Print USPS Postage Labels for Free

If you need to ship packages, whether it is because you are selling old books, movies, and games or giving gifts, you can quickly print all kinds of shipping labels absolutely free. Services such as FedEx or UPS already allow you to do this, so the focus of this post will be on the United States Postal Service. While several companies offer pay services such as Endicia or Stamps.com, this guide will show you how to print labels without paying any more than the postage required for mailing.

Postage-Free Labels

It is possible to print postage-free labels (that is, labels without paid postage) to take to the post office for payment later. This is useful, for example, for First Class mail when you don’t have an accurate scale to measure the exact weight of the item in ounces. By printing a postage-free label, you can pay for the postage at the post office and have them weigh it, ensuring you do not overpay. As a bonus, you can get electronic delivery confirmation for only $0.18 on First Class and Media Mail, cheaper than the normal fee of $0.65 to $0.75. The only danger is that not all postal employees know about the difference, and in some places such as university post offices, they may not scan the label to read the price. Therefore, I would recommend going to a real post office where every package is scanned and/or being prepared to stand firm and educate the employee about the electronic delivery confirmation fee.

There are a few software products available that let you print postage-free labels. While the USPS web site used to have this option for Priority and Express mail services, it is no longer available.

Mac: Swordfish Express
The Mac solution for this is Swordfish Express, a free program provided by buyolympia. It eventually became Endicia for the Mac as of version 2, but the free version 1 still exists and works well.

Windows: USPS Shipping Assistant
On the Windows side of things, USPS offers its own Shipping Assistant. This tool is Windows only, which means Mac users would have had no way to print postage-free labels if not for Swordfish Express above.

Prepaid Labels

Labels with prepaid postage can also be printed free of charge. This allows you to drop the package off at the post office or a collection point with no waiting. By printing electronically, you still benefit from the cheaper $0.18 delivery confirmation, but without the potential complications of untrained employees.

USPS Click-N-Ship
Click-N-Ship is provided by USPS and allows you to print prepaid labels for Priority and Express mail, as well as international mail. However, if you want to print labels for cheaper services such as First Class or Media Mail, you are SOL. That is, unless you know about…

PayPal Shipping
PayPal actually offers a prepaid label service that does not charge you any extra overhead fees. Normally, this is for shipping eBay auction items. However, if you access the link directly, you can print postage for use with any package. The best part is they allow First Class and Media Mail as well, letting sellers on Amazon and Half.com rejoice.

Summary of Options

In total, I’ve presented 4 options for printing labels, 2 each for with and without postage. To summarize, they are:

9 thoughts on “Print USPS Postage Labels for Free

  • February 9, 2009 at 6:58 pm
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    Great article. You just saved me a lot of headaches and made my job easier.
    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • March 25, 2009 at 3:28 pm
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    Glad it was useful! 🙂

    Reply
  • May 18, 2011 at 6:40 am
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    Just to let you know that when using Shipping assistant and printing express mail labels for corporate account, the number that shows up on the label, is not the same that scans at the post office receipt. Therefore, cannot prove that the package was sent because no receipt.

    Makes it hard for billing purposes.

    Reply
  • December 29, 2011 at 11:22 am
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    This was very helpful, thanks! I’ve used PayPal to ship eBay items, but wasn’t sure if I could use it on regular packages – nice to know I can, since I’m familiar with it.

    Quick question – I am thinking about offering my customers the option of getting a shipping container with a prepaid postage label on it. If the person chooses not to send me their item, am I able to cancel the postage and get refunded for it? It gives them peace of mind about sending me their item, but I don’t want to spend money on shipping that people lose or don’t bother using. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  • October 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm
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    When buying Priority Mail Pre paid labels, I want to put my son’s address as the sender(return address) and my home address as the recipient. I then send him the labels already attached to the Post office approved boxes. The notation on the Website says that the “customer’s” address will appear as the sender. Can I, when buying the labels, Put his address on the label even though he is not the actual customer?

    Reply
  • December 25, 2012 at 2:45 am
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    I was searching for the information and tips for printing postage labels and finally my search ends here. This article contains the great knowledge about the postage labels.

    Reply
  • January 23, 2014 at 1:51 am
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    Holy Shmoly Hallelujah! Thank you very much. Thanks to Paypal too. I was going nuts trying to figure out first class prepaid labeling. I swear I had done it before. But this saved me. Thank you!

    Reply
  • May 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm
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    USPS Shipping Assistant became USPS Click’n’ship for Business. Now it has been superseded by “USPS meter label solution”. This latest “upgrade” removed the ability to print labels without postage as well as support for First Class.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm
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    WHEN USING SWORDFISH
    Another trick to save money. Buy a can of spray adhesive. Don’t buy prepaid labels, just print on regular paper, and when you cut them out, leave a little handle on one side. Hold the handle while spraying, that will keep you from getting spray on your hands. Apply the label to your package and you are good to go.

    Reply

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