More and more small business owners are increasingly relying on shipping and delivery services to keep their businesses up and running. Understanding FedEx's weight limit and size guidelines is key to avoiding costly and unnecessary shipping stress. When you know the best ways to ship, you save both your customers and your business money so you can continue to offer the best rates possible.

FedEx Weight Limit Basics

FedEx offers a variety of shipping services that all have different benefits, as well as guidelines for package weight. Here are FedEx's weight limit guidelines for some of their most popular services in the United States:

  • FedEx Express: Packages can weigh up to 150 pounds. 
  • FedEx Express International Services: Packages can weigh up to 150 pounds.
  • FedEx Express Ground: Packages can weigh up to 150 pounds.
  • FedEx Home Delivery: Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds.

While all the popular services except for FedEx Home Delivery allow for up to 150 pounds of weight in your package, not all services cost the same amount. If your customer needs a package in a hurry, FedEx Express might be the way to go, but it will cost them more than the less-speedy FedEx Express Ground service.

FedEx Size Limit Basics

If your package chimes in under the 150-pound weight limit, you might think that you're good to go, but this isn't necessarily the case. Each popular shipping service also features a specific FedEx size limit. If your package doesn't meet these requirements, you could be forced to break up the contents into more than one box or select a different service.

For a sampling of common FedEx size requirements, check out the rules for these popular services:

  • FedEx Express: Packages can be sized up to 119 inches in length and up to 165 inches in length and girth combined.

  • FedEx Express International Services: Packages can be sized up to 108 inches in length and 130 inches in length and girth combined.

  • FedEx Express Ground: Packages can be sized up to 108 inches in length and 165 inches in length and girth combined.

  • FedEx Home Delivery: Packages can be sized up to 108 inches in length and 165 inches in length and girth combined.

Girth refers to the thickest part of your package, so to make sure you meet guidelines, measure the length of your package and the widest part of your package and then add those two numbers together. They should equal less than 165 inches for every service except for international services where it must equal less than 130 inches.

FedEx and Dimensional Weight

Once you're certain that your package adheres to the FedEx weight limit and the FedEx size limit, the next factor to consider is the dimensional weight of your package. This refers to the density of your package given its size. FedEx calculates your shipping rate based on dimensional weight or actual weight, whichever is greater.

FedEx offers a dimensional weight calculator on their website, but if you ever need to calculate it for yourself, here's the process you can use:

  1. Multiply the length, height and width of your package to determine its total cubic size.

  2. Divide the cubic size of your package by 139 to calculate the dimensional weight.

Compare the dimensional weight of your package to the actual weight of the package. Whichever is larger is what FedEx will use to determine your shipping rate. For instance, if your customer's package has a dimensional weight of 25 pounds but an actual weight of only 10 pounds, you'll still be charged as if the package weighed 25 pounds.

Flat-Rate Pallet Shipping

FedEx Freight boxes offer a flat-rate pallet shipping option that a shipment above 151 pounds qualifies for. This means that you're not out of luck if you need to ship something above the FedEx weight limit of 150 pounds. This could come in handy if you need to ship goods for a trade show or to a customer ordering in bulk but you're not sending enough to require a truck.

FedEx offers two freight box sizes to meet your needs:

  • Smaller box: 48 inches by 40 inches by 28 inches with an integrated pallet.
  • Larger box: 48 inches by 40 inches by 38 inches without an integrated pallet.

If the pallet box you select doesn't include an integrated pallet, you'll need to provide your own. These pallet boxes are very large, so you might choose to pack your items in smaller boxes inside the freight box with plenty of packing materials to keep everything safe.

Flat-rate pallet shipping isn't as expensive as other shipping options but can sometimes take longer to reach its destination. Cost is determined by shipping speed and zone rather than by weight. For instance, a box headed to FedEx zone two via FedEx Freight Economy costs $133, while the same box sent using FedEx Freight Priority costs $141. If that box were headed to zone eight, it would cost $289 via the economy route and $330 via the priority route.

FedEx Freight services require a separate account from your regular business shipping account. You'll need to contact your FedEx account representative to obtain help signing up.

Smart Packing Methods

Whether you're utilizing flat-rate pallet shipping or simply mailing a small package to a customer, smart packing methods are vital to safely getting your goods where they're going. Improper packing methods can result in damaged goods and lost income for your small business.

Consider the following tips when packing your next shipment of goods:

  • Pack soft items that aren't fragile inside of a single box.

  • Keep fillers on hand: packing peanuts, packing paper, bubble wrap and foam.

  • Use plastic bags to protect items from dirt and moisture.

  • Pack small items in a plastic bag nestled inside a box before placing it in a larger shipping box.

  • Use plenty of tape along the sides and top of the box. 

  • Consider taping all around the box for heavy or particularly full boxes.

  • Use the box-in-box method for packing fragile things, and use packing peanuts to fill the void between the two boxes.

  • Use arrows to show which side goes up and label a package as fragile when needed.

  • Include delivery information inside the box.

  • Put tape over exterior labels or use plastic shipping label pouches.

Reducing Shipping Costs

Reducing shipping costs is one way to increase your profit margins or pass savings on to the customer through lower prices. When possible, utilize the smallest appropriate shipping boxes for your goods to avoid paying more in dimensional weight charges than makes sense for your products. Use shipping calculators to determine which FedEx services best suit the size and weight of your box given your budget.

Remember to plan ahead when you're sending large shipments. Being willing to opt for ground or economy services can save you lots of money if you're sending multiple heavy or bulky items. It's often cheaper to consolidate those items into a freight shipment than to pay for standard shipping charges on each box.