Creating a UPS Shipping Calculator

Creating a UPS Shipping Calculator
This tutorial will teach you how to calculate the shipping cost based on the weight, height, length and depth of the box, the distance and the UPS service type. A sample form will be created that will post information to a UPS page. The PHP script will then retrieve and display the shipping cost.

Pretty much every website that implements a shopping cart with online payment and checkout of products to be shipped, needs to have a shipping calculator. Depending on the company or companies that you choose to ship the products with, you’ll need to read the documentation of their web service. One popular choice is UPS, and because the documentation on implementing their shipping calculator is scarce, that’s the one we’re going to code in this tutorial.

First you may want to sign up with It’s not really needed for the implementation we’re doing in this tutorial, however if you’ll want to go more advanced, you’ll need a developer key and an access key, and at the end of this tutorial there’s more information on that.

Let’s start with creating the form. In your real application you’re probably going to fill your own package size and weight depending on the products ordered. But here we’ll be entering these details through the form.

<form action="UPSShip.php" method="post">
Address Type:
<select name="selResidential">
   <option value="01">Residential</option>
   <option value="02">Commercial</option>
<br />
<select name="selPackaging">
   <option value="00">Customer Packaging</option>
   <option value="01">UPS Letter Envelope</option>
   <option value="03">UPS Tube</option>
   <option value="21">UPS Express Box</option>
   <option value="24">UPS Worldwide 25KG Box</option>
   <option value="25">UPS Worldwide 10KG Box</option>
<br />
Service Type:
<select name="selService">
   <option value="1DM">Next Day Air Early AM</option>
   <option value="1DA">Next Day Air</option>
   <option value="1DP">Next Day Air Saver</option>
   <option value="2DM">2nd Day Air AM</option>
   <option value="2DA">2nd Day Air</option>
   <option value="3DS">3 Day Select</option>
   <option value="GND">Ground</option>
   <option value="STD">Canada Standard</option>
   <option value="XPR">Worldwide Express</option>
   <option value="XDM">Worldwide Express Plus</option>
   <option value="XPD">Worldwide Expedited</option>
   <option value="WXS">Worldwide Saver</option>
<br />
<select name="selRate">
   <option value="Regular+Daily+Pickup">Daily Pickup service</option>
   <option value="OP_WEB">Oncall Air Pickup Web (arrange on the web for UPS to pick up my packages)</option>
   <option value="OP_PHONE">Oncall Air Pickup Phone (arrange by phone for UPS to pick up my packages)</option>
   <option value="One+Time+Pickup">One Time Pickup</option>
   <option value="Letter+Center">Drop-box Letter Center</option>
   <option value="Customer+Counter">Customer Counter</option>
<br />
Package Weight: <input type="text" name="txtPackWeight" value="1" /> pounds
<br />
Package Length: <input type="text" name="txtPackLength" value="5" /> inches
<br />
Package Width: <input type="text" name="txtPackWidth" value="5" /> inches
<br />
Package Height: <input type="text" name="txtPackHeight" value="5" /> inches
<br />
From Zip: <input type="text" name="txtFromZip" value="98052" />
<br />
From City: <input type="text" name="txtFromCity" value="Redmond" />
<br />
From Country: <input type="text" name="txtFromCountry" value="US" />
<br />
To Zip: <input type="text" name="txtToZip" value="94043" />
<br />
To City: <input type="text" name="txtToCity" value="Mountain View" />
<br />
To Country: <input type="text" name="txtToCountry" value="US" />
<br />
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />

As you can see, there are some specific codes that specify the service type, rate and package. You should check the UPS Online Tools Developer’s Guide for a complete list on these.

Now that we got the HTML part ready, let’s do the PHP. The following PHP code should be placed above the HTML form, in the same file (UPSShip.php.)

   $Url = join("&", array("",

   $Resp = fopen($Url, "r");
      $Result = fgets($Resp, 500);
      $Result = explode("%", $Result);
      $Err = substr($Result[0], -1);

         case 3:
         $ResCode = $Result[8];
         case 4:
         $ResCode = $Result[8];
         case 5:
         $ResCode = $Result[1];
         case 6:
         $ResCode = $Result[1];
      $ResCode = "An error occured.";
   echo $ResCode;

All that we’re doing is to pass the values of the form fields to an URL at That page will then return the shipping cost, or a message such as “The requested service is invalid from the selected origin.”

Getting a Developer’s Key and an Access Key from UPS

There are more options provided by UPS not only in calculating the shipping cost, but also in buying and printing the shipping label. More information on those services is available at the UPS site; it’s likely that you’ll be needing a Developer’s Key and an Access Key for that. To get one is as simple as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6. Or is it?

It’s actually not that easy to obtain the access key, you have to go through a number of forms.

First you need to register with My UPS:
Then you need to sign up for UPS OnLine Tools by entering more information about you and your company, including your account number (you got this in an email from UPS when you signed up.)
You know you’re signed up with UPS OnLine Tools when you get this message “Thank you for joining the growing community of UPS OnLine® Tool end users. Upon your agreement to the developer’s license, a Developer’s Key has been issued and will be e-mailed shortly to the address you provided during registration. Please continue by selecting one of the UPS OnLine Tools listed below.”
Then you get emailed a download key, followed by an access key. “An Access Key provides exactly that — access to UPS systems, which hold the information you or your customers need to ship, track, or rate a package. Your Developer’s Key lets you get UPS OnLine Tool documentation; the Access Key lets you actually implement UPS OnLine® Tools.”
In order to get the access key, you need to go through one more form, which should be already filled with your current account information. Finally you should receive your Access Key in an email, and in the confirmation message:


You now have access to the following UPS OnLine® Tools:

UPS Rates & Service Selection HTML, Version 1.0
UPS Tracking HTML, Version 3.0

Nathan Pakovskie is an esteemed senior developer and educator in the tech community, best known for his contributions to With a passion for coding and a knack for simplifying complex tech concepts, Nathan has authored several popular tutorials on C# programming, ranging from basic operations to advanced coding techniques. His articles, often characterized by clarity and precision, serve as invaluable resources for both novice and experienced programmers. Beyond his technical expertise, Nathan is an advocate for continuous learning and enjoys exploring emerging technologies in AI and software development. When he’s not coding or writing, Nathan engages in mentoring upcoming developers, emphasizing the importance of both technical skills and creative problem-solving in the ever-evolving world of technology. Specialties: C# Programming, Technical Writing, Software Development, AI Technologies, Educational Outreach

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