Guide to 2021 Carrier Rate Increases and Surcharges

Each year it’s customary for the major shipping carriers to announce a rate increase. It usually takes effect just after the holiday peak season. 

At the beginning of 2021 rates increased by an average of 4.9%, which is pretty common. While this percentage is an average taken from all increases across domestic carrier services, shippers will be affected differently based on the particular service they use. 

The peak surcharges increased during the holiday season and as we’ve entered the 2021, UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS have published their increases and will continue to charge peak surcharges for certain types of services.

This post has been updated to include mid-year increases (additional costs on top of the January annual increases that were announced). UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS have all published new announcements since the start of this year.


UPS initially assigned the biggest increases to the lowest weight packages, in most of its service offerings. Minimums also went up on most services, particularly the slower services. ZIP code surcharges also increased.

Effective Start Date: December 27, 2020

Full breakdown of annual UPS surcharges.

  • Additional handling – $3 per package 
  • Large package – $31.45 per package
  • International Services – $0.11 per lb 
  • SurePost – $0.30 per package 


Effective Start Date: May 23, 2021

A selection of some UPS international channels will experience increased rates. This includes shipments originating from Asia, including China Mainland, Hong Kong SAR, and Taiwan. See the full details on surcharges, dates and rates in the UPS rate sheet. 


Effective Start Date: July 4, 2021

Read the announcement and the breakdown of additional UPS surcharges

  • Additional Handling – $3.50 per package
  • Large Package – $40 per package 
  • Ground Residential – $0.30 per package 
  • Air Residential – none 
  • Over Max Limit – none
  • International same as above. 
  • SurePost same as above. 


Effective Start Date: October 31, 2021 – January 15, 2022

  • Additional Handling – $6 per package
  • Large Package – $60 per package 
  • Ground Residential – $1.15 – $5.15 per package 
  • Air Residential – $2.15 – $6.15 per package 
  • Over Max Limit – $250 per package 
  • SurePost – $1.15 – $5.15 per package 
  • International same as above.


FedEx announced that they are extending some of their peak surcharges beyond the original expiration date of January 17. They forecast heavy demand for 2021 and want to offset rising network operating costs. The below surcharges will be effective January 18 until further notice.

Effective Start Date: January 4, 2021

Full breakdown of annual FedEx rate changes

Bigger Impact Changes: 

  • Oversize Charge – $30 per package
  • Additional Handling Surcharge – $3.00 per package
  • SmartPost Peak Surcharge – $0.75 per package


Effective Start Date: June 21, 2021

Announcement of continued COVID impact here

Affected surcharges include: 

  • Additional Handling – $3.50 per package
  • Ground/Express Air Residential – $0.60 per package
  • Ground Economy (previously SmartPost) – $1 per package
  • (Oversized peak surcharges remain the same. See above.)
  • International – $0.90 – $0.13 per package 



The proposed prices, approved by the Postal Service Governors, would raise Shipping Services product prices approximately 3.5 percent for Priority Mail service, and 1.2 percent for Priority Mail Express service. Shipping Services price increases vary by product. Although Mailing Services price increases are based on the consumer price index, Shipping Services prices are primarily adjusted according to market conditions.

Effective Start Date: January 24, 2021; USPS International: June 30, 2021

A full guide to the USPS annual rate increases can be found here.

An overweight/oversize surcharge of $100 will be added for packages that exceed the 70 lb. maximum weight limitation or the 130 inch length plus girth maximum dimensional size limit. This $100 surcharge must be paid by the shipper before the package will be delivered.

ProductCurrentPlanned Increase
Small Flat-Rate Box$8.30$8.45
Medium Flat-Rate Box$15.05$15.50
Large Flat-Rate Box$21.10$21.90
APO/FPO Large Flat-Rate Box$19.60$20.40
Regular Flat-Rate Envelope$7.75$7.95
Legal Flat-Rate Envelope$8.05$8.25
Padded Flat-Rate Envelope$8.40$8.55


Effective Start Date: August 29, 2021

Read the full USPS plan and announcement

An average overall raise of 6.9% for the organization’s main services is proposed to begin on August 29, 2021. This is part of the organization’s 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence. On top of these increases, USPS still provides one of the world’s most affordable shipping rates. 

The statement reads, “First-Class Mail prices would increase by 6.8% to offset declining revenue due to First-Class Mail volume declines. In the past 10 years, mail volume has declined by 46 billion pieces, or 28%, and is continuing to decline. Over the same period, First-Class Mail volume has dropped 32%, and single piece First-Class Mail volume — including letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 47%.”

See a full chart of USPS proposed price increases.


Product Current Planned Increase
Letters (1 oz.)$0.55$0.58
Letters additional ounce(s)$0.20$0.20 (unchanging)
Letters (metered 1 oz)$0.51$o.53
Domestic Postcards$0.36$0.40
Flats (1 oz)$1.00$1.16
Outbound International Letters$1.20$1.30


Effective Start Date: January 1, 2021 

DHL Express announced a 4.9% general average shipment price increase for U.S. account holders that will take effect on January 1, 2021. Some optional services and surcharges will increase as well.

Prices are adjusted on an annual basis by DHL Express, taking into consideration inflation and currency dynamics such as administrative costs related to regulatory and security measures. These measures are updated by national and international authorities on a regular basis in each of the more than 220 countries and territories that DHL Express serves. Depending on local conditions, price adjustments will vary from country to country, and will apply to all customers where contracts allow.

They have also announced the following surcharges.

Overweight PieceShipment pieces exceeding 70 kg


Per Piece94.00 USD
Oversize PieceLarge pieces exceeding 120 cm


Per Piece94.00 USD
Non-Stackable PalletWhen shipping non-stackable pallets


Per Piece245.00 USD

Bottom Line

While these are the price changes and surcharges have been announced by the carriers, anyone with a shipping account should check with your carrier representative or fulfillment partners to get a final quote on fees that will specifically affect you.

If you need shipping support and want to partner with DCL, we’d love to hear from you. You can read a full list of our fulfillment services, and check out the high-growth brands we support.