The USPS shipping rate changes are now fully in effect. Aside from a general rate increase of 3.9% across all shipping services, there is an important change to be aware of if you ship large envelopes or flats going First Class International.
Prior to January 21, 2018, it’s been possible to ship both documents and merchandise internationally in a Large Envelope/Flat via First Class Mail International as long as the package meets the following dimensional restrictions:
However, Large Envelopes and Flats going First Class International can only contain documents—no merchandise! If you are shipping merchandise, there are three options you can consider instead of Large Envelopes/Flats.
First Class Package International Service
This is the most cost effective shipping method offered by the USPS for international shipping. With First Class Package International, you can send mailpieces up to 4 lbs (cannot exceed $400 in value). Restrictions may apply based on country destination.
There are some important Rules & Restrictions, however:
- Maximum weight is 64 oz
- Maximum combined length, height, and width is 36 inches (42 inches for rolls/tubes)
- Some countries have specific prohibitions and restrictions
- Does not come with a guaranteed delivery window
If quick turnaround is not an issue, First Class Package International is the best way to get your package to its destination in a cost-effective way. However, if a delivery window is required, you may want to check out the next method.
Priority Mail International
Priority Mail International provides reliable and affordable international delivery to more than 180 countries. Plus, you can get free shipping supplies from USPS.
Some features of Priority Mail International shipping:
- May qualify for free Package Pickup service at your home or office
- Delivery in 6 to 10 business days
- Includes USPS Tracking®
- Includes up to $100 insurance for non-negotiable document reconstruction and up to $200 insurance for merchandise for loss or damage
Also available to you (when shipping to certain countries) is Priority Mail International Flat Rate. With this option, you pay the same rate regardless of weight and country of origin when shipping to anywhere in a specified country. For example, if you’re shipping to Great Britain from the United States, you’d pay the same rate regardless of final destination in Britain.
Now, of course, the tracking and delivery window comes with an added cost over First Class Package International, so you’ll need to evaluate how much of that you want to absorb or pass on to your customers around the world.
There is one more way to counter this change in international shipping from the USPS.
International consolidator service
Here at ShippingEasy, we always try to make things easier on you as an online retailer. So in our shipping app, when shipping internationally via First Class Mail International, you’ll see two entries for the Large Envelope/Flat: one for “documents” and one for “merchandise”. If you’re mailing documents, you’ll select the “documents” option and generate the international label as normal. If you’re mailing merchandise, this is where we made a change.
In the ShippingEasy app, if you select the “Large Envelope/Flat – merchandise” option, the label will be automatically generated for the USPS consolidator service. This means that you’ll receive a domestic label to mail the package to the consolidator sorting facility in the U.S.
Once they receive the package, they’ll overlay the package with its corresponding international label and ship it to the destination (Good news: the shipment only requires one tracking number. You’ll see both domestic and international events on the same tracking number.).
A major bonus here is that the customs forms are all sent electronically so you have nothing else to print! Though the cost of the service isn’t as inexpensive as the extremely cheap First Class Mail International Large Envelope/Flat option, delivery time is comparable and it’s significantly less expensive than the cost of the First Class Package International Service.
Navigating the changes the various carriers make can be confusing. But we’re here to help.
Learn more about the new shipping rates from USPS, FedEx, and UPS, by downloading our free E-Commerce Seller’s Guide to Shipping Rate Changes!
Latest posts by Rob Zaleski (see all)
- 2020 Shipping Rates: What the Changes Mean for E-commerce Merchants - November 12, 2019