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. 

In 2021 rates are increasing by an average of 4.9%, which is pretty common. While this is the average increase, shippers will be affected based on the particular service they use. 

In 2020, several carriers responded to the overwhelming shipping demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by charging peak surcharges during the non-holiday season. 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.


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

Effective Start Date: December 27, 2020

Bigger Impact Changes: 

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

A full breakdown of UPS surcharges.


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

Bigger Impact Changes: 

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

A full breakdown of FedEx rate changes.


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




Planned 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

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


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.