Shipping Labels 101: Answers to 6 Common Questions

Shipping Labels 101: Answers to 6 Common Questions. A shipping label is one of the key factors in getting a package to its required destination. It contains identifying information about the package, as well as serves as proof of postage and (for international packages) as a customs declaration. If you don’t ship often, you might have some questions about shipping labels. Well, we’re here to answer them!

What Is a Shipping Label?

shipping label is a sticker or a sheet of paper attached to each package before it is shipped out. It contains information that allows to identify the package and deliver it to its destination. Shipping labels issued by various shipping carries might slightly differ from one another, but all of them contain the same basic information:

  • name, address and contact number of the sender
  • name, address and contact number of the recipient
  • gross or dimensional weight of the package
  • shipping type/class (level of service)
  • barcode or QR code for scanning the package into the system and tracking it
  • tracking number
  • list of items inside the package and their value (for international shipments)
  • shipping date and estimated date of delivery
  • any other relevant information

What Are Shipping Labels For?

As we’ve already said, a shipping label serves several purposes. It provides all the information required to deliver the package to its destination (or to return it to the sender) and serves as proof of postage (a shipping label is printed once the sender has paid for shipping).

For international packages that go through customs, shipping labels also serve as a custom declaration form since they contain a list of items inside the package and their value. In case a package gets damaged in transit, this information will come in handy when you submit an insurance claim.

Where Do I Get a Shipping Label?

The most common way to get to a shipping label for your package is going to a post office, where an employee prints a shipping label and pastes it onto the package once you pay for shipping. However, the most common way does not mean the only way. You can also print a shipping label yourself and save time on your post office trip.

How Do I Print a Shipping Label at Home?

To print a shipping label, you can either create an account with your shipping carrier of choice or use a third-party service that allows to generate shipping labels with multiple carriers. Third-party services, such as PostageMaker, have several benefits compared to online tools provided by shipping carriers.

First, they usually cooperate with multiple carriers and allow to compare the carriers’ rates and choose the best option. Second, they often offer significant shipping discounts thanks to deals with carriers.

No matter which of the two options you choose, printing a shipping label at home is as easy as 1-2-3: all you need to do is fill out the label template and choose a shipping carrier and service, pay postage (by the way, PostageMaker offers several payment options in addition to your credit or debit card), and print the label or save it as PDF to print later.

How Much Does It Cost to Print a Shipping Label?

Neither carriers nor third-party services charge customers any fees for the service of printing a shipping label. What they charge for is postage, i. e. the cost of delivering your package to the required destination. When you print a shipping label at home, you are charged the same amount you would pay at a post office, and sometimes even less (for example, PostageMaker allows to save up to 25% on shipping compared to the official rates).

Do I Need Any Special Supplies to Print a Shipping Label?

There is a common misconception that you need a thermal printer for self-adhesive labels if you want to print shipping labels at home. However, such printers are typically used by e-commerce businesses; if you don’t run a business and only ship packages occasionally, a regular printer and office paper will do. To attach the label to the package, you can use glue or packing tape.