The Cheapest Ways To Ship Heavy and Large Items

the cheapest way to send heavy and large items

Shipping bulky items can come with a hefty price tag. However, if you know the right tips, tricks, and strategies, you can get your products shipped at a lower cost. 

The key here is to plan accordingly. You can keep your shipping expenses down with a bit of effort and research. You also need to consider various factors, such as your goals, package weight, package volume, and destination. 

Lastly, choosing the right packaging and selecting the best carriers can significantly affect your shipping costs. 

In this article, you will learn a few tips and techniques for keeping your shipping costs low while still ensuring a secured delivery of your items.

What Is Considered A Large Item?

An item is considered a large item to ship when it exceeds the maximum size limit of the carrier. The size is commonly measured by the length and the girth of the box or packaging of the item. 

Each carrier has different size limits. Here are the example size limits of four major international carriers: 

  • For USPS, the maximum size for a standard package is 108 inches in length and girth.
  • Both FedEx and UPS have a limit of a total of 130 inches in combined length and girth.
  • Amazon considers an item oversized when it exceeds the 60 inches length limit.

What Is Considered A Heavy Item?

Similarly, the items for shipping are considered heavy items when they exceed the maximum weight limit of the carriers:

  • USPS has a weight limit of 70 lbs for all sizes.
  • UPS and FedEx both have a maximum weight limit of 150 lbs.
  • Amazon's weight limit is 70 lbs.

In cases when the items for shipping are considered heavy or large, they can no longer be shipped through parcel shipments or normal-sized packages. Instead, they will be shipped as freight shipments, which means that they will be charged extra or special freight charges.

man carrying heavy box

Important Things To Consider When Shipping Heavy and Large Items

If you're planning to ship large and heavy items, here are a few things to consider to help you ship your package at a lower cost.

Your Overall Shipping Goals

The first thing to consider is your shipping goals. Having specific shipping goals will help you decide what you want to happen before, during, and after the shipment of your items.

The shipping goal will largely depend on you and your customer's preferences. For example, if you value speedy shipping times, then it is best to choose a carrier that delivers fast. On the other hand, if the safety of the items is your top priority, you will need to invest in high-quality packaging and premium delivery handling. 

Volume Weight

Remember that volume weight is different from the actual weight of your item. While the actual weight of the package refers to its physical weight or how it really weighs on a scale, its volumetric weight is the volume or how much space is occupied by the package. 

You can calculate the volumetric weight of a package in kilograms by multiplying its length, width, and height and by dividing the product by 5000, as the equation below:

volumetric weight (kg) = (L x W x H) ÷ 5000.


Let's say you are shipping out 5 kg of pure cotton in a box with 100 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm dimensions. The actual weight will be 5 kg. Using the equation above, you can calculate that the volumetric weight is 50 kg. Clearly, 50 kg is greater than 5 kg. Therefore, your shipping cost will be for a 50-kg package.

The volumetric constant may differ according to the type of service or the rule of your chosen carrier. The most common volumetric constant is 5000 m3/kg for international shipping. However, some carriers use 4000 m3/kg.

This constant is determined according to the destination, the carrier, and the type of freight, that is, whether it's by air, road, or sea.

courier dispatching large items

You may find that most carriers consider the volumetric weight of your package rather than its actual weight. This is because they tend to depend on their pricing on whichever is greater between the actual weight and the volumetric weight of the item to maintain profitability. In most cases, the volumetric weight outweighs the actual weight.

As a business owner, you need to understand how volumetric weight is calculated so you know what cost to expect and plan accordingly.

For example, if your volumetric weight is too high, making air shipping unreasonable, then you may need to consider other economical shipping methods like using ocean freight. 

Furthermore, if your packages are small and you're having multiple of them, then combining these packages into a single shipment can help you save money on shipping. This is because regardless of their volumetric or gross weight, small-sized packages are usually subject to minimum shipment fees. 

Destination and Origin

Generally, the farther is the destination of your item from its origin, the longer it takes to arrive and the higher is the shipping cost. However, you can cut down your shipping cost by choosing a carrier with more shipping locations.

For example, if you are shipping internationally to Canada, you may consider an international carrier with several shipping locations inside Canada. Having more shipping locations means that it is more convenient for a carrier to ship your package and more convenience means that they will charge lower shipping rates.

Fragile Items

Fragile items always need an extra layer of protection to ensure safe delivery. Fragile, large, and heavy items would need even more packaging protection. The thing is, as you add more protection, you are also adding weight to your package, which will lead to a higher cost.

Be smart when shipping fragile items and choose lightweight protective materials that would not take up a lot of space. Some examples to use are bubble wraps, air pillows, and packaging foam fillers.

Furthermore, opt for a carrier that is known to handle fragile shipments well rather than going for one with fast delivery, which might damage your package.

The Rules and Restrictions Of Your Chosen Carrier

Some carriers are more flexible than others in terms of fragility, weight, and size. Whatever rules your carrier has, these will surely influence your cost. 

Familiarizing yourself with the different rules and restrictions of your chosen carrier will eventually pay off in the long run. It will save you much time when packing your items and booking a shipment. It will also save you a great amount of money by doing an error-proof, no return to sender, and no additional charges kind of shipping experience. 

Who knows, maybe you may even find loopholes in their rules and restrictions that will let you ship your items at a lower price.

Shipping Speed

When shipping large and heavy items, you will also need to consider the time frame for shipping. If you need the item to arrive quickly, you will need to pay for expedited shipping on top of the additional charges due to the extra size and weight of your item. Most carriers offer expedited shipping options for an additional fee.

By choosing the shipping speed that best fits your shipping goals, you can avoid these additional charges. You may also ensure the earlier arrival of your package at a lower price by shipping it on an earlier date via standard shipment.

Tips For Shipping Large and Heavy Items

Shipping large and heavy items is inevitable when you are in an e-commerce business. Therefore, it is best to know some useful tips and techniques when shipping these kinds of items.

Make Sure To Use Heavy-Duty and Durable Packaging

One way of ensuring that your items are safe and well-protected during shipping is through your packaging. You have to make sure that your packaging materials can properly hold and protect your large and heavy items. Avoid those that are susceptible to breaking. If you're using boxes, use those that are staples at the seams, not glued, so they can preserve your package during shipment. 

Other heavy-duty and durable packaging materials to consider are our biodegradable packing tapes and mailers at Impack.

By using these products, you're not only sending your packages in style while ensuring their safety; you're also helping the environment as our tapes and mailers break down into water, biomass, and carbon dioxide without leaving any toxic residues.

Investing in heavy-duty and durable packaging may be costly at first. However, this is still relatively cheaper than having your items break or damaged during shipping due to cheap and unreliable packaging.

ecommerce business owner talking to courier for large item shipment

Compare Carrier Rates

Comparing the shipping rates of different carriers helps you choose which of the rates best suits you. When comparing carrier rates, do not only look at their standard shipping rates. Instead, try to see what their weight and size limits are and how much additional fees they charge for oversized packages. By doing so, you will know what to expect and see if it fits your budget.

Consider Insurance

You are not required to purchase shipping insurance for your items but you may want to consider having one. Insurance may cost you a higher fee, but it is still a good investment because of the benefits it gives your business:

  • Firstly, insurance is useful when luring consumers into buying your products. Consumers tend to buy items that they are sure to be well-secured and safe.
  • Insurance can also give you peace of mind knowing that your items will be taken extra care of during shipping.
  • When lost or damaged, insurance can cover the declared value of your items and you can have a refund for everything you have paid for. 

Have Accurate Measurements And Weight Readings

Make sure that all your measurements and weight readings are accurate. In that way, you can calculate beforehand your expected shipping cost and other fees and charges. This will also help prevent additional surcharges due to wrong weights and measurements. With accurate information, you can also find the perfect packaging for your items, as well as the right protective packaging materials.


When shipping large and heavy items, expect a delay in shipping. It takes a longer transit time to ship these items.

Try to have access to tracking your items so that you and your customers can see the current destination and shipping progress of your items.

Always Check With The Couriers For The Limit Of Flat Rate Boxes

Flat rate refers to the fixed shipping cost of all items that can fit inside any of the small, medium, and large standard boxes of the couriers. Couriers have different sizes of flat rate boxes and different rates:

  • For Canada Post, it's no more than 5 kg/box.
  • For USPS, 70 lbs is the weight limit for all sizes. For its parcel mail pieces, the maximum size is 108 inches in combined length and girth, while the USPS Retail Ground pieces may measure up to 130 inches.
  • UPS and FedEx both have a weight limit of 150 pounds for all sizes of packages. Packages can be up to 108 inches in length or 165 inches in length and girth combined. 

For large and heavy items, you have to expect that they can be too large to fit any of the courier boxes or weigh more than what is maximum for standard shipping. Therefore, you may need to pay for additional surcharges. 

Comparing The Top Carriers

The priority choices when shipping items are always the top carriers. Let us take a look at each of them and see which carrier is the best for shipping large and heavy items.


When it comes to size and weight limits, USPS can be too limited. This makes it ideal for affordable shipping of lightweight items, media mail, and fragile items. However, it offers a wide variety of shipping options from priority express mail to express mail and retail ground. These options let you ship items as early as the next day.

For oversized and overweight items, USPS charges an additional fee from $4.00 up to $15.00 depending on the excess measurements.

Consolidated freight (TSI)

Items that weigh over 150 lbs are considered freight shipping. When you ship your items using consolidated freight services, they will not be measured by their weight or size but by the space they take up in the truck.

Consolidated freights can ship large and heavy items from 200 lbs up to 600 lbs in secured palletized packages. Some of the items ideal for consolidated freight shipping are furniture, artworks, antiques, and other high-value items. 

Through freight shipping, there are fewer checkpoints, which means that your items have less risk of loss or damage. Most importantly, items in consolidated freights are handled by experienced and skilled professionals for safe shipping and delivery.

Parcel shipping (UPS or FedEx)

Parcel shipping can be through UPS or FedEx, which are known for their detailed tracking and express delivery of parcels.

UPS and FedEx both have standard package limits higher than that of UPS, but lower than that of consolidated freight shipping. Therefore, UPS and FedEx could be perfect for standard parcel shipping of medium-sized items.

Key Takeaway

Shipping large and heavy items can be more expensive than shipping standard objects. However, you can lower your shipping costs by following these tips, techniques, and strategies.

For more business tips and tricks, click here. 

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