Saturday, May 18, 2019

USPS DIM pricing for oversize packages takes effect on June 23, 2019

girl holding oversize box
Some US online sellers may receive a nasty surprise in June

Within a month, online sellers will say "hello" to DIM pricing. This change was originally supposed to go into effect in January. It is such a big change that postal officials delayed it until June 23, 2019.

What is Dimensional Weight (DIM Weight)?

Also known as DIM weight, this will kick into effect when packages are over one cubic foot. It raises shipping prices of your large, lightweight shipments.

Why this change?

The reasoning is that the postage paid will now cover the space a package takes up on a truck or airplane (not just the physical weight of the package). 

How is Dimensional Weight Calculated?

a cubic foot is 1728 cu in
How to calculate dimensional weight
If your package is bigger than one cubic foot, you are in Dimensional Weight territory. 

166 is known as the "Dimensional Weight divisor" (which had been 194 and for FedEx and UPS is 139).

(L x W x H)/166 = the "DIM weight"

Then it all comes down to the actual weight of the package. If it is more than the DIM weight, you pay that. If it is less than the DIM weight, you will pay the DIM (higher) weight price.

Note that dimensional weight changes in pricing apply to all domestic Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and non-Lightweight Parcel Select packages that measure over one cubic foot.

For all packages over 1 cubic foot, the rate paid for shipping will start at the DIM price. (It will of course be even higher if the package weighs more than the DIM weight.)


All current pricing examples were calculated using Pirate Ship.

Example 1

This sample calculation is for a very lightweight 14 x 14 x 14" box. In this case the price change will be drastic:


  • Box size: 14x14x14"
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • $7.42 to zone 1/2 
  • $7.88 to zone 4
  • $35.33 to zone 6 via Priority (DIM rate)
  • $9.50 to zone 6 via Parcel Select
  • $47.06 to zone 8 via Priority (DIM rate, Priority Express is actually cheaper)
  • $10.56 to zone 8 via Parcel Select

Using dimensional weight after June 23

  • (14x14x14)/166 = 16.5
  • 16.5 rounds up to the 17 lb. rate
  • DIM $13.88 to zone 1/2
  • DIM $20.35 to zone 4
  • DIM $ to zone 6
  • DIM $52.29 zone 8 Priority
  • DIM $51.94 zone 8 Parcel Select
  • UPS and Fedex are actually cheaper, at $28.98

(Alternatively, if your 14x14x14" item weighs 17 lbs already, you will still pay that rate.)

Example 2

This is a heavier package, at 10 lbs.


  • Box size: 16x12x10"
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • $9.38 to zone 1/2 
  • $11.69 to zone 4
  • $25.39 to zone 6 
  • $36.32 to zone 8

Using dimensional weight after June 23

parcel with balloons
The old way
  • (16x12x10)/166 = 11.56
  • 11.56 rounds up to the 12 lb. rate
  • DIM $11.32 to zone 1/2
  • DIM $15.95 to zone 4
  • DIM $30.01 to zone 6
  • DIM $42.20 to zone 8 

Alternative shipping

Although USPS package rates have increased significantly in 2019, they remain for the most part a better deal than Fedex or UPS. The DIM weight divisor the two private carriers use is even smaller, at 139. As a result their prices are generally even higher. However, they may be worth a try.


You are not alone in this; you have company: any other seller with similar items has the same issue. So it is not like any of us has much of an advantage over the other.

Etsy's shipping calculator will make the changeover easy. However, don't make any errors with your package dimensions, as they could prove costly.

What can you do?

Knowledge is power: measures can be taken to minimize negative impacts in your shop.

1. Use the smallest box that will do the job.
2. Consider selling your items in ways that will minimize their size, such as partial disassembly.
3. Sell items in numbers/ways that minimize shipping cost.
4. Stay informed on how to minimize overall shipping cost, like taking advantage of cubic rates.
5. Look into other carriers, like Fedex and UPS.
6. Be proactive: take steps to keep shipping prices as low as possible. Your customers will thank you with more business. 

Additional steps I am taking

My husband and I live in an apartment. Before this change I had already been working on scaling the size of my items down. 

As I go to publish this, I am now looking at all of the packaging supplies I use. I have already ordered bubble wrap, and soon will buy some bulk padded envelopes. And I will be evaluating new types/sources of packaging that will become more competitive with such a drastic increase of shipping rates for oversize packages of packaging supplies.

I have been checking the few oversized items I have and most are heavy enough for these rates not to be a huge factor.

What about free shipping in view of the new rates?

We all know that there is no such thing as "free shipping." Someone pays for it. 

Dimensional Weight Pricing will make calculating accurate shipping costs even more important. What profit margin are you comfortable with?

It might be worthwhile to peruse your selling history. Where is your customer base? (And of course, who are they?)

Free shipping may not be a viable option for your shop if most of your buyers are on the opposite coast and your packages are oversize.

Still confused?

After June 23, 2019, all packages over 1 cu ft shipped within the USPS will be charged by volume, not weight (unless the weight is over 10 lbs of course).

  • A 12.5" x 12" x 12" box will ship for a minimum of the 11-lb rate for  $11-$40, depending on zone.
  • A 13" x 12" x 12" box will ship for a minimum of the 12-lb rate for  $11-$42, depending on zone.

These new rates for packages over 1 cu ft apply to USPS parcel select ground as well.

If you use calculated shipping, buyers will be charged correctly... provided that your measurements are accurate.

Such pricing may affect online sales. People may go back to shopping for large items at the local thrift stores and antique malls.

tiny package with ribbon
Time will tell if these new rates change the online selling industry.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, another wrench thrown into the well oiled machine! Small packages has been my mantra and in the past 9 months have only sold 1 item that Pirate did as Cubic.
    Thanks for the info Joanne


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