Shipping in anything other than an envelope requires safe, secure boxing, but not everyone has a suitable one lying around.
Despite the United States Postal Service facing financial difficulties in recent years, the organization still offers incredibly low prices on even their premium services.
But to help their customers cut costs even further, does USPS give free boxes? I have the answer you seek.
Does USPS Give Free Boxes?
The United States Postal Service and its affiliated post office locations do offer their customers free boxes (and envelopes) for their flat rate shipping services, Priority Mail and Priority Express. Boxes come in a variety of sizes, and they are available in most post office locations.
To learn more about how USPS free boxes work, what sizes they offer, whether you can order boxes for free online, and even if USPS will box items for you, find all the details below!
Does USPS Charge For Boxes?
Many of the boxes and shipping materials that USPS offers and which most customers will use are available free of charge.
- Priority Mail Small, Medium, and Large Flat Rate boxes (singles and multipacks)
- Military Care Kits
- Cremated Remains Kits
- Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express envelopes (regular, legal
- Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express tubes
- Global Express Guaranteed envelopes
Some of these items – especially the specialty-type boxes – might not be out in the open in all post offices; you might have to ask the postal teller behind the counter.
But for the most part, you should be able to find these boxes in the lobby area, where you can take as many as you need, completely free of charge.
USPS does charge for some boxes and shipping materials, including:
- Priority Mail Forever Prepaid Flat Rate Small Box, which includes the customer’s return address
- Priority Mail Forever Prepaid Flat Rate Padded & Legal envelopes, which also include the customer’s return address
- Priority Mail Forever Prepaid Small, Medium, and Large boxes
- Priority Mail Express Cold Chain Packages (for perishables)
- ReadyPost in Mailing Carton boxes
However, you don’t have to worry about mistakenly taking one of these boxes, as they will be kept behind the counter.
How Do USPS Free Boxes Work?
The United States Postal Service makes its free Flat Rate box and envelope program accessible to all.
They do this by making boxes available both in-store (or, rather, post office) as well as online. Check out their webpage for free shipping supplies here.
To access them in the store, all you have to do is enter your local post office location.
In mine, the free boxes are available closer to the entry doors and in the lobby; this is so that when the security gate is pulled down during off-retail hours, customers can still access boxes.
One thing to note, however – you are not actually looking for three-dimensional boxes.
Instead, the boxes come flattened (so they can fit more on the display, presumably), and you take them home, do some simple folding and/or taping, and they spring into 3D life.
To purchase online, simply navigate to the USPS.com supplies page; you can isolate the free boxes on the menu to the left, where it says “Free Shipping Supplies.”
As you will see, the prices are all set to zero dollars. You can add whatever you need to your cart (if you haven’t created an account, you will need to).
You will also see that you can order single boxes as well as multiples of 10 or 25.
Not only can you order these boxes for free, but USPS will ship them to you for free. This is ideal for people with mobility issues or transportation limitations.
It’s also a valuable service to small business owners who don’t want to make multiple trips to the post office for supplies or have to rely on hoping that their post office has enough.
What Sizes Are the Free Boxes at USPS?
There are a variety of sizes when it comes to the USPS free boxes, but the three below, for Priority Mail Flat Rate, are the most common.
- Small: 8 & 11/16” (L) x 5 & 7/16” (H) x 1 & 3/4” (W)
- Medium: 11 & ¼” (L) x 8 & ¾” (H) x 6 (W) or 14 & 1/8” (L) x 12 (W) x 3 & ½” (H)
- Large: 12 & ¼’ (L) x 12” (W) x 6” (H)
Both the post office and the USPS.com website give illustrated examples of what the boxes look like to help you decide which one best suits your shipping needs.
Can You Walk Into USPS and Get Boxes?
You absolutely can walk into a post office and grab some free boxes!
In my experience, they place the boxes closer to the entrance so that even if you show up before or after retail hours, the boxes are still accessible during lobby hours.
It does feel a little strange walking in and just taking boxes, but don’t worry – the postal workers, if they even see you, aren’t going to bat an eyelash.
Can You Order Free USPS Boxes Online?
You can order USPS boxes online for free, and they will even ship them to you for free, too!
The USPS.com website allows you to isolate the free shipping materials (see the image further up in this article) and add them to your cart.
You will have to create an account, if you don’t already have one, to “check out.”
Will USPS Box Things For You?
USPS will not box things for you; they will only advise you as to which box might best suit your purpose and budget.
That said, in every post office I have been inside, there are flat spaces for you to pack up your boxes on location.