How to ship heavy items ? Everything to Know about Heavy Hauling

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated January 16, 2024

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Heavy, bulky and awkward items need special attention when we ship them. Most conventional parcel shipping services will require heavy items to be specially labelled, and an extra fee paid, before allowing them to be shipped. Whether it’s an exercise bike, furniture, machinery, a musical instrument of even a motorcycle, customers need to be aware of the extra steps required to ensure the delivery is safe and successful. Because shipping fees increase with the weight and size of an item, it’s worth finding out methods to save on cost, and how to prepare the item or items to guarantee a secure delivery.

Step one is determining whether your package constitutes a heavy item. The cutoff is usually 70 lbs. If your package exceeds 70 lbs, it may be wise to eschew conventional mail services and seek out alternatives. (If your shipment weighs more than 150 lbs, exceeds 108 inches in length and 165 inches in girth, it’s probably considered as freight shipment.) Luckily there are hundreds of shipping services in the US alone. The market competition means they vie to keep their quotes low and attract your business. That’s good news if you’re concerned about your budget. If this is your first time shipping an item over 70 lbs, or one that qualifies as freight, you may be surprised at how inexpensive it can be. 

But before the time comes to hand the item over to a shipping service, you will need to prepare it for transit. This guide shows you how to prepare items of unconventional sizes, shapes and weights. Then we’ll take a look at the best shipping option.

How do I ship a large flat item?

If you want to ship an item that is large and flat (like a whiteboard) that cannot be rolled up (like a poster), the trickiest question is packing. The dimensions are awkward and you’re unlikely to find a cardboard box that’s a good fit.

If the item is thin enough, the most economical method is to purchase flat cardboard sheets. Wrap the item in bubble wrap first, then seal between two cardboard sheets using strong glue or staples. While this is the most cost-effective option, it does involve more work since you are essentially creating your own box.

USPS sell boxes designed for this shape, although the dimensions may still be off. They are called Large Flat Game Boxes and come in packs of no fewer than 25. Make sure you check the product spec before purchasing, in case it is the wrong size. They measure just over 23 inches by 11 inches.

Lastly, you can make use of ordinary cardboard boxes and fill the empty space with reams of bubble wrap. This may be the simplest option but it is only recommended if the item is durable, since it might suffer more knocks and jolts in a box too large for it. 

And of course, label the box on all sides.

Before starting this process, check that the dimensions of the item do not exceed the shipping service’s limits. If it is uncommonly shaped or sized, USPS, UPS and FedEx may not be able to help. In which case, there are other shipping services on offer that won’t break the bank.

For insight:

  • With FedEx Express, you can ship packages up to 119″ in length and 165″ in length and girth.
  • USPS has a size restriction of 108 inches in combined length and girth.
  • UPS packages can be up to 165 inches in length and girth combined.

How can I ship a large item without a box?

If you choose not to make use of a box, perhaps because your item is irregularly-shaped, the key consideration is how to protect it. The price of not using a box is using a lot more bubble wrap and similar shields to wrap around the item, then secure all the packing material with tape. 

Include a shipping label inside the packing material with the item as well as on the outside, just in case the material is damaged and the label lost. As always, both should contain your contact information in case of accidents or delays.

General tips for shipping large items

The second best way to ensure the safe delivery of your large item, after making sure it is wrapped and padded carefully is to give the shipping service all the information they might need about it.

Some things you may want to include on the shipping label, or in your conversations with the transporter:

  • Does the item need to be disassembled and reassembled on arrival?
  • Is the item bulky enough to need action to be taken on the destination? (I.e. doors removed, loading ramps in place, etc.)
  • Will the item require custom blocking and bracing?
  • Will the item need special protection? (I.e. from corrosion or heat.)
  • Are the specs you will give accurate? It’s always a good idea to check with a tape measure the exact dimensions before shipping.

The more information you can provide, the less risk involved in the delivery.

All these considerations are made easier by choosing a reputable shipping service. Peace of mind comes from trusting in the transporter’s expertise. Therefore it is advisable to choose a service where you can contact the driver, and they can contact you, so you can mention any quirks to do with the item to them directly.

That’s one advantage of using CitizenShipper. Another is the competition of our online marketplace keeps shipping costs low as drivers vie for your shipment. 

Post your shipment free of cost today and wait for the quotes to roll in. Choose the driver you want: the driver with the best quote and the most experience. Then prepare your cargo, negotiate terms and relax: The driver will handle it from here. Size and shape no object!

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