Shipping vinyl records can be a confusing process. Records are valuable and delicate, and you want to make sure they reach their destination in one piece.
With so many factors to think about, from protecting your vinyl to the cost of shipping, it can be hard to know where to start.
Luckily, this guide has got you covered! Here we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about how to ship vinyl records.
We’ll cover what to package your records in and how to do it, the best delivery options available, and how much it costs to ship your vinyl records.
So whether you’re moving house and want to transport your collection, sending some records to a friend or customer, or shipping vinyl for another reason.
This is the article for you. So read on as we take you through the best guide to shipping vinyl records!
What’s The Best Shipping Material?
Before you can even think about shipping your vinyl, you first need to wrap it. This can be tricky for a couple of reasons.
First, records are wide and flat, which means they won’t fit into typical shipping cases and boxes. Plus, records are pretty delicate and you want to avoid them getting damaged in transit.
Vinyl can easily snap, shatter, or warp if it’s not properly protected while it’s being shipped.
The grooves of the record can also be damaged, either through scratching or some other form of damage. In order to keep your vinyl records safe, you need to find the right sort of shipping material.
There are several things you can wrap your vinyl in to protect them.
Bubble wrap is probably the most common shipping material for records and is incredibly useful for keeping them safe from harm.
The records themselves are placed in their sleeves, then wrapped in layers of bubble wrap. Alternatively, the vinyl can be placed in a case with a sheet of bubble wrap between each record.
You may also see records packaged with foam sheets, but these aren’t as effective at protecting the records. Foam doesn’t provide much protection against impact, and is thicker and heavier than bubble wrap.
This increases the shipping cost and reduces the number of records you can fit in one package. That said, foam sheets are still an effective shipping material that is great at protecting vinyl records.
Paper is a great shipping material if you’re on a budget. Newspapers, in particular, are cheap and offer decent protection against impacts and pressure.
Fill the gaps in your case or box with crumpled up or shredded newspaper, and add a few sheets in between each record for some additional padding.
Packing peanuts are also a great material for filling in the gaps in your package with some cushioning protection.
In terms of the package itself, you will need to find something that will keep all of your records together while keeping the size and weight of the package to a minimum. As mentioned before, larger vinyl records won’t fit in most standard sizes of parcels, so you might have to get creative.
You shouldn’t have a hard time finding an appropriate package for singles, and individual singles can even be sent in a well-padded envelope.
Larger LPs and EPs will need at least 13″ in height and width, so finding an appropriately-sized box can be tricky.
Avoid too much excess space, as this can skyrocket shipping costs. If you’re only shipping a handful of records, you can get specialized record shipping boxes that will fit 1-4 12″ records per box!
You can also ship your vinyl in a record case if you have one. Just bear in mind that these are often very heavy in and of themselves.
So, you may be looking at a hefty shipping cost. That’s not even mentioning the extra bulk added by the padding you’ll need.
How To Wrap And Package Your Vinyl Records For Shipping
With your shipping material and package sorted, now it’s time to actually pack up your records. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to properly package your vinyl.
1. Prepare The Vinyl
Start out by putting your vinyl in its sleeve.
If there is an inner sleeve, make sure you include that too. This is a sheet of blended polyethylene and paper, which helps protect the vinyl from dust and scratches.
For obvious reasons, this will be invaluable while your records are being shipped.
2. Wrap The Vinyl In The Shipping Material
Next, wrap up the records in the shipping material of your choice. As mentioned before, you can wrap each record sleeve in sheets of bubble wrap or newspaper, or simply place some sheets between each record.
You can also use both of these materials to pad out any gaps left in the box or case.
Foam sheets protect the record by absorbing shock and vibration. Place the records between two sheets, or even in a slot in a single piece of foam.
Again, these are bulkier so you’re better off using them only if you’re shipping a couple of particularly valuable records.
If you’re using packing peanuts or shredded newspaper to fill in any gaps, you should also use some other form of padding between each record.
Regardless, these materials will need to be added after putting your records in the package.
3. Put The Records In The Parcel
Now you need to pack your records into the container. For a record case, this is simple – just put the records into their normal slots.
This may be a bit trickier with the additional padding, but you want the records to be snug and secure. You’ll be better off using a thinner type of padding here, so avoid thicker cushions like foam sheets or bulky bubble wrap.
If you’re putting the vinyl in a box, make sure they are all facing a single direction and are flat against each other.
Any awkward angles or unaligned sleeves are at risk of damage, either from hitting into each other or against the walls of the box. Keep the records flat and consistent, with a decent amount of padding between the records.
For specialized record parcels, you won’t have too much trouble. It might be difficult to fit 4 records in if you’re using a good amount of padding, but it should be easy to pack at least 2 or 3.
An added bonus of these parcels is that they often sell in bulk, which makes them ideal for transporting small-to-medium record collections.
4. Fill In The Gaps
Here’s probably the most important step for protecting your vinyl. Gaps in the packaging will let your records move around, which is an easy way to let them get damaged.
Filling in these gaps will keep the records secure and in place, preventing the risk of damage.
Use packing peanuts, shredded paper, or crumpled-up balls of paper or bubble wrap to fill out holes and gaps in the packaging.
Take extra care to fill in gaps between the records themselves, as these can do a lot of damage to themselves and each other if they are able to move around.
Avoid packing the holes too tightly, however. While you want everything to be snug and secure, there should still be a slight bit of give to protect the records from impact.
Having some slight movement will actually cushion the records more than a completely rigid case, so make sure the records aren’t packed too tightly.
5. Add Shipping Labels
Finally, you need to add the shipping labels. These can vary depending on which shipping service you’re using.
But typically contain information such as the delivery address, returns address, specifications like the weight and dimensions of the parcel, and information about its contents.
Apply them in a clearly visible position, or the one instructed by the shipping service.
Shipping Your Vinyl Records Through The USPS
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the biggest shipping service in the USA. As a result, it’s one of the more common services used to ship vinyl records. Here’s how you can ship your records through the USPS.
There are plenty of shipping options to choose from with the USPS, suitable for every budget and need you may have.
The best option for shipping vinyl records is Media Mail, which is ideal for shipping small parcels containing educational and media material.
Priority Mail is also a good option, especially if you’re only shipping a few records and want to do so quickly and safely (for instance, if you’re selling some records or sending them to a friend).
Shipping records through Media Mail is cheap, convenient, and simple. While you’re limited in how heavy your package can be (a maximum of 70lbs), there are plenty of bonuses that make it a great choice.
For starters, it’s a budget-friendly option starting at $2.80 for 1lb. Additionally, you can choose to track your parcel, and all Media Mail packages can be insured to an amount of your choice.
Shipping records through Media Mail means you’ll have to follow a couple of steps beforehand.
First, you should leave the package unsealed when you bring it to the post office. This is because the parcel will need to be checked before you can ship it.
Make sure all the shipping information (addresses, parcel dimensions, etc.) is already on the package to keep things quick and simple.
Once your records have been inspected, you can seal up the parcel and get ready to pay the shipping costs. After that, you can request the tracking number to keep an eye on your package.
Priority Mail is a much faster alternative for shipping your records. You’ll pay more than Media Mail (prices start at $7.50), but your package will be delivered within 1-3 working days (as opposed to 2-8 days for Media Mail).
This means that your records will be shipped much sooner as long as you don’t mind paying the extra price. Priority Mail includes $50 included insurance.
Free package pickup, and tracking information to help you keep an eye on your records.
Using Priority Mail to ship your records is easy. Just take the packaged and labeled records to your local post office, ask to send them through Priority Mail.
And the package will be weighed and measured. Pay the shipping costs, and your records are good to go!
If you’d rather not use the USPS, you can always opt for another shipping service. Some other popular choices include FedEx and UPS.
However, these services usually cost more than the USPS, and they won’t provide any additional benefits over Media Mail.
Shipping Your Vinyl Records Through The UPS
The United Parcel Service (UPS) is a major shipping company in the US. It offers many types of services, including ground, air, express, and international delivery.
If you’re looking to ship your records through the UPS, you’ll first need to select the type of shipment you want.
Ground shipments are the cheapest option available, costing just $5.95 per pound. They typically arrive in 3-10 business days after leaving the warehouse.
Ground shipments are ideal for records due to their speed and convenience. Air shipments are slightly more expensive than ground delivery but still cheaper than some other shipping methods.
They are better for long-distance deliveries that are more time-and cost-effective than having the records be driven.
International delivery is by far the most expensive option (with additional customs costs and other charges) and is trickier to do due to the challenges brought up by international shipping such as customs restrictions and greater distances to travel.
It also takes much longer to ship internationally, often taking several weeks depending on the location you’re shipping to. That said, this is still one of the best options for shipping your records internationally.
While UPS is more expensive than most other shipping companies, it’s also one of the fastest options out there. If you’re willing to spend extra for the improved delivery time, then using the UPS is your best bet.
To send your vinyl records through the UPS, you need to follow similar steps to the ones for shipping with the USPS. Prepare your records for shipping, choose the delivery option that’s right for you, and take the package to the local post office.
However, a lot more steps are involved online. While the process may seem a bit confusing at first, it streamlines and reduces the amount of checks and information required at the post office itself.
Shipping Your Vinyl Records Through FedEx
While FedEx is usually a more expensive option than even the UPS, it’s actually cheaper to send smaller items through FedEx than with the UPS’ fixed minimum rate.
This makes it a good alternative for sending small numbers of records, especially when you consider the speed and tracking it offers.
FedEx’s overnight shipping is particularly effective, delivering your records quickly and efficiently. FedEx also offers insurance on all deliveries, which makes it ideal for shipping valuable records without having to worry about damage or loss.
To ship records with FedEx, you’ll first need to go to the FedEx website. Here you can choose your shipment options and fill out all the information regarding your package ahead of time.
Alternatively, you can bring the package to a FedEx store, where you’ll be able to arrange your delivery in-branch.
Something to bear in mind is that larger packages won’t be as cost-effective, and you’ll likely end up spending more than you would with UPS if you’re shipping an entire case of records.
That said, if you’re only shipping a few records, FedEx is definitely worth considering.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship Vinyl Records?
Shipping costs can vary dramatically depending on the service you’re using, the shipping option you select, and the number of records you’re shipping.
Most postal services don’t just consider weight when calculating costs, but also the dimensions of your package as well. This makes it hard to estimate how much it will cost to ship your records.
As mentioned before, the cheapest option is probably USPS’ Media Mail. This budget-friendly delivery option is great for shipping any amount of records, as long as you stay below the 70lbs limit.
For example, a parcel of 1lb would start at only $2.80, while a 20lbs package would only cost $13. This makes it the most cost-effective option by far.
Smaller records like singles will cost much less to ship. Because of their small size and reduced weight, you’ll spend barely anything compared to the price of heavy 12″ records.
You can also get away with less padding, as the smaller discs are less prone to snapping or shattering due to their size.
So now you know everything you need to know about shipping vinyl records, from how to package them to the best delivery options for each shipping service.
While transporting valuable and delicate items such as records can be worrying at first, as long as you follow the right steps when you ship them you’ll have no issues getting your vinyl records where they need to go!
No matter what your reason is for shipping vinyl records, you can count on the information in this guide to help you out. All that’s left for you to do now is to get to work packing up your vinyl. Good luck!