General Question

Mariah's avatar

Do I need to print a shipping label before going to the post office?

Asked by Mariah (25785points) March 10th, 2018

I feel like a total idiot for having to ask this, but I’ve only ever shipped packages with USPS’s click and ship where you buy the label online, print it out yourself, and then schedule for a carrier to pick it up from your front door. I’m shipping something that can’t sit out in the cold (live plants) and so I want to bring the box to the post office to ship. Do I have to print out a label and/or pay ahead of time or do they do that for me at the post office? I’m using a priority mail flat rate box.

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8 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

No. They will weigh your parcel for you, tell you what you owe depending on your shipping method, and affix a label. The post office still serves lots of low-tech people and even people like me who, now and then, still mail actual letters with stamps on them.

Zaku's avatar

Some post offices also have self-service machines that you can use to create shipping labels.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Things like printable labels are offered as a convenience, not as a requisite.

CWOTUS's avatar

Are you certain that the USPS will properly handle the live plant delivery? That’s something that I would not normally expect.

Aside from that, and to your question, whenever I ship I print two labels: one for inside the box in case of damage to the container or the outside label. And yes, it’s best to have that printed in advance. Generally when I get to the Post Office there’s a line, and I want to get in that line ASAP, to reduce the wait.

janbb's avatar

It’s not necessary. It sometimes does take me a while when I am shipping to France but my local PO has always been very helpful.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks for helping me handle basic adulting, guys!

@CWOTUS, yep, folks exchange plants and even aquatic animals like snails, shrimp, and fish in the mail all the time. I’m shipping a hardy species of aquarium plant that will do just fine in the 3–5 day shipping offered by priority mail.

LuckyGuy's avatar

As already mentioned above the post office will print out the label for you.
What I find incredible is how the algorithm figures out the address with only the house number and the first letter of the street address! That just doesn’t seem possible but it works!
If you use the self service machine you can play with it and see.
Fun!

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