TUTORIAL: How to Ship via PayPal: An Easier and Cheaper Postage Alternative to the Post Office

Purchasing postage through PayPal is cheaper than going to a physical Post Office, and very easy. Since I’ve had many questions about shipping, I thought I would post a quick tutorial for those of you who’ve never shipped through PayPal.

How to Ship on PayPal for Cheaper than the Post Office - A Guide on Oaxacaborn dot com

Why is it less expensive?
Paying for and printing a postage label through PayPal rather than going to the Post Office saves you money because you get a cheaper commercial-based postage rate, and a tracking number is included (it costs $1.05 at the Post Office). PayPal even automatically sends the tracking number to the buyer via a shipping notification!

What do I need?
All you need is a printer and a scale (I use an inexpensive kitchen scale); you don’t even need any special labels, since you just print the label right on a 8.5×11 piece of paper.

How do I start?
To start the process, just log into PayPal and click “Print Shipping Label” next to the transaction you want to ship. If your package is under 13oz, you’ll select “First Class”; “Package/Thick Envelope” and then enter the weight in ounces.

How much does it cost?
Here are the First Class mail rates (tracking number is automatically included in this price) when you print and pay for postage through PayPal. Remember to weigh after you have packaged the item, not before. ;)

[Prices updated to reflect the January 2014 postage rate increase]

  • 1 through 3 oz = $1.93
  • 4 oz = $2.01
  • 5 oz = $2.09
  • 6 oz = $2.25
  • 7 oz = $2.42
  • 8 oz = $2.59
  • 9 oz = $2.76
  • 10 oz = $2.93
  • 11oz = $3.11
  • 12 oz = $3.29
  • 13 oz = $3.47

Now, I would still recommend rounding up when you charge shipping to buyers. For example, I’ll charge $2.50-3 to ship a 1-5oz package, rather than the $1.93-2.09 in actual postage costs. Why? Because I spend a few cents in poly mailers, tape, ink, and paper each time I package an order.

How should I package my item?
To keep your shipping costs down, use plastic poly mailing bags instead of boxes. You can order poly mailers on Amazonquite inexpensively. An added bonus? They’re water resistant!

This is the self-sealing brand I use for my online shop, and I’ve not had a single issue with the strength or durability:

Does the Post Office give away shipping supplies like poly mailers or boxes for free?
[UPDATE: This question wasn’t in the original version of the article, but I’m adding it to the list here because I repeatedly receive this question.] The answer is no, and yes. No, you cannot obtain poly mailers or regular boxes for free from the Post Office, you must purchase those yourself. And yes, you can request Priority Mail boxes from the USPS/Post Office. They are completely free. (Of course, Priority Mail boxes can only legally be used for Priority Mail, which brings me to the next Q+A on the list…)

What if my package weights more than 13 ounces?
If your package is over 13oz and you want to print postage through PayPal, then you should use a Priority Mail flat rate box (this is a really good deal, because heavy packages get expensive quickly unless you use the “slow-boat” Standard Post option [formerly Parcel Post]). The Post Office provides Priority Mail flat rate boxes for free, and you can pay for and print the postage label through Paypal. Again, you get a discount if you do that instead of paying postage at the Post Post Office.

How much is postage for the flat rate boxes? 
Here are the Priority Mail flat rates, and again, a tracking number is included:

[Prices updated to reflect the January 2014 postage rate increase]

  • A flat rate envelope is $5.05 through PayPal, and $5.60 at the PO
  • A small flat rate box is $5.25 through PayPal, and $5.80 at the PO
  • A medium flat rate box is $11.30 through PayPal, and $12.35 through the PO
  • A large box is $15.80 through PayPal, and $17.45 through the PO

How do I mail the packages?
To mail your packages after you’ve attached the postage-paid label to them, just put them in a USPS collection box (a Blue Box); You don’t need to go to the Post Office at all!

If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer! And if you found this helpful, why not click here to get this post’s Permalink, then pin it to Pinterest? :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links. 

81 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: How to Ship via PayPal: An Easier and Cheaper Postage Alternative to the Post Office

  1. Thanks for this one. My friend was just asking me about this the other day assuming I did it but I don’t. I need a scale first. But I am lucky enough to have a drive-thru post office less than a quarter of a mile from my house so don’t mind going :)

  2. It’s me again haha. Do I call USPS to get a box? I guess I’m just confused as to how the mailman would know to come to my house to get them! Haha. Our neighborhood has the community mail boxes, not sure if that makes a difference? I’m pretty clueless about all this and thank you SO much for your help!

    • These blue boxes, also called curbside boxes or collection boxes, are in public areas; for example, you might find one next to a supermarket or a convenience store. These collection boxes are never used for delivering mail; they are provided by the USPS so you can send your postage-paid packages. (Note: This has nothing to do with your mail carrier coming to your house — you do not ever talk to a mail carrier in this process.You just walk up/drive up to the box, pull open the handle, and drop your package inside.) If you click on the “USPS collection box” link in the above blog post, you will be directed to the USPS’ official “Find Locations” page. Under “Location Types”, select “Collection Boxes”, then from the resulting choices, click the “Blue Boxes” check box. Once you enter your City,State or Zip and search, you’ll see where the closest collection box is to you.

  3. Hi!! I have to ship a 15 oz package through paypal, I always ship first class but this time the package weights more than 13 Oz, I want to ship flat rate, but envelope (polymailer) not a box, can you give me some input on how to do this?
    your help is highly appreciated!!

  4. For some reason mine keeps coming up $5.54 when I follow these steps! What am I doing wrong? Also, you didn’t mention adding the dimensions of the package that only pops up for priority?

  5. Do you know if these prices are still the same? I can’t find anywhere on paypal where shipping costs are listed! If you’ve got a link I’d love to have it!

  6. Hi! Great tutorial ! I just have a question. Can I get paid thru paypal but still purchase a shipping label at the post office?

  7. Hello, I have a 30 lb box to ship. The product is already in the box and it hasn’t been opened? How much would I pay for this using pay pal? Thank You

  8. This was sososoososo helpful! I cannot thank you enough lol I’ve been looking for instructions like these for over an hour, and this is exactly what I need, Thanks! :)

  9. I am wondering if these are updated rates. It looks like this was written in late 2012? Have rates changed since then? Perhaps you can edit and have the posting or last edit date?

    Also, is there a link to somewhere on Paypal that would list these out? Or is it not listed anywhere?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hello Annie, this post IS monitored and updated :) thus the notation “Prices updated to reflect the January 2014 postage rate increase” which appears more than once in the above post. In fact, I have have edited this post every time the postage has increased since 2012.

      As far as I’m aware, there’s no list on PayPal showing these rates, which is why I’ve written them out here.

  10. I started shippiing through paypal and prices were reflected as you posted in this blog.I went to ship something last week and the shipping was outrageous. Today, I’m filling orders and printing labels and for a 2 oz order – the labels is $5+. I’m so confused. Thoughts?

    • Hi Amanda, yes, PayPal does indeed give an option to either show the postage $ amount or hide it.

      And I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use a thermal printer — once the label is ready to print, you’d just choose to send the label to the thermal printer rather than to your default printer.

      Hope this helps! :)

  11. I am so confused :( SO, if something costs (and this is an extremely small and light item to stay in ontario) $29 estimated from UPS shipping, Paypal will lower it when you purchase their labels?

    I love your post but I wish I could understand it; it’s me not you ;)


    • Hi Heather, I’m sorry to hear you’re confused. You mentioned Ontario and UPS, so I need a little more information from you before I can troubleshoot.

      1. This post is talking about shipping via United States Postal Service (USPS), not United Parcel Service (UPS). Did you mean USPS?
      2. This information only applies to domestic shipping via USPS, i.e., mailing from the United States to an address in the United States. Are you trying to ship from the US, or from Canada?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Thanks so much for your quick reply, Gina!! It’s much appreciated!!

        Oh dear, yes I meant USPS :( What a blonde moment!!

        I completely understand it now!! Thanks again and I am pinning this for when I need UPS :D

  12. I just had a quick question. I’m using padded flat rate envelopes to mail stuff, but when I go into PayPal shipping there isn’t an option for the padded fre. Do I just choose fre? Will postage still be the same?

    • Hi Camie, thanks for stopping by. If you create and print a shipping label using the method outlined in the post above, you actually also pay for the shipping too, via your PayPal balance. No need to pay for shipping at the post office, since you would have already done so when you created and printed your label. And yes, the buyer can track it. Hope that makes sense!

  13. Hi, Gina! This has been so incredibly helpful. Thank you! Do you recommend just having some flat rate boxes on hand in case they’re needed or do you grab them on a need-today basis? Can I grab some to take home or do I need to just take my items to ship to the post office and ready them there? Also, once they’re ready to ship, can I put those in the blue boxes as well or do they need to be dropped off at a desk with a postal worker?

  14. Hi Gina,
    How is this actually less expensive? I have a Pitney Bowes postal meter. I’m mailing a folded 4×10″ map in a clear USPS approved poly bag. It fits a #11 policy envelope or clear bag. It weighs 3.1 OZ by the meter’s scale, and the meter prints postage of $1.11. Pay pay charges $1.93 for the same item and weight. I was looking for regular old 1st class envelope, but apparently PayPal is charging for a package/thick envelope. Much cheaper for me to bypass Paypal on this. Good tutorial even if it doesn’t apply.

    • Hello Loren, looks like you are mailing items as a first-class letter. You are correct that the postage price for stamps are much different than the postage prices for packages/thick envelopes, which is what is being addressed in this tutorial. 1 oz postcard, 1 oz letter, and 1 oz package/thick envelope are all different base costs.

  15. I just have two questions I want to use a flat rate envelope or the envelope that’s more like you paper bag but they don’t give me that option when I save flat rate envelope and because it’s technically not a package I don’t know the dimension height wise if I’m using priority mail also with the flat rate envelope can I use any flat rate envelope because last time they just gave you the smallest one at the post office and I needed it to be a little bigger

  16. Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been printing first class shipping this way for a while. I do have a question though. I know that $50 of insurance is automatically provided. But what if my item is valued at let’s say $125? Do I need to enter $75 on the insured value line to only pay for that amount of additional coverage? Or do I enter the full value of $125? (It seems like I would be double-paying for that first $50 that way). Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hello Amy, thanks for taking the time to leave a question. You may notice when you select “Purchase Insurance: Yes” and then enter “Value: $50″ (or “Value: $10″ or any number $50 and under) USPS does not charge you at all. The system only begins to charge you once you enter a value that’s MORE than $50. So no, you’re not double-paying for the first $50. Go ahead and enter the full value of $125. Hope that helps!

  17. Hi, I am shipping from Illinois to Canada via Paypal. Normally when shipping using poly mailers within the US, I select First Class and then Package and enter the ounces. To ship to Canada, I had to select First Class International and my only options are Letter or Large Envelope. Do I select Large Envelope for the poly mailer? Thanks

  18. Hello,
    Love what you are doing.
    I have been spending way too much and have had to eat alot of shipping due to trial and error, being a fairly new eBay seller. My question is, once I have my scale, and can weigh my packages ( in poly mailers) for first class shipping, how do I change shipping costs once I want to add the expense of mailers, tape, etc…
    Does PayPal at the end of auction choose shipping total since we don’t have any idea where the package is being shipped to until it ends.?
    Also do you just get postage deduction from your PayPal card for each shipping transaction as you print your shipping label.
    Thanks for the help.

    • Hi Sheli, thanks for your kind words!

      I don’t actually have a PayPal card, so I can’t answer that part of your question. Any postage I purchase via PayPal is deducted from my PayPal balance.

      Whenever I weigh my packages (in the poly mailers/packaging materials like you said) I always just round up / add a little bit to account for the cost of tape, shipping supplies, etc. For example, I’ll charge the buyer $2.50-3 for shipping on a 1-5oz package, rather than charging exactly $1.93-2.09, which is the amount I pay to the USPS through PayPal to ship a 1-5oz package.

      And the beauty of shipping First Class and Flat Rate Priority Mail (the two types of shipping I talk about above) is that in all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen the postage price change based on where the package is being shipped! :) When you ship First Class and Flat Rate Priority Mail, you don’t need to know the buyer’s Zip Code in order to calculate postage.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that the eBay shipping interface offers more options than the PayPal shipping interface I talk about in this tutorial. You can choose a ton. of different options with eBay shipping, whereas I have chosen to simplify it and just address First Class and Flat Rate Priority Mail here, because I’ve found them to be the most economical and simplest/easiest for the kind of shipping I do.

      (Also, a lot of people sell privately via a Facebook page, an Instagram account, or other “yard sale” type page online and do not have the option of buying postage through eBay, and only have access to PayPal transaction user interface.)

      Hope that helps!

    • You’ll probably need to leave a note on your mailbox for the carrier that there’s outgoing mail inside, otherwise they may just leave it there.

    • Hi Joanne, thanks for your comment! There are a lot of different kinds of mailboxes, depending on where you live. If you live along a rural route, and have a rural mailbox, or you have a wall-mount letter receptacle attached to the exterior of your home, then it’s typical to place outgoing mail in the box. If you receive mail in a locked mailbox on a large cluster mailbox (one that has a grid containing lots of other locked mailboxes, such as in a neighborhood or an apartment complex), the mail carrier usually only collects outgoing mail from the outgoing mail slot, not from individual boxes. In that case, you could always schedule a free pickup for your outgoing mail! https://tools.usps.com/go/ScheduleAPickupAction!input.action

  19. Hi Gina, question about shipping… How do i know how much I should charge buyer for shipping? I live here in Northern California, someone told me to calculate shipping just put the farthest zip code from where I live.. I’m still confused with this ebay shipping..:(

    • Hi Lerma, YAY NorCal! I miss living there :)

      One of the reasons I originally wrote this tutorial is to answer the question, “How do I know how much I should charge the buyer for shipping?” Now, there are a lot of different ways to ship a package, but this tutorial primarily addresses First Class and Flat Rate Priority Mail. For as long as I’ve been shipping these ways — plain old First Class and Flat Rate Priority Mail — I’ve never seen the price change based on Zip Code. That’s the beauty of it!

      So, to know how much to charge for shipping, you can read the “How Much Does it Cost?” paragraph above, which is essentially —
      1. Weigh the item along with the the poly mailer / packaging
      2. Consult the chart above to see how much postage will costs. (If it’s under 13 oz, you can send it First Class. If it’s over 13 oz, and you want to print postage through PayPal, then I always recommend a Priority Mail flat rate box. This is a really good deal, because heavy packages get expensive quickly unless you use the “slow-boat” Standard Post option [formerly Parcel Post]).
      3. Round up / add just a little bit onto the postage amount to account for your cost in mailing supplies, tape, time, etc.

      Another note: eBay offers a lot more options for shipping, but a lot of people sell privately via a Facebook page, an Instagram account, or other “yard sale” type page online and do not have the option of buying postage through eBay, so this tutorial addresses paying for and printing postage via the PayPal transaction user interface, not the eBay interface.

      Hope that helps!

  20. What exactly is the difference between a padded flat rate envelope and one of the tyvek ones besides one being padded? & which option would I choose on paypal for the tyvek?

  21. Hello, my question is: Since I print the labels on a regular 8.5×11 paper, how do I attach that to the poly mailer. Should I invest in sticker labels? Or can I just use clear tape?

    • I’ve never had a problem with clear tape around the perimeter, but some go crazy and tape over all the label except what USPS says not to.

    • Hi Joanna! Thanks so much for stopping by. I print labels on 8.5×11 paper, too. Shipping via PayPal is all about saving money (and time!) for me, so I just tape the paper on to the package. Easy peasy! :)

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