Rates FAQs

See also:

What are the upcoming USPS 2019 price changes?

The USPS price changes take effect January 27, 2019 and include the following major changes:

  • USPS Priority Mail Commercial Plus Pricing (CPP) will be the same as Commercial Base (CBP).

  • The existing ounce-based pricing structure for USPS First-Class Package Service and First-Class Package Return Service will change to a zone-based pricing structure.

    Note: The PB Complete Shipping APIs will now return zone information for First-Class Package Service and First-Class Package Return Service. The Shipping APIs will return zone information in the rates.destinationZone field in the responses to rate and shipment requests.

  • Balloon pricing for USPS Priority Mail and Parcel Select services will be eliminated.

    Note: USPS has deferred Dimensional weight-related changes to June 23, 2019.

For a more detailed list of USPS changes, see Rate Change Central.

In addition to the USPS changes, some Shipper Rate Plan IDs (X-PB-Shipper-Rate-Plan) will also change. If that is the case for you, the PB Support Team has already notified you with the updated plan name.

Pitney Bowes will update the Shipping APIs as follows:

  • The Sandbox environment now includes the price changes. The new rate cards are coming to Sandbox on Jan 18.
  • Updates to the Production environment will occur January 27, 2019 at 12:00 AM EST.

What were the 2018 USPS price changes?

The USPS 2018 rate changes went into effect January 21, 2018 and reflected an average 3.9 percent increase across shipping services as compared to 2017 rates. The changes affected both domestic and international shipping, including Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and Parcel Select.

As part of the 2018 changes, First-Class Mail International (FCMI) shipments can contain only documents, not goods. When using FCMI, you must set the customs object’s reasonForExport field to DOCUMENTS. Goods that were formerly shipped via FCMI can instead be shipped via First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) and other services.

For more information on the 2018 rate changes, see USPS Rate Changes for January 2018.

What is USPS cubic pricing?

USPS cubic pricing provides high-volume shippers discounted rates on small, heavy parcels. Rates are based on parcel size and shipping distance, not on parcel weight. Cubic pricing is available for high-volume Priority Mail shippers, usually those who ship more than 50,000 parcels a year.

Qualifying parcels must be rectangular, non-rectangular, or soft packs. They cannot be rolls or tubes. A rectangular or non-rectangular parcel must measure no more than 0.5 cubic feet and weigh no more than 20 pounds. USPS uses the following formula to measure cubic feet:

Length x Height x Width / 1728 = Cubic Feet

A soft pack qualifies if the sum of the longest and next-longest dimensions does not exceed 36 inches and if the smallest dimension does not exceed 2 inches. The measurement must be taken prior to placing the item in the envelope.

When a parcel qualifies for cubic pricing, Pitney Bowes checks the weight-based rate as well and applies the rate that is most cost-effective. For more information on cubic pricing, see Commercial Plus Cubic on USPS.com.

When is USPS cubic pricing applied to a package?

When a shipper prints a Priority Mail (PM) label for a package (PKG), the PB Complete Shipping APIs check if cubic pricing is available for the shipper and for the package. If it is, Pitney Bowes calculates both the cubic price and weight-based price for the package and then applies the more cost-effective of the two.

How are rates calculated for soft packs?

Soft packs (SOFTPACK) are flexible packages that adhere and conform to the contents being packaged and that, as a result, take up minimum cubic space. The sum of a soft pack’s longest and next-longest dimension cannot exceed 36 inches. The smallest dimension cannot exceed 2 inches. The measurements must be taken prior to placing the item in the envelope.

When you specify that a parcel is a soft pack, Pitney Bowes calculates rates based on all of the following and then applies the most cost-effective rate to the shipment:

The label will have markings corresponding to the rate applied. For supported services for soft packs, see the SOFTPACK entry in this table.

What is dimensional weight pricing?

Dimensional (DIM) weight pricing applies to packages that are large and relatively light for their sizes. DIM weight is calculated based on volume and a volumetric divisor.

For USPS shipments, you can calculate whether DIM weight applies to a given package using the USPS DIM weight calculator. See https://www.usps.com/dimensionalweight/.

Note: A package might alternatively be subject to oversize pricing.

What is Oversize Pricing?

Oversize pricing applies if the parcel’s combined length plus girth falls between 108 and 130 inches.

Which charges apply when my request includes a Shipper Rate Plan?

If your request to Rate a Package or Create a Shipment includes the X-PB-Shipper-Rate-Plan request header, which specifies a shipper rate plan, then in the response the rates array returns the following:

  • If the shipper does not have an NSA:
    • The alternateBaseCharge and alternateTotalCharge fields are based on the shipper rate plan. These contain the shipper’s charges.
    • The baseCharge and TotalCarrierCharge fields are based on the developer’s rate plan.
  • If the shipper has an NSA:
    • The baseCharge and TotalCarrierCharge fields are based on the NSA. These contain the shipper’s charges.
    • Do not use the alternateBaseCharge and alternateTotalCharge fields.

What is Commercial Base Pricing (CBP)?

Commercial Base Pricing (CBP) provides discounts based on how you prepare your shipments. There are no volume requirements. The rates are lower than the retail pricing offered at USPS locations. The current rates are found in the Commercial Prices sections of the USPS Price List. You can access the list as HTML or as a PDF.

What is USPS Commercial Plus Pricing (CPP)?

Commercial Plus Pricing (CPP) provides discounts based primarily on shipping volume. If you are doing high volume, you might qualify for CPP. CPP rates are found in the Commercial Prices sections of the USPS Price List. You can access the list as HTML or as a PDF.

What is a Negotiated Service Agreement (NSA)?

For a shipper with a very high volume, a Negotiated Service Agreement (NSA) provides discounts based on a contract between the shipper and USPS.

For more information, see this USPS document: https://pe.usps.com/cpim/ftp/manuals/dmm300/709.pdf

When rating a package, can I send multiple package details in a single request?

No. Currently, the PB Complete Shipping APIs do not support the processing of multiple parcels in a single rates request. You must include only one parcel object, as shown here:

curl -X POST .../v1/rates?includeDeliveryCommitment=false \
-H "Authorization: Bearer <oauth_token>" \
-H "Content-Type: application/json" \
-d '
    "fromAddress": { ... },
    "toAddress": { ... },
    "parcel": {
        "weight": {
            "unitOfMeasurement": "OZ",
            "weight": 1
        "dimension": {
            "unitOfMeasurement": "IN",
            "length": 5,
            "width": 0.25,
            "height": 4.0,
            "irregularParcelGirth": 1.0
    "rates": [ ... ]