various factors such as incorrect measurements, address issues, and packaging problems. To help you navigate the world of shipping surcharges and minimize their impact on your shipping expenses, we've put together some valuable tips and insights.


Understanding Shipping Surcharges

A shipping surcharge is an additional fee imposed by the courier for services or situations that fall outside the realm of standard shipping. These surcharges are designed to compensate for the extra expenses incurred by the courier due to various factors, including additional processing, unusual deliveries, or unique shipping circumstances. Products with exceptional requirements or situations often lead to the application of surcharges. 

To learn more about common and carrier-specific surcharges view: Understanding Postal Surcharges

Avoiding Surcharges: Exact Measurements Matter

One of the most common reasons for shipping surcharges is inaccurate measurements. To reduce the likelihood of adjustments and extra charges, follow these tips:

  • Measure Multiple Times: Accurate measurements are key. Measure your shipments multiple times to ensure precision in weight and dimensions.
  • Rounding Up Dimensions: Round up your package dimensions to the nearest weight or pound. This can help prevent discrepancies that might trigger surcharges.
  • Calibrate Your Scale: Before weighing your packages, confirm that your scale is correctly calibrated to avoid inaccuracies in weight measurements.
  • Check Carrier Restrictions: Consult the carrier's official website to understand their service restrictions and dimensional limits. This knowledge can help you choose the right shipping service and avoid unexpected fees.

Avoiding Address-Related Surcharges

  • Address-related surcharges can be easily avoided by always verifying the accuracy of the recipient's address. Typos or missing information can lead to address-related surcharges.
  •  When shipping to a business, be sure to add in a suite number if it’s a multi-business address rather than just the business name
  • If you're uncertain, consider using an online address validator to verify the accuracy of the address.

Surcharges Due to Packaging Issues

Surcharges due to packaging problems often arise when packages do not meet the courier's requirements. Here are some common reasons for packaging-related surcharges:

  • Size: Ensure your package's dimensions do not exceed the minimum or maximum limits set by the courier.
  • Weight: Verify that your package is within the acceptable weight range. Packages that are too light or too heavy may incur additional fees.
  • Shape: Avoid irregularly shaped packages that cannot be processed automatically on conveyor belts. This includes tubes, L-shaped boxes, or boxes glued together.
  • Quality Materials: Packages are audited multiple times throughout their journey. Ensuring you use sturdy materials that hold up and retain their shape in transit is essential. 
  • Special Handling: Packages labeled as "fragile" may incur additional handling charges. Use appropriate packaging materials to protect fragile items.
  • Legibility: Make sure the shipping label is clear and readable. Incorrect or illegible labels may require relabeling, leading to extra costs.

UPS Packaging Advisor

UPS Packaging Guidelines

FedEx Packaging Guidelines

DHL Packaging Guide

How to Measure a Box Correctly

Measuring a box accurately is essential to avoid surcharges related to incorrect packaging. Follow these simple steps:


Note: Internal Dimensions: Remember, printed box dimensions always refer to internal measurements and would not be the measurements audited in transit.


Here's how to measure a box correctly:

  • Length: Measure the length of the box from the opening.
  • Width: Measure the width of the box at the opening.
  • Depth (Height): Measure the depth (height) of the box from the opening.

Express these dimensions in millimeters, as it is an industry-standard unit of measurement. Typically, box dimensions are provided in the following order: Length x Width x Depth (height). For example, 800mm x 400mm x 100mm.


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Be sure to watch this informative video provided by the United States Postal Service for extra guidance on measuring your shipment accurately.

By following these recommendations and gaining insight into the factors contributing to shipping surcharges, you can reduce the chances of incurring additional fees and enhance the efficiency of your shipping procedures. Don't allow unforeseen adjustments to surprise you – proactively implement these measures to sidestep them and cut down on your shipping expenses.  To learn more about surcharges check with each carrier or view Shippo’s article: Understanding Postal Surcharges.

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