4 Things to Look Out for When Printing Shipping Labels Yourself

4 Things to Look Out for When Printing Shipping Labels YourselfMore and more people prefer to print their shipping labels themselves because it saves them time, money, and effort: when you create shipping labels yourself, you don’t have to stand in line in the post office plus you are usually given a discount. However, if you’re not very familiar with printing shipping labels online, you can make a mistake that will cost you money or prevent your package from arriving at its destination. Here are four things to look out for when you print shipping labels yourself.

Are there any mistakes in the shipping label?

Although it is possible to void an unused shipping label (i.e. a shipping label that hasn’t been scanned into the system by the carrier) if it contains any incorrect information, it’s better to avoid it by double-checking everything before you click Print, especially taking into account that you might be charged a cancellation fee. What exactly do you need to double check when printing a shipping label online?

The short answer is: everything. Everything must be perfect. However, you should pay extra attention to the recipient’s name and address (especially the ZIP code because if it is wrong, the rest of the address doesn’t really matter; your package will be shipped to the area corresponding to the ZIP code) and the dimensions of your package because they determine it’s dimensional weight, which, in turn, determines the shipping cost in most cases.

When you create an international shipping label, you also need to pay special attention to its part that serves as a customs declaration. It is the part where you list the items in your package, along with their quantity and value. This information is required for customs authorities to determine a) whether your package can enter the destination country and b) whether any duties or taxes apply to it. If you make a mistake while filling out the customs declaration form, or worse, knowingly provide incorrect information to avoid customs duties, there will be problems.

Is your shipping label readable and scannable?

Each shipping label has a unique barcode that gets scanned at each sorting facility along the way; that’s how carriers keep track of packages. If the barcode has any imperfections, your package may take more time to arrive or even get lost in transit. To avoid it, take a close look at the barcode of your shipping label once you’ve printed it:

  • It shouldn’t be too pale (if it is, your printer probably needs a new cartridge).
  • It shouldn’t have any smears or smudges.
  • It shouldn’t have any wrinkles or creases.

When you attach the shipping label to the box, make sure the barcode is protected from the elements (an address pouch made of clear plastic will do the trick), as well as that it is not folded over the edge of the box or covered with packing tape (even clear tape can make the barcode hard to scan because it’s reflective).

Is your shipping label attached properly?

You don’t want your shipping label to fall off and get lost; it’s actually worse than an unscannable barcode. Place the shipping label into an address pouch and affix it to the largest side of the package, which is aptly called the address side, with clear packing tape. As we’ve already said in the previous paragraph, you need to make sure the shipping label isn’t bent, folded, wrinkled, creased, or covered with packing tape.

We also recommend that you put a backup shipping label in the box in case the one affixed to the package gets damaged or lost. When you create shipping labels yourself using online services, you can print as many copies of a shipping label as you want to use as backup.

Are there any old shipping labels on the box?

Some carriers allow reusing old boxes; it is a good way to save some money on packaging. If you decide to do just that, don’t be in a hurry to affix the freshly printed shipping label to the box. First you should remove any trace of old shipping labels, stickers, and markings. If any of them cannot be removed without damaging the box, paint them over with a black marker.