In the heart of Silicon Valley, we saw a man shipping a bare tower computer at a local FedEx store in Sunnyvale, California -- no box, no cables -- and it didn't raise a single eyebrow. What did was the clerk's request to see a photo ID before he could wrap up the package for shipping. When the customer admitted he didn't have one on him, an Apple Card did the job.
That's when we noticed a posted sign: "Attention: New government-issued photo ID requirements for shipping." Curious why the US post office in the next shopping center over didn't ask for a photo ID, we dug into the rule.
Carrying your photo ID is a no-brainer if you take your wallet or purse when you run errands. But now with mobile payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay so commonplace -- Apple says 85% of US retailers accept its mobile payment platform -- it's easy to leave your ID and other cards behind. Here's what we learned and what you can expect when it comes to keeping your ID handy when you ship a package.
Why would I have to show my ID for FedEx shipping -- even when paying with cash?
Merchants asking for photo ID is common: It's not federal law, but it is a common practice tied to fraud prevention. They may ask if you're paying with a debit or credit card, because it's the best way to verify that you're the cardholder and reduces the risk of fraud.
Even though you may not have been asked for an ID in the past, you may notice a sign detailing the rule at select stores (we're not sure why that is). We reached out to FedEx for more information regarding the policy, but haven't received a response. We'll update if we hear back.
What counts as acceptable ID?
FedEx requires a government-issued ID to mail a package. Here's which forms of ID it will accept.
- Driver's license
- U.S. military ID
- Permanent resident card
If you don't carry any of these, you may be able to show other forms of ID, such as a Social Security card. Other forms of ID may not work, such as your work badge or a bank card. It's best to use one of FedEx's recommendations. If you have questions, call your local FedEx store before you go about acceptable IDs.
We also contacted FedEx to see how the company handles shipping a package on someone else's behalf with an ID. However, we haven't received a response yet.
Does UPS require a photo ID for shipping, too?
Yes, UPS requires ID, too. And the photo ID must match the person sending the shipment, so there's no way for someone to ship a package on your behalf. The one exception is if your package already has a prepared shipping label created through a UPS account -- you won't be required to show proof of ID. A UPS representative told CNET that it is a long-standing policy.
"The ID requirement is to simply verify the identity of the occasional shippers who use UPS retail shipping locations to process and present their shipments to us," the representative said.
The policy went into effect shortly after packages with explosives were reportedly sent via UPS, although no hazardous items were found.
Most of UPS' accepted ID options require a government-issued photo ID with the same name and address as the shipping label. But if the address does not match, you'll need to show proof of an updated address through a piece of mail or a bill.
What about the United States Postal Service?
The United States Postal Service requires an ID to send certified mail, Priority Mail Express, insured mail and other package services. You will likely be asked for an ID based on the list of services that require one.
Keep in mind that not all forms of ID are accepted for every USPS service. Here's a short list of which ID types are accepted:
- College ID
- Corporate or employee ID
- Driver's license
- Non-driver's ID card
- U.S. certificate of citizenship or permanent resident card
What if I don't have a photo ID or I forgot it at home?
It may feel like an old habit to carry a photo ID, but 1 in 10 citizens don't have valid identification to vote, which is usually a government-issued photo ID. The Atlantic's survey results also show that 9% of its respondents don't have an ID. Fortunately, FedEx may accept other forms. It's best to call your local FedEx store to see if your form of ID is acceptable before you go.
Studies over the years have found that as many as one in 10 citizens lacks the documentation needed to vote. Those who do are disproportionately Black, Hispanic, poor or over the age of 65. The Atlantic poll suggests that the gap remains: 9% of respondents said they lacked a government-issued ID, although a much smaller share (2%) said that was the reason they did not vote in 2020. Because the overwhelming majority of Americans do have IDs, "we don't realize there's this whole other side of the country that's facing this massive crisis," says Kat Calvin from the nonprofit Spread the Vote, which helps people obtain IDs.
Worst case, you have to go back home to get it. One convenient way to keep it handy is to store your ID on your phone. But keep in mind that this may not be acceptable in every case, especially if the retailer has to scan the back of your ID.
And if you don't have an acceptable photo ID, you may have to find another carrier that does not require proof to ship your package.
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