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What is UPS SurePost? That’s the subject of today’s guide. We’re going to deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the UPS SurePost service, why it came to be, the pros and cons, and a whole lot more.

So if you’re ready, let’s jump in.

What is UPS SurePost?

Quite simply, UPS SurePost is a shipping service by United Parcel Services that was set up to save customers money during the “last mile of delivery”.

Why UPS created SurePost

The economics for carriers has always been an issue when it comes to the last part of delivery.

The carrier trucks that you see driving around your local area are quite inefficient when it comes to cost savings.

Multiple trucks running deliveries that overlap in terms of area, and with large volumes each day is expensive. Those costs have been passed on to the customer for decades in terms of the delivery charges.

UPS created SurePost as a way of streamlining the last mile of delivery so that it works more efficiently.

How does SurePost work?

ups surepost how it works

UPS has attempted to make the final delivery more efficient by teaming up with USPS. The aim has been to reduce the number of trucks on the road going to the same locations.

Requiring fewer overheads in terms of labor, fuel, and vehicles, SurePost has been the UPS attempt to reduce delivery charges to its customers.

It has been estimated that transferring deliveries to USPS for local delivery has allowed UPS SurePost to save consumers up to 20% in delivery costs.

Which all sound fantastic in theory… how has this worked out in reality, however? Well, we’ll get to that shortly. First, let’s look at what services are available through SurePost.

UPS SurePost – Available Services


1. SurePost Parcel Select

SurePost Parcel Select is for items that can be shipped within a corrugated box, polybag, padded bag, or shipping tube. 

There are strict terms on the size of the package. The weight range is 1lb – 70lbs, and it cannot be more than 130” long. The girth can be no more than 60” at its widest point.

2. SurePost Parcel Select Lightweight 

A SurePost Parcel Select Lightweight package is similar to a normal select. It can only be shipped within a corrugated box, polybag, padded bag, or shipping tube. However, the weight range is 1oz. – 15.99oz.

3. SurePost Bound and Printed Matter

SurePost also has a service for Bound and Printed Matter.

Similar rules apply in that the package must be shipped within a corrugated box, polybag, padded bag, or shipping tube. The weight range here is 1lb – 15lbs.

Dimensions of the package must not be any larger than 108 “ in combined length and girth.

There is also a strict rule stipulating that 90% (or more) of the parcel’s content must include bound, printed matter. The printed matter must also contain only permanently-bound materials. Loose leaf is not allowed.

4. SurePost Media Mail

Finally, there is SurePost Media Mail. Again the package must be shipped in the same way as other SurePost services, (box, polybag, etc). The weight range here is 1lb – 70lbs.

The content requirements are once again strict. Only media items such as tapes, books, DVDs, etc are allowed.

Bothe SurePost Bound and Printed Matter and Media Mail are subject to special contractual conditions with UPS.

Costs of UPS SurePost

UPS has recently published an updated PDF of the SurePost charges for 2022, (effective from 26th December 2021).

As these costs can change, and there are a number of options it is best that we leave you a link to the source, rather than publish a table of costs that could become outdated.


Pros of UPS SurePost

As you can see from the above there are quite a few guidelines when it comes to using UPS SurePost. All that aside, what are the advantages of the service?

Cost Savings

The main benefit of UPS SurePost is based on why it was set up in the first place, cost savings.

You will save money if you deliver an item using SurePost. Consolidating delivery with USPS allows UPS to reduce the delivery charge of your package.

More Delivery Days

USPS delivers packages six days a week, (Monday to Saturday). This means that a delivery made via UPS SurePost can be made within the same delivery days.

This opens up weekend delivery at a greatly reduced cost than if you placed a Saturday delivery via another UPS service.

P.O. Box Deliveries

UPS will not deliver to P.O Boxes within the U.S. However, USPS does, (they do own them after all).

Ordering a delivery via UPS SurePost, within final delivery made via USPS means that you can use a P.O Box address as the delivery destination.

Post Office Pick Up

UPS SurePost via USPS means you have the option to pick your package from the local postal office. 

Shipment Tracking

Yes, you can have shipment tracking with other UPS services. However, in some scenarios, this number will change as the item passes through different carriers.

An item shipped with UPS SurePost will have the same tracking number throughout.

Cons of UPS SurePost

We’ve taken a look at the advantages of UPS SurePost, what about the negatives. What isn’t so good about the service?

Strict Conditions

As described above, the four SurePost services have strict conditions in terms of usage.

Your item will need to either be of a certain type and the package and weight will need to adhere to certain rules. These conditions can make shipping difficult.

Slower than normal services

UPS SurePost delivery times range from 2-7 days. There are no overnight services on offer here. 

Furthermore, the transfer from USP to USPS and the process of ensuring that the package is delivered efficiently over that “last mile” means it will not always get on the first available truck.

The item will be delivered in a way that is most cost-effective rather than the fastest. 

No International Shipping Options

Since UPS SurePost is connected to USPS shipments, international shipping is not available. If you are looking to ship abroad, SurePost cannot help you.

The service is designed only for shipping within the contiguous 48 US states.

You have to use your own boxes

The UPS SurePost service does not have dedicated boxes and packaging supplied by UPS. This means you will have to use your own boxes.

As already mentioned, the different rules on package sizes and the type of contents you can ship along with the fact you have to provide your own boxes can make shipping more complicated than it needs to be.

Is SurePost right for you?

ups sure post right for you

So, after reading about what UPS SurePost is all about, along with the pros and cons… is the service right for you?

To answer this there are a few questions to ask yourself. Namely, will you be shipping enough items to justify joining the SurePost program?

Also, will the kind of items you ship be appropriate for the four delivery services available through the program?

Finally, how important is expedited delivery to you? Will you need fast 24hr delivery times? If so, SurePost is not the service to use.

The same applies to anyone looking to ship internationally. SurePost is not appropriate for such deliveries.

UPS SurePost – A Video Guide

Mailbox Master Opinion

In our opinion, SurePost is best used by eCommerce stores that are shipping lightweight packages on a regular basis within the U.S.

Fast delivery times should also not be a priority.

Furthermore, a U.S based printing, marketing, and media company could also benefit from what UPS SurePost has to offer.

UPS SurePost vs. FedEx Smartpost

UPS SurePost vs. FedEx Smartpost

FedEx Smartpost is a similar, competing service to UPS SurePost. How do the two compare?

To be honest, they are very much the same in many ways. 

FedEx SmartPost also features a consolidation model that works with USPS to complete the last mile of delivery.

This too has similar pros and cons in terms of access to longer delivery windows, no international shipments, and of course cost savings. 

However, FedEx SmartPost provides slightly slower delivery times due to the consolidation process they currently employ.

The way FedEx packages are transferred to UPSP takes longer than it does by UPS. A certain volume has to be reached before USPS receives shipments.

There is very little to differentiate between costs, however. For more details of FedEx Smartpost head here.

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