Do USPS Shipping Labels Expire? (+ Other Common FAQs)

USPS has a range of services created to make shipping more convenient, such as printing shipping labels at home or the post office.

But do those shipping labels expire? And if so, what can you do if you have an expired shipping label? I’ve looked into the matter, so you don’t have to! Here’s everything I discovered!

Do USPS Shipping Labels Expire?

USPS shipping labels expire based on the ship-by date on the label. Additionally, shipping labels are no longer valid 28 days after you print them. However, most post offices have a grace period, although it’s not guaranteed. If you’re using a USPS return shipping label from a retailer that allows returns, these labels don’t expire for a year.

If you want to save yourself some time and energy when using USPS shipping labels, be sure to read on to find out how shipping labels expire and what you can do!

How Long Does It Take For a USPS Shipping Label To Expire?

USPS shipping labels expire after 28 days.

While this is the general rule of thumb, most post offices will still ship your package even if the label is expired, provided it’s shipped two to three days after the expiry date.

Also, some post offices will even accept packages with labels that have been expired for weeks, although that is a less common practice.

In all reality, whether or not your post office takes a package with an expired shipping label is up to its discretion.

But, the rule book states that employees shouldn’t take packages with expired labels, so you can’t expect them to bend the rules.

That said, if you drop a package with an expired shipping label off in a USPS collection box without checking in with your local post office, it could get sent back to you.

Therefore, it’s always best to check instead of trying to sneak one past them!

Moreover, if your local post office refuses to send your package even though the label has expired only by a day or two, you can always request to speak to the local postmaster.

However, be sure to keep in mind that the policy is that no packages with shipping labels over 28 days are to be accepted, so don’t expect anyone to bend the rules on your account.

With that, shipping labels expire to help keep the post office from losing packages and to help them stay on top of deadlines.

How Can You Tell If a USPS Shipping Label Is Expired?

You can tell if your USPS shipping label is expired by locating the “Ship By” date on the label, typically found in the bottom corner.

Typically, the “ship by” date is used as a guide for postal workers to ensure that they’re shipping packages out on time and that they’ll arrive in the correct delivery window.

That said, this date varies by importance depending on the shipping service you’re using.

For example, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express packages have a tiny delivery window and are prioritized over other packages for shipping, so they arrive more quickly.

Because of the small delivery window, the ship-by date on these labels is much more important for accurate delivery times than it would be on other types of mail, such as First Class or Ground Retail.

Essentially, if you’re unsure whether your local post office will accept your package with an expired shipping label, the best thing you can do is ask!

What Do You Do If Your USPS Shipping Label Expires?

What Do You Do If Your USPS Shipping Label Expires?

If your USPS shipping label expires, don’t panic!

If you’re one to three days past the expiry date, you can always call or visit your local post office to see if it can take the package despite it being a few days past its date.

If, for whatever reason, your local post office can’t take the package or the shipping label is too far expired to be accepted, you still have a few other options available to you!

For example, if you purchased your shipping labels through USPS, you have up to ten days to request a refund from when you print the label (not buy it).

Once you request a refund, you can use that money to purchase a new shipping label!

Also, you can use online shipping software to purchase USPS shipping labels at discounted prices.

Most of these services allow for refunds no matter how long ago you printed the label, as long as USPS never scanned it.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in using an online shipping service to help cut down on your shipping costs, you can find a helpful, informative article with a list of resources here.

How Do You Print a USPS Shipping Label?

A great way to prevent your USPS shipping labels from expiring (and to save a little time and money) is by printing your shipping labels at home.

With that, if you’re going to be using the USPS website to print your shipping labels, be sure to make a USPS account if you don’t already.

Once you have a USPS account, click on the “Send” tab on the top browser menu and click on the labeled “Clink-N-Ship” section.

After doing this, the website leads you to the shipping label template.

Then, you can add shipping information like the package’s destination, weight, and the shipping service you’d like to use.

Additionally, some options allow you to prepay for the package or schedule a USPS pick-up.

However, if you’re planning on using a shipping service rather than the USPS website, the methodology for printing a label may vary slightly. Still, it won’t be all too far off from the directions listed above!

With all this information in mind, the best thing about using an online shipping service is that you can purchase items such as shipping labels or postage at the most discounted rate available while saving yourself a trip to the post office.

To learn more about USPS, you can also see our posts on what are USPS shipping zones, whether USPS requires a signature, and if USPS tracking numbers expire.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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