UPS vs DHL, which do you prefer? If you manage an e-commerce business, then you know the importance of choosing the right carrier.

Choosing the right carrier is not just a search for the right supplier. It’s about identifying a serious ally that will help you deliver the best value and service to your customers.

The right carrier will satisfy your customers with the best quality, speed, and cost-effective services.

Continue reading as we express the best services for your e-commerce business. UPS and DHL will be analyzed to other leading carriers to help you choose the smoothest shipping processes.

What this article is about


Here at ShippyPro, we want to help you in your search for that perfect carrier.

Today we will be analyzing UPS vs DHL and their National US services, National UK services, European, and international services.

DHL is headquartered in Germany and has a large presence in the global shipping market. UPS is based in the United States and is one of the world’s largest freight carries.

Here are some additional articles to help your business choose the best courier for their services::

UPS vs DHL: National US Shipments

The table below lists UPS and DHL’s services for US to US deliveries

ServiceDelivery TimeCostServiceDelivery TimeCost
UPS Express CriticalBest available time, provided when order is placedDHL SmartMail ParcelBy end of 2-3 business days
UPS Next Day Air EarlyNext business day delivery by 8:00 a.m.DHL SmartMail Parcel PlusBy end of 2-3 business days
UPS Next Day AirNext business day delivery by 10:30 a.m.DHL SmartMail Parcel ReturnBy end of 1-3 business days
UPS Next Day Air SaverNext business day delivery by 3:00 a.m.DHL Smart Mail FlatsBy end of 2-5 business days
UPS 2nd Day Air a.m.Delivery by second business day by 10:30 a.m.DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed MatterBy end of 2-5 business days
UPS 3 Day Air SelectDelivery by the third business day by the end of the day
UPS GroundDelivery between 1 to 5 business days

UPS’ services mainly fall into four categories:

1. Same Day Delivery is for those critical packages that must arrive on the same day, no matter what day of the year.

2. Next Day Delivery guarantees the delivery of your packages the next business day with options of 8:00am, 10:30am, or 3:00pm.

3. Two Day Delivery delivers your packages in two business days with the options of 10:00am or by the end of the day.

4. Three or More Day Delivery provides economic options with guaranteed delivery by the end of the third business day. Or for the most economic option of delivery between one and five business days.

DHL’s US domestic services can be broken into three categories based on delivery time:

1. DHL SmartMail Parcel and DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus both guarantee delivery between 2-3 days. The only difference between the two is DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus has a maximum weight 25lbs while DHL SmartMail Parcel only has a maximum weight of 1lb. Subsequently DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus costs a bit more.

2. DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed Matter and DHL Smart Mail Flats both guarantee delivery in 2-5 days. The only difference between the two is DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed Matter has a maximum weight 15lbs while DHL Smart Mail Flats only has a maximum weight of 1lb. As a result, DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed Matter costs slightly more than DHL Smart Mail Flats.

There is also DHL SmartMail Parcel Return that easily handles return packages within 1-3 days.

UPS vs DHL: National UK Shipments

This table compares UPS and DHL’s domestic services throughout the UK.

ServiceDelivery TimeCostServiceDelivery TimeCost
DHL Domestic Express 9:00Delivery by 9:00 am next business dayUPS Express PlusBefore 9:00 am the next business day
DHL Domestic Express 12:00Delivery by 12:00 pm next business dayUPS ExpressBefore 10:30 am the next business day
DHL Domestic ExpressDelivery by end of next business dayUPS Express SaverBefore 12:00 pm the next business day
DHL Domestic Express EasyDelivery by end of next business day once handed over to a DHL Service PointUPS Express CriticalSame day delivery within one hour of shipment collection, 365 days a year
UPS StandardBy end of day, 1-5 business days

UPS offers a wide range of services that can be broken down into same day, next day, and 1 to 5-day categories.

1. UPS Express Critical offers same-day delivery within one hour of collection. This is the perfect option if time is critical and money is not an issue.

2. UPS Express options deliver the package the next business day with times of delivery ranging from 9:00am, 10:30am and 12:30pm.

3. UPS Standard offers the best economic option with delivery times falling between 1 and 5 days. 

DHL’s UK services all offer next business day delivery with variations in time of delivery.

The options for time of delivery the next day are 9:00 am12:00 pm, by the end of the day, and by the end of the day once the parcel reaches a DHL Service Point.

Additionally, all of these services come with tracking and liability protection.

UPS vs DHL: European Shipments

The table below compares the UPS to DHL’s European service.

ServiceTime of DeliveryCostServiceTime of DeliveryCost
DHL Same Day
One business day after the withdrawalWorldWilde Express1-3 business days
DHL Express WorldwideOne business day
after the withdrawal
Express SaverBy the end of the day, 1-5 business days
DHL Express 9:00By 9:00 am next business dayStandardBy the end of a defined business day
DHL Express 12:00By 12:00 pm next business dayExpress PlusBy 9:00 am in 1-3 business days
DHL Economy SelectBy end of day in 1-4 business daysExpeditedBy the end of the day in 2-5 business days

UPS offers all the same services for Europe that it offers internationally.

1. Standard Service is the most basic service, trading slightly longer delivery times for cost-effectiveness.

2. Express Service offers the opposite with shorter delivery times at a slightly higher cost.

The main difference between UPS’s standard and express services is the mode of transportation. UPS standard services use a truck while express services use an airplane.

DHL ships to Europe using many of the same services it uses for international shipments. 

1. Express Worldwide is the most used service, reaching around 220 countries worldwide.

2. The Economy Select service is the most used service in Europe. It is a door to door service that allows to send single, multicolored packages and pallets in Europe.

The delivery is from 1 to 4 working days, with a weight limit of is 30 kg per package and volumetric weight of 200 kg per m³.

It is the cheapest service DHL provides for shipments in Europe, the service can be integrated with additional options to improve the quality.

One of these additional options is continuous monitoring, which allows you to follow progress of the goods from start to finish.

3. The Same Day Sprintline service is the fast road service that reaches the entire euro zone. The speed of the service does raise the cost, even if the distances are relatively short.

UPS vs DHL: International Shipments

The table below lists the international shipping services provided by UPS and DHL.

ServiceDeliveryCostServiceTime of DeliveryCost
DHL Sameday Jetline1-3 business days
after the withdrawal
Worldwide Express1-3 business days
DHL Sameday Sprintline1-3 business days
after the withdrawal
Worldwide Freight1-3 business days
DHL Express Worldwide1-5 business days
after the withdrawal
Standardassigned day
DHL Express 12:00By 12:00 am next business dayExpress PlusBy 9:00 am, 1-3 business days
DHL Express Easy1-3 business days
ExpeditedBy end of day, 2-5 business days
DHL Express Envelope1 day, end of the dayExpress SaverBy end of day, 1-5 business days

UPS offers several international services, some of these services are the same for shipments in Europe.

1. Express Saver and the Expedited Service are the most cost-effective solutions guaranteeing safe delivery with reasonable delivery times. Both are door-to-door services with delivery scheduled within 5 business days. Customs clearance is even included.

2. The Worldwide Express Saver is the fastest international solution UPS has to offer. Delivery times range from 1 to 3 days depending on the destination location (time slots are preset). Three free delivery attempts are included.

Finally, if you choose the Worldwide Express Saver option, free packaging is included in the service at a slightly lower price point.


DHL offers internationally a large variety of services with different costs and shipping times.

DHL provides many services, some as expensive as the Same Day service available both by air and by road.

1. WorldWide Express is the most frequently used service, with slightly longer times but at a lower cost.

2. The exclusive DHL Envelope service reserved only for documents, enables rapid delivery of documentation in approximately 220 countries around the world.

Additional Services for E-commerce

Both companies have well-structured services that include additional options.

DHL offers its customers express delivery at DHL Service Points. These are authorized stores where DHL customers can choose to receive the goods. This service allows the customer to pick up the package when it best suits them.

DHL offers services designed for the fashion industry: DHL Express for Fashion offers solutions for the fashion industry and an ad hoc packaging, with an elegant and refined design.

DHL Medical Express manages the transportation of time sensitive and temperature sensitive shipments for the Life Science sector.

For non-perishable food products, DHL Express Food & Beverage packages and places these items in suitable packaging.

The physical UPS stores offer customers business services as well as shipping materials. The most used additional service is the UPS Access Point.

A UPS Access Point is an efficient and convenient location that allows customers to send and collect their parcels. Through this service, you can also deposit parcels being returned and choose the preferred time to pick up the parcel.

It is an extremely simple service to use: Once you select the time the package will arrive at the access point, the customer will receive an email or sms message notifying them when their package will be ready to be picked up. Allowing them to collect their package at their earliest convenience. Only a valid identification card is required for the withdrawal.

UPS Returns is the UPS service that deals with simplifying and managing the returns of its customers. The service consists of 3 options:

1. UPS Returns is the standard return service that allows you to create and deliver customer-generated labels that attach to the original shipment or to a new delivery. Labels can be sent via email or traditional delivery.

2. UPS Returns Plus is the service where UPS is responsible for everything. From label creation to delivery of the item up to the final destination, all the responsibly is off your shoulders. The service has two additional options, a one-day return attempt or a 3-day return attempt.

3. Returns via the UPS Web is the service that allows the end customer to complete the reselling process online (via a web browser), including the creation of a UPS return label. Additionally, companies can link their back-end databases to the yield process, making the most of return product information, thereby reducing costs and improving customer service.

Reviews and Considerations

At ShippyPro, we operate in the e-commerce sector, especially in the field of online shipments. We are in daily contact with many domestic and international carriers.

Evaluating all the work of a carrier is not an easy task. The one perfect carrier does not exist, however, there are certain carriers that are more suited for the needs of your business. We want to help you choose the ideal logistics partner for your needs, but there are other considerations we need to look at.

To do this, we will show you the only meter of transparent judgment we have; the reviews of our customers who use UPS and DHL daily to ship domestically and around the globe.

Below are the total reviews of the two carriers formed on the basis of daily feedback from our customers.


Who do we choose to ship?

At this point, you understand how difficult it is to determine which carrier is better than another. It is well known that some carriers work better in some areas than others.

Now, considering that your goal is to provide the best customer service, there is nothing better than trying to enter into a contract with not one, but multiple carriers.

This way you will be able to offer excellent service in every area and every category of product.

Don’t limit yourself to a single shipping service provider. Instead, look to choose different carriers, each for a specific scope, significantly reducing asset management costs.

In fact, each freight forwarder charges very different tariffs in relation to the weight, size, and destination of the goods.

Comparing all these carriers is a time–consuming process, but there are services for managing the various shippers that can help.

It’s convenient to pick a software like ShippyPro, which automatically compares the prices of different vendors and allows you to set shipping rules, saving you time and money.

Connect UPS and DHL to ShippyPro

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