Return Labels

Explains the various ways to create return labels in ShipStation, how to mark returned shipments, and which carriers support creating return labels in ShipStation.

Returns are an unfortunate, but necessary, part of any eCommerce business. 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 about 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.

    To learn how to set up and use the Branded Returns option, review our Branded Returns article.  

Important Details about Return Labels!

  • ShipStation does not currently support return labels for international shipments. ShipStation can create return labels for domestic shipments only.

  • Creating a Return Label will not send marketplace notifications to the order source.

  • Return labels count toward your monthly shipment limit, even if they are not used.

  • Not all carriers/services can be used for return labels. Review our Integrations Help Guide for details about any specific carrier. Details about Return Labels are in the Available Features section within each carrier's article.

  • The multi-package option is not available for return labels. If the option to include a return label with the outgoing shipment is selected and the shipment is set to use multiple packages, the outgoing labels will generate normally, but no return label will generate. If you need return labels in this scenario, the best option is to split the order into multiple shipments and then follow the steps below for each order.

  • If you have multiple accounts for a single carrier, return labels will always use the primary account.

  • Return labels cannot be billed to a third-party carrier account, even if the outbound label is billed to a third party.

  • Return labels created using ShipStation Carriers or a pre-paid postage provider like or Endicia, will be charged when you create the label regardless of whether it is used by your customer or not (Endicia's pay-on-use labels are an exception to this). You can void unused return labels for a refund, just like outbound labels.

  • Return labels using invoiced carriers, like 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 screen or the Shipment Details screen

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.

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.

Create a Label With the Rate Calculator

The Rate Calculator allows you to create both outgoing and return labels without creating an order first. 

ShipStation will create the label at this point and, depending on your printing setup, will either send it to your default printer or ask you to print the label. 

If ShipStation is not able to create the label, we'll display any relevant errors so you can correct the shipping details and attempt to create the label again.

You can print the label immediately or print it later from the Shipments tab. Review the Print Labels article in this help guide for more details on available print options.

Rate Calculator Return Labels

To create a return label from the Rate Calculator, 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.

Rate Browser pop-up. Arrow points to Return Label checkbox, box outlines option to email & field for email address

Mark Returned Shipments as Received

If the Automatically mark returns as "Received" if tracked option is checked in Settings > Shipping > Returns, and the return uses a service that supports auto-tracking, ShipStation will update the shipment as Received as soon as we receive the tracking notification from the carrier.


If this option is not checked, or the return service does not support auto-tracking, you can manually mark the shipment as Received in ShipStation so you can keep track of outstanding returns. 

You can mark returns as received from the following locations:

The Return Details screen:

V3 Return Detail with arrow pointed to Other Actions menu with Mark as Received selected.

Open the Return Details screen, click Other Actions and choose Mark As Received.

The Returns widget:

V3 Order details widget with arrow pointing to menu and Mark as Received selected.

Open the Order Details screen, click the action menu for the return, and choose Mark As Received.

The Shipping > Returns screen:

V3 Shipping Returns grid with Mark as Received button highlighted.

Go to the Shipping > Returns screen, select the return, and click the Mark As Received button.

Once you click Mark As Received, choose the date from the pop-up calendar and then click Mark As Received one more time.


Also known as pay-on-scan. These are labels you are not charged for until the carrier actually scans them into the mail stream. UPS and FedEx are pay-on-use labels, which means you do not need to void them to get a refund if they are not used (though you may want to void them if you are near your subscription shipment limit).


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.