Vinyl records (or LP for short) are coming back in style with more people buying record players or dusting off old ones in the basement. The nostalgia is worth it. If you are selling, moving, or shipping records, take special care of your records. So if you want to know how to ship vinyl records, you’ve come to the right place.
When shipping your vinyl, there are many things to consider: purchasing packing materials, packing your vinyl safely, and choosing a shipping method. Guarantee that your vinyl ends up safely at its destination by filling your vinyl well.
Steps to Take to Ship Non-Factory Sealed Vinyl Records Safely
No matter your reasons for shipping vinyl records, you need to take specific precautions when unpacking them from their jacket sleeve into boxes. Be careful because one scratch can take away from the record’s quality.
Vinyl is fragile and has a lot of surface area. You want to protect the entire record from scratches and breaks by packing it securely. Here are some simple steps to take to ship non-factory sealed vinyl records safely:
- Remove vinyl from the jacket sleeve. Scrutinize your vinyl. When you finish inspecting, return the vinyl to the inner sleeve for protection.
- Put your vinyl and jacket in a protective plastic sleeve. If you have a protective plastic sleeve, add another layer of protection. Place your protective plastic sleeve package inside a corrugated cardboard record mailer or large envelope.
- Add stiffeners or a bubble wrap enclosure. You may need to build your cushioning solutions with foam sheets, little pieces of cardboard, or extra bubble wrap to cushion any potential fall or shock the package might go through in shipping.
- Choose a shipping method. Top national shipping carriers are FedEx, United States Postal Service or USPS, or UPS. If these are rare and valuable, consider getting them insured. Write fragile on the box, and make sure you track your package.
Special considerations are necessary if you are shipping multiple records. If you are sending factory-sealed records, which are probably valuable, do not break the seal when you are shipping. Get insurance and pack tightly and carefully.
Here’s a quick video that goes into some of the above steps:
How to Ship Vinyl Records (A Detailed Step-By-Step)
Consider this. You pack your vinyl records in a corrugated cardboard box but forget to put extra padding or some cardboard inserts between your vinyl. When they reach your destination, they are chipped, scratched, or broken.
Packing them safely and carefully can alleviate some of this stress during the shipping process. Adding a few extra layers of protection will go a long way when packing your vinyl records.
Remove the Vinyl from the Jacket Sleeve
Remove the vinyl from the jacket sleeve to have complete control of both the jacket and the vinyl. If the vinyl is still in the jacket in shipping, it can get scratched or chipped easier than if the jacket and record are not separated.
While packing the vinyl, make sure you are not touching the lines or putting it on any rough surfaces. Plan out a clean working space laid out for yourself while you are working on packing the vinyl.
Inspect Your Vinyl Carefully
If you sell your vinyl, make sure you inspect it before sending it off in a shipping envelope. Make a note of any imperfections before shipping so that you can let the buyer know or refute any claim that there is a scratch before purchasing.
Here are some critical steps to consider if you inspect your vinyl for selling. Here are some essential steps to consider.
- Place your Vinyl under a bright lamp. You will be able to see any imperfections clearly under a light.
- Turn it around. The more you inspect it, the more detailed your notes can be. Make sure to look around all of the edges. Turn it upside down and look at the back of the record.
- Write down any imperfections or take pictures with your flash to have a visual record of any defects.
By scrutinizing your vinyl before shipping, you note any scratches or damage. Even if you are moving your records to a new place, knowing what records you have, and their condition will help you.
Return Vinyl to Inner Sleeve for Protection
If your record has an inner sleeve, if you still have an inner sleeve, place your vinyl inside the inner sleeve for some extra protection. This inner sleeve is generally made out of lightweight paper, which will not scratch the record if it is in motion.
Place Vinyl in Protective Plastic Sleeve
Place the record on top of the jacket. If you have some tissue paper to separate the sides of the jacket from the vinyl, place them in between your record and jacket as an extra layer of protection
Place your record and jacket inside a protective plastic sleeve. If you do not have a protective plastic sleeve, wrapping bubble wrap around everything will do. Whichever you use, make sure all of the openings are secured with tape.
Using a protective plastic sleeve creates another barrier between the record and the sturdy envelope or corrugated cardboard packaging that you will use. Putting as much protection as you can between the vinyl and other objects will only help.
Place in Corrugated Cardboard Record Mailer or Sturdy Large Envelope
Some mailers have more features than others, depending on their price range. For this reason, some have inner cardboard stiffeners and are easy to assemble, while others have custom flaps and creases. Here are some of the most popular:
- Mighty Music Mailers– these square mailers have corner padding and self-adhesive strips. They are corrugated cardboard and have extra cardboard layers around the vinyl record’s edges.
- CLP Bubble Bukwrap– Excellent corner protection, and you can ship multiple records in one mailer.
- Whiplash (Standard) mailer– These mailers have rolled out corners and cardboard stiffeners attached to the box and bubble wrap. They are expensive, and you will need extra stiffeners and bubble wrap/foam additions to ship them.
- Record mailers from the UPS store– They are cardboard mailers that meet all of your needs. The UPS Store also sells extra bubble wrap, cardboard stiffeners, and foam inserts.
Sturdy envelopes can have multiple layers of cardboard or just one thin layer. If your record can easily bend when inside the package, you will need to add some stiffeners or extra cushioning.
Add Cardboard Stiffeners and Cushioning
If you choose a mailer that does not have much cardboard padding or premade stiffening, you can make your own or add some to make your mailer extra secure. Add bubble wrap or foam pieces to both sides of the plastic sleeve and apply tape.
A foam board or a cardboard stiffener can add some padding. A cardboard stiffener is simply a flat piece of cardboard that can provide extra protection between your vinyl and the package.
Your goal is to create as little wiggle room as possible. Any movement inside the box can cause damage. You will want to make it as secure as possible. Check and make sure the package closes before shipping.
Here is a video on homemade record mailers:
There is a packing method called sandwiching that is simple and effective. The sandwiching process is the easiest way to pack your records tightly and securely in whatever packaging you choose. Here are the steps
- Take two solid cardboard pieces and flatten them out- When your record is still outside the packaging, grab two flat corrugated cardboard pieces. Make sure these pieces are not wider than your records. They need to fit into your packaging.
- Sandwich your record in between the two pieces of cardboard– Put one side of your record against one piece of cardboard. Now put the other side of your record against another piece of cardboard.
- Slide the “sandwich” into your package– Carefully slide this sandwich into your packaging and add any extra padding necessary. Do not add too much, or it will cause your record to warp.
- Secure the package– Tape the folds, check the corners of the packaging, and tape any of the loose sides of the packaging
The sandwiching method is the best way to keep your record packaging sturdy and flat. If you have any space between your record and packing, you might cause the LP to move around and possibly get damaged.
Check out this video for details:
Protect the Corners
The corners of any package can get destroyed if bumped around in transit. Protecting the corners of the inside and the outside of your parcel will help prevent this from happening.
You can tape the corners to help the box stay tightly packed on the outside of your packages. Taping the corners will also help keep the corners from getting smashed in transit.
Inside the package, before you pack the whole record, you can put bumpers on the edges of the box. Make sure these bumpers cover the entire, a little peace of mind edge from corner to corner. That way, the corners are covered.
If These are Rare and Valuable, Consider Getting Them Insured
When you are shipping your valuable vinyl records is a good thing. No one wants to have a damaged record, but insurance can give you a little value protection.
If you are sending a valuable or a rare LP, consider getting them insured. Doing this will protect you from damage, but it will also give you a little theft protection. There are several ways you can ensure your packages.
- United States Postal Service– Through USPS, you can ensure your package up to $5,000.
- Use a company like Easyship– You can purchase $5,000 of insurance for your shipment.
- UPS also provides shipping insurance– At no extra cost, UPS insures your package for up to $100. You can declare up to $50,000 per package, but you have to enter this declared value on UPS.com. You will be charged a fee for this.
- FedEx package insurance– FedEx’s maximum declared value of a package is $2,000, and additional fees are added.
If you think you need some shipping insurance, you probably should. Think about the value of the objects you are shipping and selling them or just moving them yourself.
Choose Shipping Method
There are several shipping methods you can choose from depending on what you are comfortable with or have used before. The most common shipping methods are through the United States Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS.
USPS is the general US Postal Service, while FedEx and UPS handle packages and other materials traveling daily. Here is more information about each with the benefits of using each method.
- USPS- the United States Postal Service locations are located in neighborhoods across all US cities. This option is the most cost-effective but could prove to be a little more damaging. Make sure you pack and label your package nicely for the mail carriers.
- FedEx- FedEx provides overnight shipping, package insurance, package pickup and drop off, and printing online shipping labels. Most Walgreens also accept FedEx shipments if a FedEx store is not near you.
- UPS- UPS is another excellent option if you are shipping fragile items. UPS stores are located in major cities and towns. You can ship overnight, to drop-off locations, and you can purchase package insurance. UPS tends to take good care of their packages in transit. You can also ship directly to a UPS store’s address to hold for someone.
Write Fragile and Attach Shipping Label
On the outside of the package, write “Fragile: Vinyl Record.” That way, the mail carrier knows to treat it with care. This does not completely guarantee that your record will get there safely, but this will help.
Attach your shipping label to your package near the “Fragile” tag so that the mail carriers see both the label and the “fragile” writing. Doing this might help the mail carrier be more inclined to treat the package with a bit of extra care.
Track Your Order
If you go through USPS, FedEx, or UPS, there are several different options to track your shipment.
- USPS- When you go through USPS, you can verify your package by filling out a tracking shipment form located at the front of the post office. When you pay for your package, they will give you a tracking number set up in the system almost immediately.
- FedEx- For FedEx, you can sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager quickly and for free. You are already paying a little extra by going through FedEx, so be sure to track your package.
- UPS- For UPS, you can use an order number to track your shipments, sign up for My Choice so you can track your shipments online, or sign your business up for UPS My Choice for Business. With My Choice, you can get multiple delivery updates and reroute your packages if they go to the wrong place.
Whichever service you choose, make sure you get a tracking number either on your receipt or through your email.
Special Considerations When Purchasing Vinyl Mailers
Think about how much padding it has if you have a type of mailer in mind but do not know if it will fully protect your vinyl. Also, consider what extra supplies you might need to pack your vinyl.
What should you look for when purchasing an LP mailer? Here are some special considerations and questions to ask when you are looking for these mailers:
- Does the mailer have built-in cardboard bumpers? These bumpers can be the protection that your vinyl needs to protect it from a mishandled package or another shipment bumping the sides.
- Can I fit more than one record inside of the mailer? If you separate each vinyl by some bubble wrap, cardboard pieces, or padding, and if your mailer is large enough, you can pack more than one into a mailer.
- How much corner or edge protection will my box have? The most damage that the package will get is corner damage. If you do not purchase a corner protection package, make sure you make your bumpers inside the box.
- How many layers of cardboard does the mailer have? Look and feel the package. If it is thick, there is probably more than one cardboard layer. You can always put more cardboard pieces of your own to protect your vinyl.
Mailers come with different layers of protection. It is up to you how much you want to spend on custom vinyl pockets. You might want to add the extra padding to the mailer yourself. Either way, make sure your mailer is well protected.
What if I am Shipping Multiple Vinyl Records
If you are shipping multiple vinyl records, consider sending them all in one box. If they are going to one location, especially take a look at the options you have to ship one package instead of several.
The more records you have in the box, the more sandwiching you must do and the more padding you will need. All considerations are the same when thinking about the package’s corners, extra padding, and materials.
What if I have a Factory Sealed Vinyl Record
If you have a factory-sealed vinyl record, you can skip the step in this process about removing the record from the sleeve. If it is still factory sealed, it is probably more valuable. Just make sure you have a plan.
How Much Does Shipping Vinyl Records Cost?
The cost of shipping vinyl records starts at $2.63 through USPS Media Mail. However, you’ll find that prices can be much higher depending on what you need:
If you use specialized shipping companies like FedEx or UPS, you’ll find your costs going up. You’ll also need to pay for packing materials, the weight of the package, and whether the package requires special handling instructions (fragile).
Costs can go