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Small Parcel vs. Freight Shipping... What is the difference?

Understanding the basics you need to know in order to converse in the world of small package and freight shipping will provide key intelligence needed to efficiently ship your product.

Small parcel shipments are under 70 lbs per and shipped in your own packaging or carrier supplied boxes.  These shipments are not sent on pallets and often move through a small package shipping system with carriers such as UPS, FedEx, Courier Service, or DHL for international.

Packaging exceeding the following criteria are best shipped via freight service rather than small parcel.

o  Packages can be up to 108 inches (270 cm) in length
o  Individual packages can be up to 150lbs (70kg)
o  Each package can be up to 165 inches (419 cm) in length and girth (2x width & height) combined
o  Dimensional weight calculations are required with a large size-to-weight ratio (multiply length x width x height/166= dim weight in pounds for US shipments)

Further details on size and weight limits for standard small parcel shipping can be found at

USPS also works closely with small parcel carriers delivering packages via FedEx SmartPost, UPS SurePost, or UPS Mail Innovations.  Or, you can work directly with USPS for sending express packages and priority mail.  Numerous shipping options can be found at

Some clients utilize courier services for small package shipments, especially is they are required to arrive the same day.  These companies often utilize airlines to get shipments to there destination on the same day.

Freight shipping involves multiple modes of transportation including LTL (less-than-truckload), TL (truckload), Ocean, and Intermodal (Rail).  These shipments are generally over the size and weight limits listed above and are stacked and secured on a wood or plastic pallet for easy loading, stability, and protection of the cargo.  These shipments can move via ground, air, ocean, rail, or any combination of these.  There are thousands of freight carriers offering these services.

LTL shipments are sent along with other cargo providing a reduced cost for transport in a trailer that is normally 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet tall.  A shipment greater than 525 cubic feet is generally moved less expensively via FTL.  Rail services are also providers of FTL freight.  Further information including quotes can be found on similar websites such as

Freight forwarders, 3PL's, and Truck Brokerages also offer services and consultant advise for shipping freight.  They provide the best carrier and rates based on your requirements and coordinate all efforts from start to finish insuring safe, efficient transportation for your shipment while also providing additional resources.

Any questions or for further information, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.  24/7 Support including Chat can be found at
or by emailing us at  Sales Support can be reached at 800.550.7217 ext 856.
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  1. Ethan B.

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  1. sam opigez

    The information provided is great but kind of old. Now all become under the same services and company like , and few  other offer both.
    Everything is automated these day!