Return Labels

Explains the various ways to create return labels in ShipStation

It's important you have the ability to create return labels so your customers can get items back to you, whether the product wasn't what they were expecting, arrived damaged, or was the wrong item altogether.

To learn how a good returns policy can actually help increase your business, check out our How to Process Returns blog post.

In ShipStation, you have three ways to create return labels, each with its own advantage:

  1. Create a return label and email it to your customer when they request one.

  2. Send a return label with the shipment so your customer can return without contacting you.

  3. Let your customer self-serve using the ShipStation Branded Returns portal.

    Review our Branded Returns article to learn how to set up and use the Branded Returns option.

Before Creating Return Labels

How Returns Work in ShipStation

Creating a return label uses funds from your carrier account. ShipStation currently does not support invoicing customers for return label fees. Return labels are not available for international shipments and cannot be generated for U.S. territories or APO/FPO/DPO addresses due to the need for customs information. It's important to note that creating a return label does not trigger marketplace notifications to the order source, and these labels count towards your monthly shipment limit, even if they remain unused.

Returns for Specific Carriers and Multi-package Shipments

Not all carriers or services can be used for return labels. Refer to the Integrations Help Guide for carrier-specific details. Please keep in mind that the multi-package option is not applicable for return labels. If you select the option to include a return label with outgoing shipments set to use multiple packages, only the outgoing labels will generate. If you require return labels in this scenario, consider splitting the order into multiple shipments and following the steps in the Send Return Label with Shipments section below to generate a return for each order.

Billing and Voiding for Return Labels

The billing process for return labels varies depending on the type of carrier. Labels created with ShipStation Carriers or prepaid postage providers like or Endicia will be charged upon creation, with the exception of Endicia's pay-on-use labels. You can void unused return labels for a refund, similar to outbound labels. In contrast, return labels using invoiced carriers, such as UPS or FedEx, will only be charged to your account if the label is used.

Return Labels On Demand Demo Video

Watch this demo video to learn how you can create return labels on demand in ShipStation.


ShipStation University Creating Return Labels Course

If learning by doing is more your style, take the ShipStation University Creating Return Labels course. The lesson videos will show you how to create individual return labels on demand, send return labels with your outgoing shipments, and use the Branded Returns Portal so your customers can self-service their returns.

Create Return Label Upon Request

You can create a domestic return label for orders you have created labels for or marked as shipped in ShipStation. You can initiate the Returns process from either the Order Details or the Shipment Details screens.

You should now see the Return Record in the Shipments section of the Order Details screen. The return record will also show in Shipping > Returns. Learn how to mark returned shipments as received.

Set a Default Return Service

Email Return Label to Customer

If you did not email your customer a copy of the return label when the label was created, but want to send them one now, follow the steps below:

Your customer can then print the return label for the shipment and send it back to you.

If you'd like to customise a return email message that will always be included in the email to your customer that contains the return label:


Return Reasons List

There is a selection of reasons for returns that can be useful for reporting. The included reasons are: 

  • Arrived Too Late

  • Changed Mind

  • Courtesy Return

  • Damaged

  • Defective

  • Exchange

  • Missing Parts

  • Not as Described

  • Ordered Wrong Item

  • Other

  • Received Wrong Item

  • Rental

  • Warranty

These reasons are listed both in-app and on the branded returns page. Run your Returns Export to get a spreadsheet that includes the Return Reason to evaluate common reasons for returned items.


Send Return Label with Shipment

The option to create a return label at the same time as the outgoing label is only available for USPS, FedEx, UPS, and Canada Post domestic shipments. Return labels cannot be billed to a third-party carrier account, even if the outbound label is billed to a third party.

Insurance Settings and Rate Quote not included with Returns

  • Insurance settings will not carry over to the return label. If you need insurance for a return label you send with an outbound shipment, use the Rate Calculator to create that return label.

  • The rate for the return label will not be included in the quoted rate displayed in ShipStation

To create a return label at the same time as the outbound shipping label so you can include the return label with the shipment, do the following:

Now, when you create the outbound label, ShipStation will also create the return label using the service and package you selected. ShipStation will use the same weight and dimensions for the return label as for the outbound shipment.

Automate Your Return Labels

If you plan to always include return labels for certain shipments, use Automation Rules to automatically apply the Include Return Label option for your orders.

The widget in ShipStation where all shipping options are set. The widget appears in the Orders grid Shipping Sidebar, as well as the Order and Shipment Details screens.

Create Return Label Without an Order

You can create a return label in the Rate Browser if you need to create a return label that is not associated with an order. The process is very similar to creating an outbound label with the Rate Browser, with one small change.

Rate Browser Return Labels

To create a return label from the Rate Browser, follow the same steps to create an outbound label but select the Create a Return Label option above the address fields.

Then choose to either Email or Download the label.

Arrow points to Create a Return Label box, checked. Box highlights email address, Authorize and Email button.

The widget in ShipStation where all shipping options are set. The widget appears in the Orders grid Shipping Sidebar, as well as the Order and Shipment Details screens.