What are thermal shipping labels?

In the world of shipping, anything you can do to save yourself and your customers money is considered a win. With the advancement of technology and, more importantly, the accessibility to small business owners, you now have access to one of the most cost effective options-thermal shipping labels!

Thermal shipping labels are both an economical and efficient way of printing your own labels.

What are thermal shipping labels?

Thermal shipping labels are labels conveniently printed by you, in your home, with no mess or hassle. Using thermal technology, the printer selectively heats the thermal paper. This causes the paper to turn black, creating the image of your barcodes and proper markings needed for shipping. Find out which thermal printers are compatible with ShippingEasy.

Why use thermal shipping labels?

Thermal shipping labels are an incredibly economical and efficient way of printing your shipping labels. Thermal shipping labels are generally cheaper than using an ink jet or laser shipping labels. Learn how to combine orders on ShippingEasy to save even more money.

The main reason is because of the lack of ink-one of the most costly parts of shipping and printing. The more you print, the more ink you need. With thermal shipping labels, all you need is your thermal label printer and thermal paper. Print labels with even greater ease when you combine your thermal printer with ShippingEasy's custom printing tool ConnectEasy.

Additionally, if you need different tones or colors there are thermal label printers and thermal paper that print in two or more tones (usually reds and browns) by using different temperatures.

Direct thermal or Thermal transfer?

Lastly, there are two types of thermal label printers: Direct thermal and Thermal transfer. There are many small differences, but there are two main distinctions.

Direct thermal has lower costs and is a more “budget” alternative. It doesn’t require much more than the printer and the thermal paper. Direct thermal is:

  • Limited to black.
  • Has a limited shelf life (about one year). 
  • Can degrade in fluctuating temperatures or in sunlight.

Thermal transfer is a superior choice if quality is the name of the game. Thermal transfer uses a carbon ribbon that imprints itself onto the thermal paper. Thermal transfer allows for:

  • More dense images
  • Easily scannable label images
  • Last longer than one year


Thermal shipping labels are a great way to save money, time, and have tighter control of your label shipping needs. If you find yourself constantly in need of more labels, this may be the right printing choice for you!


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