What Is Considered a Small Parcel?

April 14, 2023 Deyman Doolittle

There are many small parcel shipping companies in the U.S. and worldwide, each with unique weight standards and pricing systems. As a shipper of small goods, you may be left wondering what is considered a small parcel since a package that is deemed a small parcel by one carrier may be classed as an overweight package by another.

In this blog post, we'll dive into the world of small parcel shipping and explore some key factors determining its classification.

Small Parcel Definition

Generally, a small parcel is defined as any package weighing less than 150 pounds (68 kg). However, the weight limit for small parcels varies, sometimes greatly, from carrier to carrier. The size and dimensions of small parcels also range.

What Does UPS Consider to Be a Small Parcel?

UPS considers packages weighing up to 150 pounds and measuring up to 165 inches in length and girth combined to be small parcels.

What Is a Small Parcel at FedEx?

Below are the general ranges of weight and dimensions that are typical with small parcels according to FedEx:

With FedEx Ground services, you can ship packages up to 150 lbs. (68 kg) in weight, up to 108" (274 cm) in length, and 165" (419 cm) in length plus girth.

With FedEx Express services, you can ship packages up to 150 lbs. (68 kg), up to 108" (274 cm) in length, and 130" (330 cm) inup length and girth.

USPS Small Parcel Definition

For the United States Postal Service (USPS), packages weighing up to 70 pounds and measuring up to 130 inches in length and girth combined are considered small parcels.

Parcels weighing more than the weights above are considered 'oversized' or 'overweight' and are charged at special rates. For extra large or bulky shipments, you may need to transport them using the freight option of your carrier.

Dimensional Weight — Another Way to Measure Your Package

Besides actual weight and size, carriers may also use dimensional weight calculations to determine if a package is a small parcel. Dimensional weight is calculated based on the package's volume rather than its actual weight.

For example, if a package is lightweight but takes up a lot of space, it may be classified as a larger parcel and charged accordingly. This extra cost is because carriers have to allocate more space on their trucks and planes to transport the package.

Shipping carriers use the following formula to calculate the dimensional weight of a package:

Dimensional weight (in pounds) = (Length x Width x Height) / Dimensional Factor

A dimensional factor is a number determined by the carrier that represents the amount of space a package occupies relative to its weight.

The resulting dimensional weight is used to determine the prices of your shipment.

Small Parcel vs LTL vs FTL

We've established that, in general, a small parcel is a shipment that weighs less than 150 pounds (68 kg).

Less-than-truckload (LTL), as the name suggests, is a shipment that is bigger than a standard-sized package but is not big enough to take up the full capacity of a truck. It is ideal for shippers with a total cargo weight of 150 to 15,000 pounds.

Full truckload (FTL) or Truckload (TL), on the other hand, is when the entire capacity of a truck is dedicated to one homogenous shipment. In other words, shipments from different senders are not mixed on one truck.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Small Package?

It is known that one of the best and fastest ways to improve your bottom line is to cut down on expenses. Well, shipping costs can be a huge expense for a business that mails packages often. Below we will look at ways to ship your parcels for the lowest possible rate.

Pick the Right Carrier and Shipping Service

The first step to finding the cheapest package shipping is researching carrier options.

USPS is often the most cost-effective option for small packages, especially lightweight items. The postal service offers flat-rate boxes and envelopes, which can be a great choice if the package fits within the standard package dimensions.

FedEx and UPS also offer competitive rates for small parcel but may be more expensive than USPS for certain destinations or package sizes.  

Ultimately, the price you pay determines how long your parcel will take to arrive.

Cheapest Shipping Services

If your package weighs 13 oz. and below, USPS First-Class Package Service is the cheapest shipping option. For packages larger than 13 oz, USPS Ground offers the lowest rates.

Another option for affordable shipping is FedEx Ground Economy, a collaboration between FedEx and USPS. This service is designed for outbound home deliveries and returns that are lightweight, low-value, and nonurgent. It offers a lower-cost alternative to FedEx's standard shipping options.

How it works: The package is shipped through FedEx and then transferred to USPS for final delivery, which can take longer but is more cost-effective.

UPS also offers several options for cost-effective shipping, including UPS SurePost and UPS Mail Innovations. Like FedEx Ground Economy, these services involve UPS handling the initial transport and handing it over to USPS for final delivery.

Pack Your Shipment Properly

Focus on the right packaging strategy to save money on small parcel shipping. By sticking to standard package dimensions, you avoid extra fees and surcharges.

You can also cut costs by using recycled packaging materials or reusing boxes. All you have to do is ensure the box is in good condition and meets the carrier's packaging requirements.

Get more info on FedEx, USPS, and UPS box sizes and prices.

Use Cost-Saving Tips

Browse the internet to unearth small parcel shipping tips from shippers like you. For example, consider shipping during off-peak times to save money on shipping costs.

How ShipSigma Can Help

If you ship small parcels often and are looking for the lowest rates, then ShipSigma is your ideal solution. We have served over 300 companies, saving our customers an average of 25.2% in shipping costs. Get in contact today, and let's help stretch your shipping budget.

Meta description: Small parcel refers to small and lightweight shipments that tend to fall under their own carrier guidelines.

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