As of January 2018, the USPS no longer allows First Class Mail International service (FCMI) to use the Large Envelope/Flat package type to ship anything but Documents. For any content type other than Documents (e.g., Merchandise), the USPS now requires shipments to use the package type of Package or Thick Envelope.
For more details on the USPS change, including what does and does not meet the criteria for a document, read the Stamps.com blog post about it.
This change in package requirements can result in a shipping rate increase of $7 or more per package. To address this, Stamps.com will automatically enroll all Stamps.com account holders into their Global Advantage Program, which will allow users to continue to select the package type of Large Envelope/Flat with a content type other than Documents.
- Up to 65% in savings over the USPS Package shipping cost
- No more need to print Customs Declarations forms
- No need to change your workflow in ShipStation to accommodate the new USPS Package requirements
What is the Global Advantage Program?
Any label created through ShipStation that meets the following criteria will be a Global Advantage Program (GAP) label:
- Service = USPS First Class Mail International
- Package type = Large Envelope or Flat
- Package Contents = anything other than Documents
The labels for these shipments will be domestic labels that direct the packages to the nearest international sorting facility, where the packages will be relabeled and forwarded to their final, international destination.
Here is an example of what the label provided through ShipStation will look like. The customer name, company, province, and country code are provided on the bottom right of the label:
Here is a break-down of what happens once you click Create Label:
- ShipStation prints a domestic label (as shown above, with a scannable barcode for USPS and an international tracking number*)
- ShipStation submits the Customs Declarations to Stamps.com (or Endicia) electronically
- USPS ships the package to the nearest sorting facility
- Sorting facility staff relabels the package
- International carrier ships the package to its final destination
*The international tracking number will track the package to the sorting facility and may track the package to the destination country as well, depending on the country.
How to Use the Global Advantage Program in ShipStation
ShipStation users do not have to take any steps to participate in the Global Advantage program, and no changes need to be made to your existing workflows. As of January 21, 2018, this change occurs automatically and all labels created according to the above criteria will be GAP labels.
If you do not wish to participate in the Global Advantage Program, be sure to select Package or Thick Envelope from the package type drop-down menu when shipping via USPS First Class Mail International.
- The Global Advantage Program can also be used for other First Class Mail and Priority Mail services, but this must first be set up through Stamps.com directly.
- If an error is returned in the Get Rate field in ShipStation or when you attempt to create a GAP label, you may have a Stamps.com account with a negotiated service agreement. If this is the case, your Stamps.com (or Endicia) account may not be eligible for the Global Advantage Program. Please contact your Stamps.com or Endicia representative for further information.
- Do not choose Documents for content type if the content does not conform to the USPS criteria for documents. If you choose the Documents content type in your customs declarations in ShipStation, ShipStation assumes the package content conforms to the USPS requirements for Documents and will generate the appropriate label. However, if the contents of the package do not meet the USPS criteria for documents, the USPS Automatic Package Verification (APV) has the ability to post-charge your account the difference between the Large Envelope/Flat rate and the Package rate (which can be $7 or more).
- Please review the Global Advantage Program FAQ for additional questions about the program.