Shipping Basics

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2012
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

** Click for easy to read **
USPS Rate Charts–updated May 31, 2015
and links to confirm the current rates on USPS

If you are selling online you’ll need to learn about shipping your goods. It can seem overwhelming–especially international shipping–but with a little practice you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Below are links to all the vital shipping tips on the blog, this page will be updated when more are added. To get notices when new posts are made in general, feel free to subscribe to our blog using the links on the left.

For the most part these posts are geared toward folks shipping from the US. Links with a purple asterisk at the end contain info that should be helpful to folks shipping from outside the US too.

If you don’t have a scale already, I recommend getting one–they are well worth the small investment. If you can’t find a good price for one locally, you can usually get one for less than $30 including shipping from places like Amazon and Ebay (plus they are a tax write off). Sometimes you can get a used one free–we got one free from my husband’s office a few years ago when they no longer needed it, you can also see if you can get one free through free recycling groups in your area like Freecycle ( — also great for recycled shipping supplies.)

A scale will help you set your rates when listing and will help you when you are printing shipping labels with postage online-a great time and energy saver! (You also get discounted postage and Delivery Confirmation when you buy postage online, so it’ll save you money too, paying for itself.)

We always package up an item to see what it will weigh, even if it will be unpacked to store it until it sells. Once you know what your item in packaging will weigh, it will be easier to set accurate shipping rates.

So far I only have information about the US Postal Service as it is the most commonly used and most economic for the majority of the packages folks seem to ship. If you are shipping oversized items or very heavy items Fed Ex or UPS will sometimes be a better deal.

Links will open in a new window:

Shipping Basics
Shipping 101: The basics
Shipping: Service Choices: First Class Mail, Priority…
Getting a Handle on International Shipping:
Using First Class International makes setting your rates easy!
USPS Shipping Rate Charts–this post helps you see how the rates change at different weights for First Class Domestic & First Class International.
USPS Shipping Zone Tool:
You’ll need this to figure out Priority Mail domestic rates when using the USPS Shipping Charts.
Priority Mail: by Weight or Flat Rate?
Often shipping by weight is a much better deal!
Shipping Insurance: Yes you can insure international First Class! Information on third-party insurance companies that will cover domestic and international packages–insure all services, not just First Class, for less than the PO charges.
What is Self-Insurance?: Paying for insurance isn’t always the way to go–sometimes self insurance is more affordable for both you and your buyers.
What can’t I mail? Some things just aren’t allowed in the US postal system.
Missing package? Package missing its contents?
Find out what to do about it here.
Getting a PO Box–Protect your personal info. It may be rare to be harassed, but better safe than sorry.
How Etsy’s “With Another Item” works*
Many buyers & sellers have a hard time understanding how Etsy’s Secondary Shipping functions, until they read this post.
Figuring Out Your Secondary Shipping Rates *
Ship with another item demystified: Getting accurate secondary shipping rates doesn’t have to be difficult.

Shipping Labels
Shipping Labels Through Paypal:
Once you start shipping from home, you’ll never want to go back to standing on lines at the PO.
PP Shipping 2:
Shipping Through Paypal–Regardless of How the Customer Paid
Info for creating labels for items paid for by check or money order, or even for just sending gifts to friends & family…
International First-Class: Print Labels From Your Computer
Paypal doesn’t offer them yet, but if you have PC you can still have nice printed labels for your International First Class Mail packages without paying a fee. (Sorry, this free program is not available for Macs though you can print your International First Class labels with websites that charge you a monthly fee for their services.)

You can also use it for domestic labels and while you’ll still pay retail rates (unlike when you use Paypal or other online labels with postage where you get a discount on postage), you’ll get Delivery Confirmation free.

Can’t find UK (United Kingdom) in USPS’ Click-N-Ship? Here’s why.
Etsy Shipping for Etsy Direct Checkout Users

More on International Shipping
Don’t miss the Getting a Handle on International Shipping and Shipping Insurance For First Class International links above!
Do I need a customs form?* The short answer is:
You need a customs form if your package has “potentially dutiable contents”.
Click this post’s link for the long answer and the links to the page on the USPS website where you can see this for yourself.
International Shipping: Prohibited & Restricted Items: Link to the USPS list, but it’s also good to check the actual country’s own customs page it possible.
Clarification of New International Mail Rules (2012) Info on the rules and how to submit customs forms online.
Marking Your Package “Gift” on the Customs Form:
Not unless you are sending an unsolicited gift to someone you know.
Can I ship jewelry through International First Class Mail? If it is of “nominal value”… see the post for more details & links.
Shipping to Germany? There’s a something you should do.

*Helpful to folks shipping from outside the US too.

If you are still unclear on anything feel free to post a comment or join me here:

Updated July 29 2012

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2012
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)