Must Shipping Labels Be Waterproof? (Explained)

A shipping label may look like just an ordinary piece of paper, but it is very important.

A shipping label contains essential information about a package that helps ensure its correct and timely delivery. Because of this, shipping labels have to be able to withstand different weather conditions.

Shipping labels generally need to be waterproof or have some protection against water and moisture. This is to prevent the markings from getting smudged.

Here’s Why Some Shipping Labels Should be Waterproof:

Depending on the location, packages may be subjected to different kinds of weather. Excessive moisture or rain can ruin barcodes, making scanning and keeping track of packages difficult. The shipping label is important for getting the package to its destination, so it must remain dry and legible.

Can You Make a Shipping Label Waterproof?

Most shipping labels are not waterproof, especially those created using an inkjet printer.

This is because inkjet printers use water-based ink. The print is not waterproof and tends to smudge if the shipping label gets wet.

The best way to create waterproof shipping labels is by printing them using a laser printer. Laser printers are generally better when printing waterproof documents but are also more expensive, and not everyone has access to these printers.

Another way to create waterproof shipping labels is by using a thermal printer. This type of printer can only print on sticker papers, which are generally waterproof and scratch resistant.

This printer also uses heat instead of ink to make labels that cannot be smudged, but if you only have an inkjet printer and you are using regular paper, you can still make a shipping label waterproof.

Here are two ways to do it:

Place Transparent Waterproof Labels on Top of Shipping Labels:

If your shipping label is printed on regular paper using an inkjet printer, you can stick a clear waterproof label on top of your shipping label.

These transparent labels have their own adhesion so that you can attach them to shipping labels like a sticker. 

Check Out Avery Address Labels for Laser & Inkjet Printers Here!

These clear labels can come in a glossy or matte finish. They are often made of polyester or other plastic material, so they are completely waterproof.

These clear labels serve as a protection to prevent your shipping labels from getting wet and smudged.

Place a Strip of Packaging Tape on Top of the Shipping Label:

Buying transparent waterproof labels can be an added expense, so this second option is much cheaper.

Just take a piece of packaging tape that is big enough to cover the entire shipping label and stick it on top of the label.

Packaging tapes are generally waterproof. They also have strong adhesion and are good enough to waterproof your shipping labels. Do not use regular tape or Scotch tape, as these tapes do not stick long enough.

When using packaging tape to waterproof your shipping labels, make sure that it lies flat and that there are no air pockets on the tape. This is to ensure that the barcode will be readable by the scanner.

Why Should You Waterproof Your Shipping Labels?

Even though the carriers do their best to handle and protect your package, it may still be subject to different outdoor elements such as heat, rain, and moisture. These elements can damage your shipping label by scratching it or smudging it.

It would be best if you waterproofed your shipping label because you can never tell what your packages go through while in transit.

If your shipping label gets damaged, you may be unable to track it. The carrier may also encounter some errors when scanning it if the barcode gets smudged.

However, waterproofing the shipping label or the address is unnecessary if you send mail or smaller parcels that fit the mailbox. This is because these types of mail are often placed in bigger containers protected from different outdoor elements.

How Do You Know If Your Shipping Label Is Waterproof?

In general, if you purchase a paper made for a shipping label, you should be able to check if it is waterproof by reading the packaging. You can also check on the manufacturer’s website if the material is waterproof.

Most sticker papers that are made for creating shipping labels are automatically waterproof. These shipping labels are usually made from polyester or polyethylene.

It is not waterproof if you made the shipping label by printing it using an inkjet printer on paper. Still, you can waterproof it by following the tips given above.

What Type Of Adhesive Is Normally Used On Shipping Labels?

There are three main types of self-adhesive materials that you can buy to create labels.

Each type of adhesive works differently:

  • Permanent – This type of adhesive is the most affordable one out there. It is also the most commonly used. Once you stick a permanent adhesive on a surface, it can no longer be removed, and if you attempt to remove it, it will be damaged.
  • Repositionable – This adhesive gives you time to reposition the label before it permanently sticks to the surface.
  • Removable – This type of adhesive lets you remove it from the surface so you can straighten it, reposition it, or even reuse it.

The type of adhesive normally used for shipping labels is the permanent one.

It is recommended that you use permanent adhesive for shipping labels. This is to ensure that the shipping label is securely attached to the package with no risk of it coming off and getting lost in transit.

How Long Do Shipping Labels Usually Last?

Even though shipping labels look like ordinary pieces of paper, they have an expiration date.

The expiration date of shipping labels refers to the last day you can use them after generating or printing them.

How long shipping labels last depends on the carrier. This is because each carrier has its own policy for a shipping label and up to how long you can use them.

Let’s check the policies for each carrier:

US Postal Service:

USPS shipping labels last the shortest out of all three carriers.

 Generally, these shipping labels expire soon, but the validity can still depend on the local post office. It can also depend on the discretion of the post office staff.


FedEx shipping labels expire much later than USPS labels, but expiration dates may vary. 

As a general rule, a FedEx label generated on the website or mobile app can be printed for up to two years, but once you print it, you only have two weeks to use it before it expires.

Once the two weeks have passed, you can no longer use the printed shipping label, and you would have to generate and print a new one again.


UPS shipping labels also have a longer validity date compared to USPS labels. 

Depending on the online shipping program that you are using, UPS shipping labels normally expire after 100 days. This is the standard validity period for their shipping labels.

After generating a shipping label, UPS gives you 100 days to use it. 

If the shipping label was purchased through the UPS Digital Access Program, you could still use it after 100 days have passed, and UPS will still accept it.

When sending a package, the best practice is to waterproof the shipping label. This is to ensure that the label is protected from different outdoor elements, so you do not risk damaging or smudging it.


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