UPS – The Complete Guide to Shipping, Tracking and Courier Services

United Parcel Service (UPS) is one of the world’s largest delivery and logistics companies. With operations in over 220 countries and territories, UPS delivers an average of 21 million packages and documents per day.

In this comprehensive UPS review, we will cover everything you need to know about using UPS for shipping, tracking, and courier services.

An Introduction to UPS

Founded in 1907 as a messenger service in Seattle, UPS has grown into a global company with revenue of over $97 billion in 2021. UPS operates one of the largest airlines and trucking fleets in the world to handle over 5.5 billion shipments annually.

Some key facts about UPS:

  • Headquarters in Atlanta, GA
  • Employs over 534,000 people worldwide
  • Services over 220 countries and territories
  • Owns 251 jets and over 123,000 delivery vehicles
  • Shipped 21.1 million packages per day in 2021
  • Offers pickup and delivery options for both residential and business

UPS is best known for its reliable next-day air and ground delivery within the US and to over 220 countries internationally. The company handles all types of shipments from letters and documents to heavy freight.

UPS offers a wide range of shipping services from cost-effective ground delivery to time-critical air freight. The company also provides specialized healthcare, automotive, and high-value deliveries.

UPS Shipping Services Reviewed

UPS provides domestic and international shipping through ground, air, and freight options. Let’s take a look at the key shipping services offered:

Domestic Shipping

UPS Ground – For cost-effective 1-5 day delivery within the continental US. Transit days depend on the origin and destination. No weekend or holiday deliveries.

UPS 3 Day Select – Guaranteed 3 business day delivery to most US addresses.

UPS 2nd Day Air – Provides next business day delivery by noon or end of day.

UPS Next Day Air – Guarantees next business day delivery by 10:30 AM, noon, or end of day.

UPS Next Day Air Early – Delivers critical shipments by 8:00 or 8:30 AM the next business day.

UPS SurePost – Uses USPS for final delivery after initial UPS transit. Lower cost but slower delivery time.

International Shipping

UPS Worldwide Express – Time-definite door-to-door delivery typically within 1-3 days to major cities worldwide.

UPS Worldwide Expedited – Cost-effective 2-5 day delivery to over 220 countries and territories.

UPS Standard – Lower-cost but slower delivery in 3-7 business days.

UPS Worldwide Saver – Least expensive international option for non-urgent shipments. Delivers in 2-5 days.

UPS Retail Package + – Consolidates shipments going to the same country to offer discounted rates.

UPS Express Critical – Urgent international delivery within hours for critical shipments.

Freight Shipping

UPS offers LTL (less-than-truckload) and FTL (full-truckload) freight shipping.

UPS Freight LTL – For shipments between 150-20,000 lbs. Door-to-door transit typically in 1-5 days.

UPS Freight FTL – Full trailer deliveries for freight over 20,000 lbs. Point-to-point service.

UPS Air Freight – Expedited air cargo delivery of palletized freight to over 220 countries. Guaranteed time-definite service.

UPS Ocean Freight – Full container load (FCL) and less container load (LCL) ocean freight between worldwide ports. Slowest but most cost-effective option for international freight.

Other Key UPS Shipping Options

  • UPS Access Point – Alternate delivery locations like local businesses for package pickup.
  • UPS My Choice – Recipient delivery alerts, location tracking, and delivery change options.
  • CampusShip – Discounted and simplified shipping for college students within the US.
  • UPS Trade Direct – Streamlined cross-border shipping between US, Mexico, and Canada.
  • UPS Carbon Neutral – Offsets emissions from shipments to make deliveries carbon neutral.
  • UPS Customized Delivery – Scheduling delivery timeframes, evening delivery, weekend delivery etc.

UPS Package Tracking

One of the key benefits of UPS is its robust tracking system to monitor shipments in real-time.

Some ways to track UPS packages include:

  • – Enter the tracking number to see detailed tracking info and delivery status.
  • UPS Mobile App – Download the app on iOS or Android to track shipments on-the-go.
  • Text Tracking – Receive SMS text alerts by texting tracking number to 28777 (2USPS). US only.
  • UPS My Choice – Provides proactive delivery alerts and flexible delivery options.
  • Delivery Intercept – Change an in-transit package’s destination or request hold for pickup. Fee applicable.

UPS tracking provides detailed shipment information including:

  • Origin scan
  • Departure scan
  • Arrival scan
  • Out for delivery scan
  • Delivered scan
  • Exception scans for delays
  • Current location with city and state
  • Estimated delivery date
  • Delivery instructions
  • And more

The level of tracking from pickup to final delivery provides complete visibility and peace of mind.

UPS Locations and Access Points

UPS has an extensive network of locations and Access Points that provide convenient pickup and delivery options.

UPS Store Locations

There are over 5,000 UPS Store locations in the US that provide shipping, packaging, printing, mailboxes, and other services. UPS Stores are independently owned franchises. You can ship, return, or hold packages for pickup at UPS Stores.

UPS Access Points

UPS Access Points are secure alternate delivery locations like convenience stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores. There are over 40,000 Access Points worldwide to conveniently receive home deliveries.

UPS Customer Centers

UPS has over 1,800 customer centers that provide shipping, freight, mailbox, and other services. This includes the large UPS distribution hubs.

UPS Drop Boxes

UPS offers over 78,000 drop boxes and drop-off locations in the US to easily drop off pre-labeled packages. Many are available 24/7 outside UPS Stores, customer centers etc.

Authorized Shipping Outlets

You can ship from over 4,600 authorized shipping outlets like Staples and Office Depot. Hand over pre-labeled packages for convenient shipping.

Having locations everywhere makes UPS ideal for both residential and business pickup and delivery.

UPS Accounts and Shipping Rates

UPS offers individual and business accounts to save on shipping costs. Let’s look at the account options and how to get the best UPS rates.

UPS Accounts

  • UPS My Choice – Free for individuals. Provides delivery alerts, tracking, and delivery changes.
  • UPS Profile – Free for businesses. Saves address book and provides billing options.
  • UPS Standard Account – For small business. Offers discounted rates with weekly billing.
  • UPS Preferred Account – For mid-size business. Additional discounts and upgraded services.
  • UPS WorldShip Account – For high volume shippers. Deeply discounted rates and access to shipping software.

Getting the Best UPS Rates

  • Compare rates across UPS Ground, Air, Freight, and Worldwide services.
  • Use UPS rate calculators to estimate costs for your shipment.
  • Sign up for a UPS account to get discounts and lower LTL freight rates.
  • Look for promotion codes and coupons on the UPS website.
  • Ship from UPS Store or Access Point locations for potential discounts.
  • Ask your UPS account manager for customized discounted rates based on volume.
  • Ensure accurate package dimensions and weight – minor differences can impact fees.
  • Ship multiple packages together in one shipment to reduce costs.
  • Consider UPS SurePost for qualifying residential packages. Final delivery by USPS can significantly reduce costs.
  • Allow extra 1-2 days in transit time for the most cost-effective delivery options.

Top UPS Services for Businesses

UPS offers a suite of services tailored specifically for businesses. Here are some of the most useful UPS business services:

UPS CampusShip

Free UPS shipping integration for ecommerce, CRM, order management, and other business systems. Discounted campus rates.

UPS Billing Center

One centralized account for managing shipping across multiple UPS accounts. Consolidated billing and reporting.

UPS Capital Insurance

Provides coverage for high value or fragile items including electronics, healthcare, wines etc.

UPS Trade Management Services

Assists with customs brokerage, trade consulting, import/export compliance for streamlined international trade.

UPS Mail Innovations

Uses USPS for final delivery of lightweight letters and packages. Low cost outbound mailing option.

UPS Consulting

Experts evaluate supply chain and transportation logistics to identify cost savings and process improvements.

UPS Fleet Management Solutions

Offers leasing, maintenance, fueling etc. for delivery fleets. Provides access to UPS’s fleet expertise.

UPS Warehousing and Fulfillment

Outsourced storage, order processing, and shipping management from UPS supply chain facilities.

UPS PaperlessĀ® Document Shipping

Send envelopes and documents without printing and physically shipping. Faster and more secure.

UPS Smart Pickup

Uses QR codes for contactless scheduled package pickup from businesses. Streamlines daily pickups.

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UPS Carbon Impact Assessment

Analyzes shipping carbon footprint. Recommends ways to reduce emissions and purchase carbon offsets.

Common UPS Delivery Issues and Solutions

Despite its vast infrastructure, UPS deliveries can sometimes run into problems. Here are troubleshooting tips for common UPS issues:

Package Not Delivered On Time

  • Check the latest delivery estimate under shipment tracking.
  • For expedited shipments, request a delivery intercept to change delivery date, location, or place a hold.
  • Contact UPS and request a refund if guaranteed delivery times were not met.

Wrong Address Shown Under Tracking

  • Verify the address you shipped to. Contact UPS to update address and attempt redelivery.
  • For residential shipments, check if an alternate Access Point location is listed and redirect package there.
  • Request package be held at UPS facility for pickup if address cannot be corrected.

Damaged Package

  • Refuse delivery if damage is visible upon receiving the package.
  • Report damage to UPS within 48 hours and file a claim for compensation. Keep all packaging materials.
  • Take photos of damage and packaging as evidence for insurance claims.
  • For high value items, purchase additional UPS Capital insurance for more coverage.

Lost or Stolen Package

  • Report lost package to UPS immediately and file a claim. The sooner its reported, the better.
  • Provide as much detail as possible – shipment details, tracking number, contents, value etc.
  • Escalate to a UPS supervisor if initial claim is denied and you have delivery confirmation showing package was not received.

Billing Issues

  • Log in to your UPS account to view details on shipping bills. Compare charges to your own shipment records.
  • For billing disputes, email UPS Accounts Receivable department within 180 days along with documentation.
  • Request invoice adjustments or credits if charges were incorrect, for unused labels, duplicate bills etc.
  • Add UPS Billing Center to consolidate invoices from multiple accounts in one place.

Frequently Asked Questions about UPS

What is the maximum weight and size for UPS packages?

UPS has the following weight and size limits:

  • Maximum weight:
    • UPS Ground: 150 lbs
    • UPS Air: 150 lbs
    • UPS Freight: Unlimited
  • Maximum size:
    • Up to 165 inches in length and girth (L+2W+2H)
    • Up to 108 inches in length for UPS Air freight pallets

Does UPS deliver on weekends or holidays?

UPS does not offer routine weekend or holiday delivery for UPS Ground, Air, Worldwide, or Freight services. The only exceptions are UPS Next Day Air Early (Saturday delivery available) and UPS Express Critical (24/7 delivery available).

How can I hold a UPS package at a location for pickup?

You can hold a UPS package for pickup by:

  • Using UPS My Choice delivery options to select Hold for Pickup and designate a UPS location
  • Contacting UPS by phone to request a package hold once its in-transit
  • Having the shipper select Hold for Pickup when creating the shipment
  • Providing an Access Point as delivery location which holds the package

How much does it cost to insure a UPS shipment?

UPS provides the following default insurance coverage:

  • UPS Ground: $100 of coverage
  • UPS Air Services: $100 of coverage
  • UPS Worldwide Express: $100 of coverage

You can purchase additional UPS Capital insurance at an additional cost. Rates vary based on value, distance, mode, and service. High value shipments over $50,000 may require Marine Insurance.

Does UPS deliver to P.O. boxes?

No. UPS does not deliver to P.O. boxes. You must provide a physical address. However, UPS Access Point locations can sometimes accept deliveries on behalf of P.O boxes. Contact your local Access Point for more information.


With its vast global infrastructure and reliable services, UPS remains an excellent choice for shipping. Whether you need cost-effective ground delivery or urgent air freight, UPS offers a solution tailored to your requirements.

From real-time tracking to proactive delivery alerts, the technology and support provides complete transparency and control. And with a range of access points and self-service options, sending and receiving packages is more convenient than ever.

While pricing is not the cheapest, the level of service and security makes UPS ideal for both individuals and businesses shipping domestically or internationally. Overall, UPS continues to deliver as one of the leading carriers for parcels big and small.

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