UPS Rules on the Size of Boxes

UPS has both size and weight restrictions when shipping boxes.
UPS has both size and weight restrictions when shipping boxes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Shipping documents, business or personal items via UPS requires understanding what is allowed. Knowing the restrictions beforehand can prevent the headache of re-packaging an item to meet the regulations. Knowing the different fee structures based on box size and weight may directly impact how much you pay. Sending a package with UPS using one box size vs. another, although you are shipping the same item, may save you money.


In addition to the physical box size, UPS has restrictions on the weight of the item to be shipped regardless of its dimensions. The maximum weight allowed by UPS standard shipping is 150 pounds. It is worth noting that any package over 70 pounds will incur what UPS refers to as an Over Maximum Limits charge. Also, a special sticker denoting a heavy item is required for packages between 70 pounds and the 50 pound maximum for standard UPS shipping.

Length and Height

UPS also has limits on the size of the boxes used for shipping, regardless of weight. The company accepts shipping of boxes that are up to 108 inches long. Considering that equates to nine feet that should address most shipping needs. The maximum height, or what UPS refers to as girth, varies depending on the length of the box. This requires calculating and using the combined total maximum restrictions to determine if you are within the guidelines.

Combined Total Maximum

According to the UPS guidelines, a standard package can be up to 168 inches total length and girth. Since there is only a restriction on the length of the box, it will determine the maximum height of the box. For example, if your package meets the maximum length requirement of 108 inches, the girth can be no more than 60 inches. If your package is 90 inches in length, the girth can be as much as 78 inches.

Exceeding the Limits

For packages that exceed the limits for standard UPS rules, there are other options available. UPS freight services are designed for non-standard size or weight items. These include truckload, air, ocean and critical freight services. If your box exceeds the size or weight maximums for standard UPS shipping, one of the freight options may be an appropriate alternative.

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