How to Ship Oversized UPS Packages

We know that when it comes to your business, you like to think big! We also know when it comes to ground and express package sizes, thinking big is often very literal.

We receive a lot of questions about just how big a package can be before it incurs a UPS® oversized package surcharge, when it's best to ship via LTL (less-than-truckload) freight instead of small package service, how dimensional weight works, and many other oversized package-related issues.

Consider this your bite-sized primer for the big world of UPS oversized package shipping! And should your oversized package be irregularly shaped or made up of dangerous goods, check out our resource for tips on how to ship those too.

How UPS defines oversized packages

It seems pretty simple on the surface: the larger and heavier your package is, the more it costs to ship. Every small package carrier defines an oversized package a little differently, however.

If a package shipped through UPS meets any of the following characteristics, it's considered oversized and may be subject to Over Maximum Limits charges and/or be required to ship via LTL service:

  • The package weighs more than 150 pounds
  • The package is more than 165 inches of combined weight and girth
  • The package's length exceeds 108 inches

Any discussion about packaging dimensions has to include an explanation about the importance of dimensional weight. Read on for the basics of this vital concept.

What is dimensional weight and why is it important?

Dimensional weight, commonly called DIM weight, refers to how much space a package occupies relative to its actual weight. Your package may be lightweight, but if it takes up a disproportionally large amount of space on a truck, plane, or package car, it's going to cost more to ship. Packages with a large size-to-weight ratio require DIM weight calculations and usually require special pricing.

When UPS calculates your shipment's billable weight, it uses the greater of the package's actual weight or DIM weight. Entering accurate dimensions during the shipment quote process is crucial, so it's important to know how to calculate DIM weight. Here's the process:

  1. Determine the actual weight. Use any standard scale to determine the actual weight of your package.
  2. Determine the DIM weight. To determine the dimensional weight in pounds, divide the cubic size of your package in inches (the product of multiplying your package's length x width x height) by 139. Round up any fraction to the next whole pound.
  3. Determine the billable weight. Compare each package's actual weight to its dimensional weight. As mentioned above, the larger of the two weights is the billable weight and should be used to calculate the shipping rate.

Cost-effective ways to ship oversized packages

Now that you're up-to-speed on how UPS defines oversized packages and the importance of DIM weight calculation, it's time to explore your options for getting the best bang for your oversized package shipping buck.

  • Right-size your packaging. One of the simplest ways to avoid a UPS oversized package fee is to use the smallest box possible for your shipment. Shrinking your package's size by just a few square inches or packing it in a more standard shaped box could greatly decrease DIM weight charges.
  • Divide and conquer. It may make financial sense to ship several smaller, lighter packages versus one larger and heavier one. Consider divvying up your items in to multiple, smaller packages if you can. The separate fees you pay for multiple packages are often less than oversized package surcharges.
  • Consider LTL freight shipping. Another potential way to ship oversized packages more economically is to ship via LTL freight. If your shipment is large and heavy enough to incur a freight price, consider scaling up and shipping it via LTL freight to avoid unnecessary fees.

Worldwide Express is your oversized package shipping partner

Sometimes you still need big help when it comes to big packages. If you still have concerns about figuring out when exactly your package is considered oversized, calculating its DIM weight, determining when it's time to scale to LTL freight, or any other oversized package concern, Worldwide Express (WWEX) is there for you! The pros at your WWEX office have seen it all and shipped it all, regardless of package size and shape. They can walk you through the oversized package process and help you save as much time and money as possible. WWEX is always there for you in a big way!