What Is UPS SurePost? (+ How to Save On UPS Shipping)

Colby Ezell / Small Parcel / July 6, 2023

In the ever-evolving world of e-commerce, one thing remains constant – buyers love free shipping. The allure of clicking that “checkout” button without the burden of additional shipping costs has become an essential factor in the online shopping experience.

As businesses strive to meet the growing expectations of their customers, offering free shipping has emerged as a powerful strategy for boosting sales and enhancing customer satisfaction. However, for businesses to provide this enticing perk, they must navigate the complex realm of shipping logistics, where affordable shipping rates are key. UPS’s answer to this market need is its SurePost service.

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of UPS SurePost, including how it works, how long it takes, the specific benefits, and other ways to save money on shipping costs.

What Is UPS SurePost?

UPS SurePost is a service offered by the United Parcel Service (UPS) that combines the efficiency of UPS’s ground network with the final delivery handled by the United States Postal Service (USPS). It is designed to provide an economical and convenient shipping option for lightweight, non-urgent packages. It is commonly used for e-commerce shipments, allowing businesses that ship at least ten packages daily to offer affordable shipping options to their customers.

The ideal SurePost package should be lightweight and compact enough to fit easily within a mail truck, weighing less than ten pounds and measuring under one cubic foot. Furthermore, the shipments should be destined for residential addresses, involve business-to-consumer transactions, possess a value below $100, and require only limited liability coverage. By meeting these requirements, shippers can leverage UPS SurePost to efficiently and affordably deliver their packages to customers.

How Does UPS SurePost Work?

As mentioned above, UPS SurePost operates through a strategic collaboration between UPS and the USPS. The process begins when businesses enter into a contractual agreement for UPS SurePost services, which often involves parcel contract negotiation. Initially, UPS handles the transportation of the packages from the sender’s location to a designated UPS facility. At this point, UPS consolidates and sorts the packages before transferring them to the USPS for the final mile delivery.

Once the packages are in the hands of the USPS, they are integrated into the existing USPS infrastructure for local delivery. USPS carriers transport the packages directly to their intended destinations, including residential addresses. Throughout the entire process, UPS provides robust tracking capabilities, allowing both businesses and customers to monitor the progress of their shipments and ensure transparency and peace of mind.

How Is UPS SurePost Delivered?

UPS SurePost packages are delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) as the last-mile carrier. The USPS is responsible for the final leg of the delivery process, bringing the packages directly to customers’ doorsteps. This delivery method is particularly well-suited for residential addresses and offers convenience for recipients who may not be available during regular business hours.

How Long Does UPS SurePost Take?

While the average UPS SurePost delivery time may vary based on factors such as distance, location, and local USPS operations, they typically align with the USPS’s regular delivery schedule. It’s important to note that delivery to certain areas, such as rural or remote regions, may have specific limitations or longer transit times due to USPS service coverage.

Additionally, UPS SurePost deliveries generally follow the USPS delivery calendar, which typically excludes Sunday deliveries. However, UPS SurePost packages can still be in transit during weekends as they move through the UPS and USPS networks. It’s advisable to check with UPS or USPS for any specific delivery exceptions or holiday schedules that may impact SurePost deliveries.

UPS SurePost vs. Ground

UPS SurePost and UPS Ground are two residential ground services offered by UPS that allow businesses to decide between focusing on lowering shipping costs or enhancing customer experience. Both services have their advantages, with UPS Ground offering comprehensive coverage and flexibility, while UPS SurePost is more economical and utilizes the USPS network for efficient last-mile delivery.

UPS Ground is delivered exclusively by UPS drivers, providing day-definite delivery typically within one to five business days. It offers multiple delivery attempts, a service guarantee, proof of delivery, and delivery of all package types. In addition, UPS Ground offers more value-added service options that aren’t available with SurePost, such as confirmation signatures, receiver management, and collect-on-delivery.

On the other hand, UPS SurePost is best suited for small and lightweight packages and leverages the single-carrier network of UPS. With SurePost, businesses can deliver to PO boxes and all US territories.

Advantages of UPS SurePost Shipping

When it comes to shipping with UPS SurePost, there are several advantages that businesses can capitalize on. From robust tracking capabilities to expedited delivery times, UPS SurePost offers benefits that can enhance the shipping experience for both businesses and their customers.


UPS provides tracking capabilities for packages shipped with SurePost from start to finish. Businesses can monitor the progress of their shipments, ensuring transparency and peace of mind throughout the delivery process. Customers can also track their orders, offering them visibility and reassurance.

No Consolidation

UPS doesn’t stage packages for consolidation before sending them out for final-mile delivery with USPS. This means packages move through the network quickly, speeding up delivery times.

Carbon Neutral

One of the notable benefits of shipping with UPS SurePost is its commitment to environmental sustainability through carbon neutrality. UPS has taken significant steps to minimize its environmental impact and offers carbon-neutral shipping options for SurePost customers for $0.05 per package.

Direct to Consumer

UPS SurePost is offered to businesses using a direct-to-consumer business model as well. This means that online retailers can also reap the benefits of this affordable shipping option, with UPS collecting parcels directly from their warehouse.

Drawbacks of UPS SurePost Shipping

While UPS SurePost offers notable benefits, it’s important to consider potential limitations or drawbacks associated with this shipping service. By understanding these considerations, businesses can make informed decisions and determine if UPS SurePost aligns with their specific shipping requirements and objectives.

Delivery Limitations

UPS can only offer SurePost deliveries to addresses that USPS delivers to. While their network does cover most addresses in the country, there are some rural areas that are not included. In addition, offshore and military destinations may be subject to longer delivery times.

Fees for Undeliverables

For packages that cannot be delivered, if the shipper wants the package returned, they will incur postage fees from the USPS.

Limitation of Liability

When shipping with UPS SurePost, businesses benefit from limited liability coverage of up to $100. This coverage provides a degree of financial protection in the event of loss, damage, or theft during transit. However, this liability is only up until the point of transfer to the USPS.

How to Save Even More On UPS Shipping

While choosing the right parcel delivery carrier and service offering is a huge step toward lowering shipping costs, there are other ways to save even more. If you’re looking to reduce shipping expenses and improve your bottom line, utilizing third-party companies like P3 Cost Analysts can make a significant difference. With our expertise in shipping contracts and invoicing audits, we can help save your business around 20 percent of your current delivery costs.

UPS SurePost is a contractual service, and carrier contracts can be complex and challenging to navigate, with different pricing tiers and fine print that can impact your costs. P3’s team of experts, comprised of former pricing analysts from major carriers, understands these intricacies and can provide insights to help you negotiate better deals.

In addition to securing better rates, third-party companies like P3 can also conduct thorough parcel invoice audits to ensure you’re not missing out on refunds and credits. Billions of dollars in shipping refunds go unclaimed each year, and our auditing process can help you identify and recover any owed refunds, providing a valuable boost to your bottom line.

UPS SurePost FAQ

What is the difference between UPS SurePost and UPS?

UPS is a shipping carrier that offers many different shipping services for companies and individuals alike. SurePost is one of their offerings that utilizes the USPS for the final mile delivery to residential addresses, resulting in cost savings for businesses.

Who is UPS SurePost delivered by?

The idea behind SurePost is that UPS handles the initial transportation of the packages, and then they are handed over to the USPS for local delivery. Initially, most UPS SurePost parcels were handled by the USPS for the final leg of the delivery. However, UPS now performs around 40 percent of packages’ final-mile delivery.

How does UPS SurePost tracking work?

Customers can track a SurePost package throughout the entire shipping process. UPS’s robust tracking capabilities follow parcels all the way through the final mile using the same tracking number.

Does UPS SurePost deliver on Sunday?

SurePost’s guaranteed delivery days are from Monday through Saturday. However, in some locations where USPS offers Sunday deliveries and UPS has Saturday operations, packages may be delivered on Sunday as well.

Is UPS SurePost safe?

Yes, UPS SurePost is generally considered safe for shipping packages. However, it’s important for businesses to ensure proper packaging to protect the contents during transportation. UPS provides guidelines and recommendations for packaging to ensure safe delivery. Still, with limited liability, high-value packages are best shipped through UPS Ground.

How reliable is UPS SurePost?

UPS SurePost is known to be a reliable shipping service, offering consistent delivery times and a track record of successful package transportation. However, delivery times may vary depending on factors such as origin and destination locations, weather conditions, and unforeseen circumstances.

Does UPS SurePost deliver to PO boxes?

Yes, UPS SurePost does deliver to PO boxes. The USPS is responsible for the final delivery of packages, and they have the capability to deliver to PO boxes as part of their standard mail services.

Be Sure About SurePost

UPS SurePost is an excellent low-cost shipping option for businesses. It combines UPS’s ground network with USPS for final delivery, making it an affordable solution for lightweight packages. SurePost offers advantages like tracking, quick package movement, and carbon-neutral shipping. However, it’s important to consider delivery limitations and limited liability coverage.

If you’re ready to take control of your shipping costs and explore ways to save, consider partnering with a trusted third-party company like P3 Cost Analysts. We can help you negotiate the best conditions for your shipping contracts and audit ongoing invoices to ensure you’re not overpaying.

Schedule a consultation today to discover how we can help your business lower its shipping rates and improve its financial performance.

Send this to a friend