USPS Return Label – A Complete Guide

usps return label

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The ever-evolving landscape of e-commerce and online shopping, the importance of a seamless and efficient return process cannot be overstated. At the heart of this process lies the critical role of return labels, a component that significantly influences customer satisfaction and business efficiency. 

The United States Postal Service (USPS), a cornerstone in the American mailing system, offers a solution that stands out for its convenience and reliability: the USPS Return Label. This article provides an in-depth exploration of USPS return labels, including their development, various forms, and the myriad benefits they offer consumers and businesses. 

For a broader understanding of return labels and their impact on the e-commerce ecosystem, consider reading our detailed guide – What Are Return Labels?

What are USPS Return Labels?

USPS return labels are pre-paid, pre-addressed postage labels that allow customers to return purchased goods to the seller. The seller generates these labels and typically features a QR code or barcode that links to the customer’s order information, ensuring accurate and efficient return processing. The label contains all necessary information for shipping, including the return address and a tracking number. 

When a customer initiates a return, the seller provides a USPS return label by email or included in the original shipment. Customers attach the label to the package and drop it off at a USPS facility or schedule a pickup.

This system streamlines the return process, making it convenient for customers and allowing sellers to manage returns more effectively. 

Barcodes are a cornerstone in the logistics and supply chain sectors, significantly boosting the precision and efficiency of tracking and inventory management. To gain a comprehensive understanding of barcoding technology, we offer a series of specialised guides:


For more extensive insights and resources on barcodes, please check out our comprehensive Barcode Learning Centre. This hub is designed to equip you with all the necessary information to navigate the intricate world of barcoding.

How Do USPS Return Labels Work?

The working of the USPS prepaid return shipping labels has been highlighted as follows:

  • Label Provision: Sellers provide USPS return labels either pre-included in the shipment or sent to customers upon request for a return.
  • Customer Usage: When a return is needed, customers attach the provided label to their package without needing additional postage.
  • Package Drop-off or Pickup: Customers can drop the package at any USPS location or opt for a home pickup service.
  • Tracking the Return: Customers and sellers can track the package’s return journey using USPS tracking services.
  • Return Processing: Once the package is received, the seller processes the return according to their return policy, typically involving a refund, exchange, or store credit.

What Information is Required on a USPS Return Label

Ten pieces of information required on a USPS return label

USPS prepaid return labels are meticulously designed to include several key components, each serving a specific function to ensure the efficient processing of returned items. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each element:

  • Sender’s Return Address: This is the address of the business or individual to whom the package is being returned.
  • Recipient’s Address: This is the original customer’s address. It’s included to show the origin of the return and for record-keeping purposes. It must appear below the banner in the upper left-hand corner of the label. If the return address is not pre-printed, space must be provided for the customer to enter a return address. 
  • Pre-Paid Postage: USPS return labels come with pre-paid postage, indicating that the sender (typically the business) has already covered the cost of the return shipping. This is often a barcode or stamp.
  • Tracking Barcode: A crucial feature, this barcode allows both the sender and recipient to track the package’s journey. It’s scanned at various points during transit, providing real-time location updates.
  • Return Service Type: This specifies the class of mail service used (e.g., First-Class, Priority Mail). It determines the speed and handling of the return shipment.
  • Weight and Package Type: This section includes the package’s weight and the packaging type, which are essential for postage calculation and sorting.
  • Special Handling Instructions: If applicable, labels may include instructions like “Fragile,” “Perishable,” or other indicators for special handling during transit.
  • QR Code (if applicable): Some USPS return labels include a QR code provided by the businesses, which can be scanned for quick access to return instructions or additional information online. This feature is not type-specific; rather, E-commerce businesses and merchants have the option to simplify the process of printing both outbound and return shipping labels for their customers. By collaborating with participating label providers, they can issue a Label Broker ID along with a QR code to their customers. This system allows customers to have their labels printed conveniently by the USPS.
  • Return Authorisation Number: Often used in business returns, this number links the package to a specific return transaction, aiding in efficient processing and record-keeping.
  • Date of Mailing: This indicates when the package was sent, which is important for tracking and return policies with time limits.

To learn how to make and print shipping labels, please refer to our guides – How to Make Shipping Labels and How to Print Shipping Labels

Why Should You Use USPS as a Return Label Service?

Certain factors about the USPS return label service give it an edge over other such services. 

Print Click-N-Ship

This service allows users to input package details, choose a suitable USPS return service, and pay for postage without leaving home or office. The convenience of Click-N-Ship lies in its ability to generate labels that can be printed immediately, streamlining the return process. This tool is particularly advantageous for businesses, as it integrates with USPS tracking, providing real-time updates on the return package’s status. 

Label Broker ID

The USPS Label Broker ID feature addresses the common challenge of printing return labels, especially for customers who need easy access to a printer. This innovative service lets customers generate a return shipping label online and receive a unique Label Broker ID. 

Instead of printing the label, customers can take their package along with the Label Broker ID to a local USPS Post Office. There, the postal staff scanned the ID and printed the return label on the spot. This service is particularly beneficial for customers who rely on mobile devices or do not have a printer at home. 

It ensures that all customers, regardless of their technological resources, can participate in the online returns process easily and conveniently.

Integrated Return Label Tools For Website

This feature allows customers to process their return labels easily through the business’s website. By embedding USPS’s return label tool, businesses can offer a seamless return experience, where customers simply enter their details and generate a return label specific to their order. It reduces the need for customer service intervention in the return process and ensures accurate, efficient handling of returns. 

Types of USPS Return Services

Table of five types of USPS return services

USPS offers various return label services, each tailored to meet specific shipping needs and scenarios. These services range from expedited deliveries to cost-effective solutions for high-volume returns. Understanding the features and suitability of each type helps businesses and customers choose the most appropriate service.

Service Type
Delivery Speed
Weight Limit
Ideal For
Additional Features
Priority Mail Express Return
Next-day to 2-day
Up to 70 lbs
Time-sensitive or high-value items; shippers who want a fast, premium solution for prepaid returns.
Includes US$100 insurance; option for additional insurance up to US$5,000.
Priority Mail Return
1-3 days
Up to 70 lbs.
High-volume shippers seeking a balance of speed and value for time-sensitive or high-value items.
Includes US$100 insurance; option for additional insurance up to US$5,000.
USPS Ground Advantage Return
2-5 days
Up to 70 lbs.
Ground shipping option for less urgent returns, including HAZMAT not suitable for air travel.
Includes US$100 insurance; option for additional insurance up to US$5,000.
Bulk Parcel Return Service
2-9 days
Up to 70 lbs.
Shippers of Parcel Select Lightweight or USPS Marketing Mail packages for unopened or relabeled items.
Designed for high-volume returns with a minimum annual volume of 10,000 return packages.
Parcel Return Service (PRS)
Up to 70 lbs.
Shippers with a high volume of returns require prepaid, preprinted return shipping labels.
It requires an approved reverse manifesting system and logistics capabilities.

Priority Mail Return Service

The Priority Mail Return Service is a premium option for time-sensitive or valuable items. This service stands out for its balance of speed and affordability, making it an ideal choice for businesses that require quick returns without incurring high costs. 

The pricing starts at US$27.25 for Postage and US$23.75 for commercial shippers. It takes roughly 1-2 days to get the parcel delivered. The weight limit for this service is up to 70 lbs.

Suitable for a wide range of merchandise, such as Electronics, books, and home decor, Priority Mail Return Label Service ensures that returned items are handled promptly and efficiently, providing a reliable solution for businesses prioritising customer satisfaction and swift turnaround times.

First Class Package Return Service

The First Class Package Return Service is an economical solution for returning lightweight merchandise or documents. This service is optimal for items weighing less than 16 ounces. It primarily utilises ground transportation, presenting a cost-effective option for non-urgent returns. 

The cost varies based on two size options: standard/square and oversized. 

Standard-sized letters and postcard postage begin at US$0.60 and US$0.44, respectively. In contrast, the starting price for oversized letters and postcards is US$0.99 and US$0.60. 

Large envelopes are priced at US$1.20, and the rate for a small package is US$4.80. The shipping time varies between 1 and 5 days. The weight range is up to 70 lbs.

It is particularly advantageous for businesses specialising in small, lightweight products. The First Class Package Return Service balances affordability with reliable delivery, ensuring customer satisfaction while keeping shipping costs in check. 

Ground Return Service

The Ground Return Service is designed for businesses seeking a budget-friendly return option without the urgency of expedited delivery. This service is particularly advantageous for high-volume shippers prioritising low shipping costs over speed. 

Delivering this type of parcel takes about 2 to 5 business days, and the price range starts from US$8.80. The weight of the parcel can have a maximum limit of 70 lbs.

It is an excellent choice for non-time-sensitive returns, allowing businesses to manage their logistics expenses more effectively. The Ground Return Service is a testament to USPS’s commitment to providing versatile, cost-efficient solutions for diverse shipping needs.

Bulk Parcel Return Service

The Bulk Parcel Return Service is expertly designed to cater to businesses handling a high volume of returns, typically more than 10,000 packages annually. This service is a strategic solution for managing large-scale returns, encompassing undeliverable and resealed packages. 

The Bulk Parcel Return Service offers an efficient solution for businesses grappling with a high volume of returns. It’s designed to manage substantial returns effectively while upholding high service standards. Ideal for companies seeking a robust and smooth return process, this service is a vital logistical tool for handling extensive return operations.

The delivery roughly takes 2 to 9 days. 

Parcel Return Service

The Parcel Return Service by USPS facilitates the easy merchandise return for businesses and consumers. It allows items to be dropped off at any USPS location or via scheduled pickups, streamlining the return process.

Ideal for e-commerce and catalogue returns, this service is efficient and user-friendly, ensuring a smooth return experience for various types of merchandise.

Creating USPS Labels With BarTender Software

Creating USPS Labels With BarTender Software

BarTender software stands out in the landscape of label creation and print management, offering a suite of powerful features tailored for efficiency and customisation. Known for its robust capabilities in designing and printing labels, BarTender is a preferred choice for businesses looking to streamline their shipping processes, particularly when dealing with USPS labels.

Capabilities of BarTender Software

  • Versatile Design Options: BarTender allows users to create labels from scratch or modify existing templates. Its intuitive interface supports a range of design elements, including text, barcodes, and graphics.
  • Extensive Barcode Support: The software excels in generating various barcode symbologies, ensuring compatibility with industry standards and specific postal requirements.
  • Integration with Business Systems: BarTender seamlessly integrates with numerous enterprise systems, facilitating automatic label data population from external databases, spreadsheets, or ERP systems.
  • Compliance and Accuracy: With features designed to meet postal regulations and standards, BarTender helps ensure that USPS labels are compliant and accurate, reducing the risk of shipping errors.
  • Scalability and Efficiency: Suitable for businesses of all sizes, BarTender is adept at managing high-volume label printing, enhancing efficiency for large-scale operations.

With such comprehensive capabilities, BarTender simplifies the creation of USPS labels. The software includes a range of USPS label templates, which users can easily access and customise to fit their specific shipping needs. These templates include. 

  • PME USPS Returns UN3373
  • USPS Hold For Pickup
  • USPS IMpb – Non-Standard Parcel
  • USPS IMpb – Standard Parcel
  • USPS Barcoded Sack Label
  • USPS Barcoded Tray Label
  • USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode

At Triton Store, we recognise the critical role of effective and compliant label printing in the shipping industry. To meet this need, we offer the BarTender software, available in various editions including Starter Edition, Professional Edition, Automation Edition and Enterprise Edition. Each edition is tailored to different levels of labelling complexity and automation needs.

For businesses seeking a cutting-edge solution, BarTender Cloud presents a revolutionary approach to label management. This cloud-based platform allows for remote control over label printing and design, bringing BarTender’s capabilities to you, wherever you are. To see how BarTender Cloud compares with the traditional on-premise BarTender, check out our comprehensive guide: BarTender Cloud vs BarTender Software.

Opting for BarTender from Triton Store means enhancing your labelling and inventory management systems. With its adaptability, robust security, and extensive support, BarTender elevates your operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Discover the transformative impact of BarTender Software on your label printing processes by connecting with us via our live chat service, or delve deeper into its features by reading our detailed article: What is BarTender Software? 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can USPS Return Labels Be Used for International Returns?

USPS return labels are primarily designed for domestic returns within the United States. Different regulations and postage rates apply for international returns, and customers usually need to make separate arrangements with USPS or use international shipping services. 

Please refer to our What is an International Shipping Label article to learn more about international shipping. 

Is It Possible to Modify a USPS Return Label After It Has Been Created?

Once a USPS return label is generated, it cannot be modified. If changes are needed, a new label must be created. This ensures accuracy in the tracking and billing information associated with each label.

How Long Are USPS Return Labels Valid After They Are Issued?

USPS return labels typically have a validity period, which can vary. Using the return label within a specific timeframe, often 28 days, is generally recommended to ensure the return is processed smoothly.  

To learn more about the validity of shipping labels, read our article – Do Shipping Labels Expire?

What Happens If a Prepaid USPS Return Shipping Label Is Lost or Damaged?

If a USPS prepaid return shipping label is lost or damaged, the customer or business will need to request a new label. The original label becomes void and cannot be used once it’s reported as lost or damaged.

To learn about prepaid shipping labels, check out this guide – What is a Prepaid Shipping Label?

Can Businesses Include Insurance on Items Shipped with USPS Return Labels?

Businesses can opt for additional insurance on items shipped with USPS return labels. This provides extra security and coverage for valuable or fragile items during the return process.


USPS stands out as a superior choice to deliver label service due to its combination of cost-effectiveness, extensive national network, and reliable service. Its reputation for efficiency and transparent and easy-to-use tracking systems offers a seamless experience for both businesses and consumers. 

The flexibility in service options and user-friendly interface caters to diverse needs, ensuring that packages of all sizes and types are handled with care. Additionally, USPS’s commitment to sustainability aligns with the growing environmental consciousness in logistics.

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