Individuals across America are using flat rate boxes, a special service of the United States Postal Service, to ship various materials domestically and internationally. Since users do not have to guess on the weight or price of sending a box, they can simply load a flat rate box and send it to the desire destination. International shipping is also available. However, there are a few rules governing flat rate boxes.
History of Flat Rate Boxes
On October 6, 2004, the Postal Rate Commission approved a request by the USPS to begin using flat rate boxes. These shipping containers, originally available in two sizes and costing £5.0 each, shipped items of any weight to any domestic address via Priority Mail. The USPS purported that the boxes would provide ease-of-use to customers, since they could simply place an item in a box and send it for a fixed price, regardless of weight or destination.
Sizes of Flat Rate Boxes
Flat rate boxes come in various sizes. There are flat rate envelopes, sized at 9 ½ by 12 ½ inches. These are ideal for documents and manuscripts; they are not ideal for oddly shaped materials. The small box, measuring 8 5/8 by 5 3/8 by 1 5/8 inches, is large enough for small electronics or jewellery. The medium flat rate box is slightly larger at 11 by 8 ½ by 5 ½ inches. It is about the size of a shoebox and ideal for hardware, electronics or office supplies. Another medium-sized flat rate box is flatter, and it is ideal for clothing or audio/visual equipment. It measures 13 5/8 by 11 7/8 by 3 3/8 inches. The largest flat rate box is 12 by 12 by 5 ½ inches. It works well for laptop computers and multiple items combined together.
Price of Flat-Rate Boxes
The flat rate envelope and the small flat rate box, as of 2009, are £3.20, though they are £3.10 if purchased online. The two medium flat rate boxes are £6.40 online and £6.70 at the Post Office. The large flat-rate box is £8.70 with the online discount, but £9.0 otherwise.
International Flat Rate Boxes
Flat rate boxes are approved for shipments to APO/FPO and DPO addresses. For other international destinations, the price of the box varies. For instance, when purchased online in 2009, the small flat rate box is £6.70 to Mexico and Canada but £8.00 to all other countries.
Stipulations for Flat Rate Boxes
You can mail anything that fits inside a flat rate box or envelope. Normal postal and governmental regulations apply; you are not permitted to send prohibited materials through the postal service. The weight of each package is limited to 31.8kg. According to USPS.com, if the container flap is able to close within its normal folds, a flat rate box's contents are acceptable. Tape may be applied to reinforce the material, but the product must not obstruct the package in any way.