What Is Small Parcel Delivery?

June 16, 2023 Deyman Doolittle

Small parcels make up the bulk of shipments worldwide. From personal items to retail packages, small parcel delivery is integral to the global logistics network. In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of small parcel delivery, exploring its definition, processes, and the key players shaping this essential industry.

What Qualifies as Small Parcel Delivery?

Small parcel delivery refers to the transportation of lightweight packages from source to destination. While there is no universally accepted weight limit, small parcel delivery typically involves packages weighing up to 70 pounds. However, since ‘small parcel’ isn’t clearly defined, it can include packages up to 150 pounds. Packages weighing more than 150 pounds are considered freight by most carriers.

The rise of e-commerce has significantly increased the demand for small parcel delivery services. According to Statista, in 2022, retail e-commerce sales were estimated to exceed 5.7 trillion U.S. dollars, and this trend is expected to continue.

Examples of small parcel delivery items include clothing, electronics, books, accessories, and household goods. Online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay heavily rely on small parcel delivery to fulfill customer orders.

Small Parcel Delivery - UPS

At UPS, packages 70 pounds and below are considered small parcels. You may be charged an added ‘heavy package' fee if your parcel weighs over 70 lbs. Regarding size, small packages can be up to 165 inches in length and girth combined.

UPS Small Parcel Delivery Rates

The table below shows the rates for sending small parcels via different UPS services.


UPS Small Parcel Service


UPS Next Day Air Early

UPS Next Day Air

UPS Next Day Air Saver

UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.

UPS 2nd Day Air

UPS 3-Day Select

UPS Ground

1–10 pounds








11–20 pounds








21–30 pounds








31–40 pounds








41–50 pounds








51–60 pounds








61–70 pounds









Small Parcel Delivery - FedEx

FedEx instructs that shippers should place black and yellow safety heavyweight labels over the

diagonal corners of the package if it weighs more than 75 lbs. From this, we can infer that FedEx considers packages weighing 75 lbs and under small parcels.

FedEx Small Parcel Delivery Rates


FedEx Service


FedEx First Overnight

FedEx Priority Overnight

FedEx Standard Overnight

FedEx 2Day A.M.

FedEx 2Day

FedEx Express Saver

FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery

1–10 pounds








11–20 pounds


$62.53–$ 249.16


$36.28–$ 206.09




21–30 pounds


$78.85–$ 336.87






31–40 pounds




$74.31–$ 362.84


$61.81–$ 259.57


41–50 pounds




$94.83–$ 438.26




51–60 pounds








61–70 pounds









The Process of Small Parcel Delivery: From Sender to Recipient

Small parcel delivery involves several steps to ensure the smooth transportation of packages from the sender to the recipient.

  1. Package preparation - The sender prepares the parcel, carefully packaging and labeling it with the necessary shipping information.
  2. Pickup - The package is picked up by the chosen carrier or dropped off at one of the carrier’s outlets.
  3. Sorting and loading - Packages are sorted and loaded onto the appropriate transportation method, such as trucks or planes, for transit to the destination zone.
  4. Final delivery - Finally, the package arrives at the local facility nearest the recipient, undergoes another round of sorting, and is finally delivered to the recipient's doorstep or designated delivery location.

The package's label is scanned throughout the small parcel delivery process, and tracking updates are provided on a portal. Using a tracking number, both the sender and recipient can view the shipment’s status, ensuring a seamless and reliable small parcel delivery experience.

Efficient small parcel delivery networks rely on advanced tracking technologies, automated sorting systems, and optimized routing algorithms to ensure timely and accurate deliveries.

What Is the Fastest Small Package Delivery?

Small package delivery services have different delivery times. Below are the different speed levels of small package delivery services:

  1. Standard Delivery: This is the most common and most affordable option, offering a reasonable delivery time for small packages at an affordable price. It typically takes between 2 and 5 business days for the package to reach its destination

        Examples of standard delivery services: FedEx Ground, UPS Ground.

  1. Expedited Delivery: Expedited delivery is quicker than standard, often guaranteeing delivery within 1-3 business days.

        Examples of expedited delivery services: UPS 3 Day Select, FedEx Express Saver.

  1. Express Delivery: Express delivery is ideal when the parcel is needed urgently at the destination.

        Examples of express delivery services: FedEx First Overnight, UPS Next Day Air.

  1. Same-Day Delivery: Same-day delivery is the fastest small package delivery service. It is designed for very time-sensitive shipments. Relief food and medicine are some of the items that would require same-day delivery.

        Examples of same-day delivery services: FedEx SameDay, UPS Express Critical.

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