In a world of email and fast response most people don't often use the post office to send messages anymore. However, until someone invents a teleportation system (!) the only way to get your physical goods from point A to point B, still requires you to mail them.
Preparing a fragile item for courier delivery requires a little bit attention to detail. It is your responsibility as the sender to assure that the item is packed correctly and will not break at any point during its trip. You must also make sure that the item is packed correctly so that it will not damage other people's parcels, or become a hazard to the mail workers. For this reason it is important you take adequate care when prepping a package for the mail.
Here’s a helpful list of hints and tips for you to get started.
Things To Know Before You Send:
Different couriers have different rules regarding the proper packing of items and materials. Because the item has usually been packed prior to making the arrangements to send, it is mandatory that the sender be aware of the courier rules regarding mailing of materials.
The first thing to do before you send anything check online to make sure that the item is not prohibited by regulations.
A parcel that is being sent internationally must also carry a Customs Declaration with it. Depending on what exactly you are sending you may also need other documentation and authorization from the post. If you aren't sure, double check with your local service online. It is important that you make sure that you are not in violation of any of the international shipping rules.
Packing General Items
- Ensure that the item is packed in a box and cushioned by bubble wrap so that you cannot feel the shape of the item through the box.
- Two or more items that are packed together should be separated by wrap and protected from bumping into one another.
- Heavy items may require extra cushioning to prevent them from moving around during delivery and damaging the box
- Most re-enforced cardboard boxes are strong enough to handle items of average size or weight so using this is usually a good idea.
- If your item is heavy it should be packed in a wooden crate.
Packing In A Wooden Crate
When packing an item for shipping it is essential that you choose a container that is strong enough to hold that item.
Below, we've included a chart showing the approximate weights certain wooden crate shipping containers can hold:
Weight = Grade of Container
Average load High density load*
Up to 5kg 111B 212C
5kg-10kg 212B or 212C 313B
10kg-15kg 313B 313C
15kg-20kg 313C or 623B 2112CB (double wall)
* Refers to any item that is above 250kg per cubic meter. Example: car parts
For lighter to medium weight items you can purchase or recycle cardboard boxes that are standardized for varying weights. These can usually be found in small, medium, heavy, large, or heavy-duty.
Heavy duty is usually double walled for additional protection.
Sealing Your Package
The best way to seal your package is with packing tape that is at least 38mm wide. It is a good idea to use tape that is specifically designed for packing rather that household tape which isn't as durable.
Place the tape along the boxes edges and seal the opens. Do not use staples.
Larger and heavier packages should be bound with plastic strapping as well as tape. This strapping should be applied at each end of the box. Make sure that the binding is tight. It will help to re-enforce the box while the package is in transit. Make sure that if you are sending multiple packages that they are prepared separately not together.
There are special regulations for sending Bicycles:
-Remove the pedals; handle bars, and front wheel. Then pack each of the parts in a box that can hold the approximate weight of the bike. If you aren't sure what size of box you require, try recycling on from a local bike shop.
Car Parts and Auto Hardware
There are special regulations for sending automobile parts:
- Remove (clean off) all grease, oil, batteries, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze and fuel before packing.
-Protect the surfaces by wrapping each part in plastic or bubble wrap this will help to prevent it from scratching.
-Oddly shaped parts should be packed so that no protruding edges are able to puncture the shipping container.
-All car parts and auto hardware should be packed in double walled cardboard or a wooden crate for safety reasons.
-Pack the shipping container well, so that the object will not move about in transit.
- Wrap each fragile item individually with enough material packed in so that the objects shape is not recognizable.
- Fragile items that are being shipped together in one container should be individually packaged and wrapped
-Pack each item in a box or container that is appropriate for its weight
-Fill all spacing gaps and secure each item to limit movement in transit.
- Make sure that you pack electrical equipment in a strong cardboard container.
- Keep the parts away from the sides of the box so that the electrical equipment is protected from any impact
- Computer parts, must also be packed in a non static packaging
- Batteries must be removed for the electrical device before it is sent so that it does not activate accidentally during delivery.
- Keep in mind that some batteries are considered too dangerous even when deactivated to send via the post.
Long & Thin Items
There are special regulations for sending items that are long or thin in the mail, follow these instructions:
-Place the item flat between two long strong pieces of wood or double walled cardboard. Make sure that the wood or cardboard is slightly longer then the width of the item being sent.
- Wrap securely with tape
- To make sure that the parcel does not exceed the max length and dimension for your postal service contact your courier company or local post office.
- Liquid items that can be sent by mail include: body lotions, wines, beers, and other beverages (must be less than 70% alcohol).
- Wrap each bottle separately
- Surround each wrapped bottle with a resilient cushion material (bubble wrap) and place into a plastic bag.
-Pack into a strong cardboard carton with enough absorbent material to soak up the moisture if the item was to spill or leak.
-The only live organisms that can be sent by the postal service are: Live leeches, silkworms, and harmless insects. They must be sealed in a protective container that allows the organisms to be visible and to receive oxygen.
Your postal service may have specific rules for sending living organisms so it’s a good idea to contact them before-hand. Some countries allow Bees to be sent via the post, however, again, it’s a good idea to know if you can before you attempt to do so.
Other Information About Packing Items
Other items such as millinery hats, musical instruments, pictures that are in frames, powders, and sharp objects also require special packing and preparing methods. Before you send any of these items check with your postal service for more information.
Remember, sending restricted or prohibited items by the mail is a felony. Make sure that you follow the proper instructions for packing different materials in order to protect your self from liability.
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