Shipping things from your home can be very stressful. This is because we put so much time and effort into ensuring everything is correct so your package will arrive without any problems.
You must understand how shipping labels work to make labels to ship your products properly.
This is especially true when it comes to shipping out your package in a very specific window of time.
Here’s If Shipping Labels Expire:
Almost all packages will feature a “ship by date.” This is a promise from the shipping company that the package will be delivered by this date. This is your package’s expiration date because any package shipped after this date will be considered late or unfulfilled.
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Table of Contents
Do Unused Shipping Labels Expire?
Depending on your shipping company, there will be a specific time limit until the shipping label expires.
On average, you have about a month to use that specific shipping label before it is no longer usable. It is understandable to change your mind or no longer need to ship out something you have a label for, which may require you to reuse that label for a different shipment, but this is greatly discouraged.
This is because each label is specifically made for that one product you want to ship. The weight, size, and type of shipment may differ from the original package.
You always want to ensure that you properly and correctly label your packages. Using an old or unused label can create many problems, and your package is unlikely to meet its intended destination.
How Long Do Shipping Labels Last Before They Expire?
Each company has its own set of rules, but on average, this grace period is about 30 days, but here are the specifics so that you never miss a delivery.
UPS has a much higher-than-average grace period with its shipping labels.
You can use a printed label up to 90 days after printing it.
This gives you much more time to get the package together and ready for delivery.
However, you have far less time to get it together with the post office delivery. USPS considered any label created over 28 days to be “unusable.”
If this time has passed, you will have to either create a new shipping label or have one printed for you by USPS to deliver your package.
Lastly, we have FedEx. FedEx gives you the most freedom to ship when you are ready because their shipping labels don’t expire until 2 full years after it was made.
However, with FedEx, the label is only good for two years as long as it hasn’t been printed out yet. You can digitally create the label and put a “hold” on your delivery.
Once you are ready to ship, you can print out the label and ship it as long as it is within those 2 years.
With FedEx, you have two weeks to ship the item out once the label has been officially printed.
How Do You Check If a Shipping Label Is Still Valid?
If you are shipping with USPS, the best way to know if your shipping label is still valid is to take your package directly to your local post office.
When a USPS label has expired by only a day or two, they may still be able to fulfill the delivery without processing a new label. However, this only works if your shipping label has not been scanned.
UPS & FedEx:
When it comes to UPS, the best way to check if your shipping label has expired or not is to check the actual shipping label. Remember that your UPS label will be valid for longer if it hasn’t been printed yet, so only check the digital copy.
Your UPS shipping label will have a “ship by date” listed. Your shipping label is no longer valid if this date has already passed.
Since FedEx has the longest grace period with a shipping label, your shipping label will be valid for up to 2 full years. The best way to ensure you are still within this timeframe is to keep a record of when you first processed the shipping label.
Can You Use An Old Shipping Label?
Depending on the shipping company you are using, you may still be able to use that old shipping label you made months ago. The best way to find out if you can still use it is to ask.
If you are using USPS, stop by your local post office and ask and see if they will still honor your old shipping label. Chances are, if you can connect to them on a human level, they will let you ship your package right there regardless of what the shipping label says.
While UPS and FexEd are slightly more constricted when shipping something out with an old label, it never hurts to ask.
Can You Use An Expired Shipping Label?
If you’re lucky, nothing will really happen. The package will get scanned, shipped, and delivered without anyone being none the wiser, but you are taking a risk.
If the shipping company does not want to ship the package with an old label, it is their right to do so.
If you have already sent it off, you may find that the package will find its way back to your door with a note saying that your package could not be delivered. This means that you will not only have to make a new shipping label, but you will also have to re-pay the shipping costs.
Sometimes, the package will not even come back to you. It can be held up at a distribution or sorting center. If this happens, you will get a phone call or a letter stating that you have a specific time window to come and get the package.
From there, you can either choose to re-ship with a new label or give up.
Our advice is to not just send off a package with an expired label without first talking to the shipping company about it. You don’t want to waste all that time and money just because it is easier than printing a new label.
What Are The General Requirements For Shipping Labels?
Each shipping company has its own rules regarding the specific requirements for a shipping label. However, the required information is always the same.
The first – and most obvious – requirement is that the shipping label clearly states both the recipients and the return address. This way, the shipper knows exactly where the package is going and where it came from in case it needs to be returned.
Next, you need to note the size and weight of the shipment. This will help the company know the best way to ship this package.
You will also need to state the delivery type. The delivery type controls how much the shipping is and when it will arrive.
While most people prefer to use standard shipping, paying for a premium type of shipping will ensure that your package reaches its destination much sooner than with standard shipping.
Lastly, the shipping label must have a scalable barcode that will be generated once the label is made. This will keep all of the important information digitally so that every time your package makes a stop, they will know exactly where it is going and when it should be there by.
What Do You Do If a Shipping Label Is Expired?
If you are on your way to ship that package you’ve been putting off shipping only to find that the label is no longer valid, you have three options.
First, you can ignore the expiration date and send it off like normal. However, as mentioned, there are quite a few risks with this strategy which ultimately can result in your package never being delivered.
Second, you can talk to your shipping company to see if they will still honor the expired label. This is the best option because the worse that will happen is they say no, and then you end up just having to make a new shipping label.
There is also a chance they will allow it, saving you time and money.
Lastly, you can accept the loss and print a new shipping label. This isn’t too hard to do since most companies prefer you to use their online label-making feature, which makes label-making super easy.
Remember that depending on your company, you may have to pay a little extra for a brand-new shipping label.