Measure and weigh shipment correctly

How to correctly measure and weigh your parcel

15th February 2023, 11:11am in Shipping Advice by Amy Newham

Before you can generate a courier service quote, you need to measure and weigh the package correctly. Getting the parcel details right will reduce the risk of extra courier charges or delays. It also ensures you receive the most suitable delivery quotes- saving you money!

Luckily, the steps to measure your parcel, whether for domestic or international shipping, are pretty simple. If it is your first time sending a package or you need extra guidance, keep reading.

What happens if you underestimate shipping weight/dimensions?

Parcels at delivery hub

One of the most crucial steps in the shipping process is to accurately record the length, height, width and weight of the box. This is to avoid extra surcharges or the risk of the parcel being returned. If the package has been underdeclared, it might not fit on the courier vehicle resulting in a failed collection. Once at the sorting hub, your parcel is also remeasured and weighed by machinery for verification.

What tools are needed to measure a parcel?

  • A ruler or rigid tape measure
  • A set of scales
  • A calculator (in case you need to convert measurements)
  • Pen and paper

How do you measure a package for delivery?

Measure a parcel

1. Record the parcel details after it has been sufficiently packed as the shape can change. For example, packet services like APC Mail Pack or APC Courier Pack deliver items in a branded plastic pack which can cause the parcel shape to change. If you opt for a box, we recommend picking a double wall cardboard box with corrugated layers for extra strength

2. You should avoid underfilling or overfilling any shipment. Underfilled packages are likely to collapse, whereas overloaded boxes may burst or lose their original shape

3. At the sorting hub, your parcel will be remeasured and reweighed typically without human intervention, so make sure nothing is protruding or dangling because it could alter the original measurements

4. Using your tape measure or ruler, note down the parcel length, width and height and round up to the nearest centimetre. The parcel length is always its longest side, regardless of the orientation

How do you weigh a box for shipping?

Weigh a parcel

You can use any set of scales to record the weight of your parcel. Most households will own a set of kitchen or bathroom scales. If you regularly send shipments, it could be worth investing in postal scales for extra precision.

1. Make sure you place the scales on a hard, flat surface. You don’t want to be trying to get a reading with it balancing on your lap!

2. Ensure the whole parcel fits on the scale for an accurate reading

3. If you use a digital scale, record the weight and round up to the nearest kilogram – never round down!

Five tips for correctly measuring the parcel weight and size

Package the item before obtaining the dimension and weight

Place the box against a wall to record the measurements to give you the most accurate reading

Always round up your measurements by one or two centimetres

Take a photo of the dimensions as you can use them in case there are any disputes regarding the measurements of the box

Double-check the measurements, and check again!

Other top tips for sending parcels:

Plan ahead: The postal network can get busy especially around popular holidays - if you're sending internationally, we recommend you allow for a longer timeframe

Check if your item is prohibited or restricted: You must check if your item is suitable for shipment before you send, otherwise you could face additonal charges or delays

Package your items correctly: No matter the item, it must be packaged sufficiently to withstand any bumps or knocks in transit

Complete a customs invoice for international deliveries: You must provide a customs form for any parcel you wish to send from the UK to another country

Consider adding additional transit cover: If the item you are sending exceeds the amount of free transit cover, you have the option to purchase enhanced transit cover at the time of booking

Save on shipping with Interparcel

Now you have accurately recorded the parcel details, pop them into our online quote tool and hit the 'Quote Me' button. Filter the results by fastest, cheapest and type of service, such as Next Day delivery and Same Day delivery. If you have an Interparcel account, you can use our Shipping Manager to create shipments, import orders from your eCommerce platforms or CSV.

Popular UK courier services

Following our guidance, you can be confident your parcel will get to its destination without extra fees or surcharges – sending a parcel has never been easier!

Get a quote for your parcel today and see how much you could save!

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