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. 

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56 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 ;)

    Thanks!!

    • 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?

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