USPS and UPS are pretty lenient when it comes to the shape of your package, but sometimes you might need to ship what's known as an "Irregular Package" 📦

An irregular package is basically anything outside of normal packaging, dimensions, and weights for both USPS and UPS services. Some examples of these kinds of packages are mailing tubes, or anything that isn't inside a cardboard box, envelope, or poly mailer. Items with unbalanced dimensions such as fishing rods or guitars would also be considered irregular packages, as well as packages with one side that's 1 inch or less (for UPS specifically).

Other common types of irregular packages are things that are shipped without any packaging, like tires, or things shipped in wooden crates.

Look for the "Irregular Package" checkbox under the Extra Services drop-down

Whenever you're shipping one of these types of packages, you'll need to designate it when creating your label 👍 You can find check the "Irregular Package" box underneath the Extra Services drop-down menu, in the same place where you select other options such as Return Labels and Insurance:

Tubes are irregular packages

If you're shipping a tube, you also need to select the "Irregular Package" box, since both USPS and UPS consider tubes as irregular packages. Here's what to do when shipping tubes with both USPS and UPS:

Sending a tube with USPS

When making your label, select the "Box or Rigid Packaging" package type from the Type of Packaging dropdown, and enter in the dimensions just like if the tube was rectangular. You'll be charged the same rate as if it were a box.

If you're using a USPS-branded Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express Tube, you'll need to select the proper corresponding service from the Choose a Service dropdown before you click "BUY." For instance, if you're using a Priority Mail-branded tube, you need to buy Priority Mail postage.

Sending a tube with UPS

For UPS, follow the same process; select the "Irregular Package" box and then choose the "Box or Rigid" package type from the Type of Packaging dropdown menu. Next, enter the dimensions as though the tube were rectangular, and you're all set👌

If you're using the UPS Express Tube, mark it as an "Irregular Package," and select that specific packaging option from the Type of Packaging drop-down menu when creating your label. Here's an example of how that looks:

"Cardboard sandwiches" are also irregular packages

Keep in mind that packages resembling "cardboard sandwiches" with relatively flat items inside (for instance, a box with two longer dimensions and a third that's a couple of inches or less) also get categorized as irregular packages.

Some examples of items that are typically sent in "cardboard sandwich" packages are signs, paintings, and mirrors.

When shipping with UPS, these sorts of packages may trigger an Additional Handling surcharge that you'll need to pay on top of your original postage. This happens because UPS needs to sort these unbalanced packages by hand, and they then impose an adjustment on your account for the cost.

Irregular packages affect UPS services more than USPS

If you're shipping with USPS, selecting the "Irregular Package" option won't change things much.

On the other hand, UPS adds an Additional Handling surcharge on top of the cost of postage. So, when shipping an Irregular Package, be prepared to pay a little extra if you choose to ship with one of the UPS services 😅

Selecting the "Irregular Package" option won't prevent the Additional Handling surcharge from UPS, but it will keep it from being a surprise carrier adjustment on your account, and you won't have to pay the $1 "Shipping Charge Correction Audit Fee" that UPS charges for adjusting your shipment in the first place.

Additional Resources

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