Shipping Vinyl Records

Shipping Vinyl Records - Steps

shipping vinyl records

When shipping vinyl records, it is essential to package them carefully to prevent damage during transit. Proper packaging can minimize the risk of the record busting through the jacket, as well as protect it from other potential damages such as warping, corner dings, and seam splits. Here is a step-by-step guide to packaging vinyl records for shipping, including the use of poly bags and the avoidance of shrink wrap.

  1. Remove the vinyl record from the jacket: Start by taking the vinyl record out of its outer jacket. This will minimize the risk of it busting through the jacket during shipping, as well as protect the jacket from seam splits and corner dings.

  2. Place the record in a poly bag: A poly bag, also known as a plastic outer sleeve, is a protective covering that can help shield the record from dust, dirt, and moisture. Slide the printed record jacket into that poly bag. Then slide the vinyl record, still in its inner sleeve, into the poly bag. This will provide an additional layer of protection without adding significant weight to the package.

  3. Use a record mailer: A record mailer is a sturdy cardboard container specifically designed for shipping vinyl records. These mailers often have adjustable height settings to accommodate different thicknesses of records and provide additional padding for better protection. Place the jacket and the poly-bagged record side by side in the record mailer, with the spine of the jacket facing outward. This arrangement will help prevent the record from busting through the jacket and provide extra protection for the jacket's edges and corners.

  4. Add padding: To ensure that the vinyl record and jacket are held securely in place, add some padding around them inside the record mailer. Bubble wrap, foam sheets, or crumpled kraft paper are suitable options for padding. Ensure the padding is evenly distributed, taking extra care to protect the corners and edges of the jacket.

  5. Seal the mailer: Close the record mailer and seal it securely using strong packing tape. Be sure to seal all seams and edges to prevent any potential water damage during transit.

  6. Label the package: Clearly label the package with the recipient's address and any necessary shipping information. It is also a good idea to mark the package as "Fragile" or "Handle with Care" to ensure that it is treated gently during shipping.

  7. Avoid shrink wrap: Shrink wrap prevents the easy removal of the vinyl record from its jacket, and although it is intended to hold the record securely within the jacket, the record may still break through the jacket during shipping. Moreover, shrink wrap can cause vinyl records to warp or result in jacket damage due to the pressure and heat applied during the wrapping process. To avoid any potential damage, it is advisable not to use shrink wrap when shipping vinyl records.

By following these steps, you can minimize the risk of vinyl records busting through their jackets during shipping and ensure that they arrive at their destination in the best possible condition.

What are vinyl record poly bags?

A record poly bag, also known as a plastic outer sleeve or vinyl record sleeve, is a protective covering designed specifically for vinyl records. It serves as a barrier against dust, dirt, fingerprints, and moisture, helping to preserve the record's condition and prolong its lifespan.

Made from high-quality, clear, and durable plastic or polyethylene materials, record poly bags are designed to be lightweight yet sturdy. They come in various thicknesses, with a typical range of 2 to 5 mils, to provide different levels of protection. A thicker bag will generally offer better protection against potential damage, but it may also be more rigid and slightly heavier.

A standard record poly bag measures approximately 12.75 x 12.75 inches, fitting snugly around a 12-inch vinyl record in its jacket. Some poly bags feature a resealable adhesive strip or a flap for secure closure, while others are open-ended, allowing for easy insertion and removal of the vinyl record and its jacket. The bags are designed to be transparent, enabling collectors and enthusiasts to view the album artwork and information without removing the record from its protective sleeve.

When using a record poly bag, it is essential to ensure that the bag is free of dust or debris before placing the vinyl record and jacket inside, as any particles trapped inside the bag may scratch or damage the record's surface over time.

What is a vinyl record cardboard mailer?

A vinyl record cardboard mailer, also known as a record mailer or LP mailer, is a specially designed shipping container made to protect vinyl records and their jackets during transit. These mailers are constructed from high-quality, sturdy cardboard to provide a robust and durable barrier against potential damage from impacts, pressure, and other shipping-related hazards.

Vinyl record cardboard mailers typically come in two common styles:

  1. Cruciform or 'X' style mailers: These mailers consist of a single piece of cardboard that is scored and folded into a cruciform or 'X' shape. The record is placed in the center, and the flaps are folded over to create a protective sandwich. This design provides additional corner protection and can accommodate different record thicknesses without needing size adjustments.

  2. Book-style or LP mailers: These mailers resemble a book or box and have two parts – a top and a bottom. The vinyl record is placed in the bottom part, and the top part is placed over it to create a snug fit. Some book-style mailers have adjustable height settings or multiple score lines, allowing them to accommodate various record thicknesses or multiple records in a single mailer.

Cardboard mailers often have additional features that enhance their protective capabilities:

  • Buffer zones or "crush zones": These are additional folds or layers of cardboard surrounding the edges and corners of the mailer to absorb impacts and protect the contents from damage.
  • Tuck-in flaps or self-seal adhesive strips: These help secure the mailer's closure without the need for tape, although it is still recommended to use packing tape for added security.
  • Double-wall construction: Some high-quality mailers have double-wall cardboard construction, providing extra rigidity and protection against impacts and punctures.

A standard vinyl record cardboard mailer measures approximately 13 x 13 inches, slightly larger than a 12-inch vinyl record and its jacket, leaving room for padding materials and ensuring a snug fit without causing damage to the contents.

Shipping records using USPS, UPS, or FedEx

When shipping records using USPS, UPS, or FedEx, it is crucial to be aware of several factors to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of your vinyl records. Here are some essential aspects to consider:

  1. Packaging guidelines: Each carrier has its packaging guidelines, which you should follow to minimize the risk of damage during transit. These guidelines typically include information on selecting the right packaging materials, proper cushioning, and securely sealing the package. Adhering to these guidelines can also help in case you need to file a claim for damages.

  2. Shipping rates and options: Different carriers offer various shipping rates and options based on factors like package weight, dimensions, destination, and delivery time. Compare the rates and services offered by USPS, UPS, and FedEx to determine the most cost-effective and reliable option for your specific needs.

  3. Insurance and declared value: Consider purchasing insurance or declaring the value of your shipment, especially if the records are valuable or irreplaceable. Each carrier has its insurance options and declared value limits, so review their policies to make an informed decision.

  4. Tracking and delivery confirmation: Most carriers provide tracking and delivery confirmation services, allowing you to monitor your shipment's progress and confirm its delivery. Make sure to obtain the tracking number and share it with the recipient for added peace of mind.

  5. Fragile and special handling services: When shipping vinyl records, request fragile or special handling services if available. These services can help ensure that your package is treated with extra care throughout the shipping process. Additionally, clearly label the package with "Fragile" or "Handle with Care" to alert handlers to the delicate nature of the contents.

  6. International shipping: If you are shipping records internationally, be aware of customs regulations, import duties, taxes, and any other fees associated with shipping to the destination country. Ensure that you complete all necessary customs forms and documentation accurately to avoid delays or issues during transit.

  7. Return policies and procedures: Familiarize yourself with the carriers' return policies and procedures in case the package is undeliverable or needs to be returned to you. This information will help you navigate the return process more smoothly if needed.

By considering these factors and following the carriers' guidelines, you can help ensure that your vinyl records are shipped safely and efficiently using USPS, UPS, or FedEx.

USPS Media Mail for Vinyl Record Shipping

USPS Media Mail is a cost-effective shipping service specifically designed for sending educational media and other media materials, including vinyl records, within the United States. It offers a more affordable option for shipping records compared to other USPS services, such as Priority Mail or First-Class Mail.

Media Mail is an excellent choice for shipping vinyl records due to its lower cost, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Slower delivery times: Media Mail generally takes longer to deliver compared to other USPS services. The estimated delivery time for Media Mail packages is between 2 to 10 business days, depending on the destination. If you require faster delivery, you may want to consider other shipping options.

  2. Eligibility restrictions: Media Mail is intended for specific types of media and educational materials, such as books, CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records. However, certain items like video games, magazines, or promotional materials are not eligible for Media Mail. Ensure that your vinyl record shipment meets the USPS eligibility requirements before using this service.

  3. Package inspections: USPS reserves the right to inspect Media Mail packages to ensure that the contents meet the service's eligibility criteria. This inspection may involve opening the package, so it is crucial to package your vinyl records securely and follow the USPS packaging guidelines.

  4. Insurance: Media Mail packages include limited insurance coverage for loss or damage up to a certain value. If your vinyl records are particularly valuable or irreplaceable, you may want to consider purchasing additional insurance or using a shipping service that offers higher coverage limits.

  5. Additional services: You can add extra services like Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, or USPS Tracking to your Media Mail shipment for an additional fee. These services can provide peace of mind and added security when shipping valuable vinyl records.


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