|Make sure you:
- Use a rigid box with flaps intact
- Remove any labels, Hazardous Materials indicators, and other shipment markings that are no longer applicable from the box
- Wrap items separately
- Use adequate cushioning material
- Use strong tape designed for shipping
- Do not use string or paper over-wrap
- Use a single address label that has clear, complete delivery and return addresses
- Place a duplicate address label inside the box
1. Use a corrugated box
Use a new or almost new corrugated box. The more a box is used, the more it loses its original protective qualities and may not adequately protect your shipment. If you must reuse a box, make sure it is rigid and in excellent condition with no punctures, tears, rips, or corner damage, and that all flaps are intact. Shoeboxes, gift boxes, or other paperboard boxes are not recommended. Remove old address labels, Hazardous Materials indicators such as diamond labels and markings, and delivery markings and bar codes from the previous shipment. After years of testing and analysis, engineers at the Customer Solutions Package Lab have developed Box Strength Guidelines for single-package distribution. Weight limits printed on the Box Maker's Certificate (found on the bottom flaps of most boxes) are intended for palletized freight shipments, not for shipments through small parcel carrier environments. Following the UPS Box Strength Guidelines will help ensure your package is of adequate strength to provide sufficient protection.
2. Provide internal protection
It is important to provide adequate cushioning for package contents. Wrap each item separately. Fragile articles* need suitable separation from each other and from the corners, sides, top, and bottom of the box. Each item should be surrounded by at least two inches (5.08 cm) of cushioning and be placed at least two inches (5.08 cm) away from the walls of the box. This will prevent product-against-product damage and protect the contents from shock and vibration, which can pass from the outside of the box to the contents. Proper cushioning material, combined with a strong outer container, will protect your shipment. Use enough cushioning material to ensure that the contents cannot move when you shake the box. The following materials can be used for cushioning and protection:
Air-encapsulated plastic (bubble sheeting)
- Designed to protect and cushion lightweight items
- Use multiple wraps/layers to ensure product is completely protected, especially corners and edges
Inflatable packaging (air bags)
- Used primarily as void-fill material for lightweight items
- Can be preformed to provide proper cushioning performance for specific products
- Extreme hot or cold temperatures may affect the ability to provide adequate product protection
- Not recommended for items with sharp corners or edges
- Used primarily as void-fill material for lightweight items
- Overfill the box with loose fill, then gently close the flaps and seal
- Due to the shifting and settling properties of peanuts, it is recommended that a minimum of two inches (5.08 cm) of cushioning be used around the contents
- Not recommended for use with flat, narrow, or dense products that may migrate to the edge or bottom of the carton during transit
- It is recommended that flat pieces of corrugated fiberboard be used to help prevent content migration through the peanuts.
- Loose fill materials like Expanded Polystyrene Peanuts can cause static electricity and may damage electronic items. Anti-static peanuts should be used for electronic items. Use plastic bags, bubble sheeting, or other items to wrap the item so peanuts will not work themselves into areas that may cause harm to your merchandise.
Engineered foam enclosures
- Preformed for specific products for proper cushioning performance
- Materials may include expanded polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, or copolymers
- A foam, sprayed into the box or mixed in packets, that expands and forms a protective mold around contents
- Provides good cushioning when foam is evenly distributed around the contents
- Select appropriate density of foam to meet packaging needs, which can range from void-fill application to high-performance cushioning.
- Laminates together to form blocks or pads, which are useful for blocking and bracing items inside the box
- Die-cuts, slits, or scores to form trays, partitions, or liners to increase package strength, improve performance, or separate items from each other within the package
- Not recommended for fragile items
Paper cushioning or multilayered paper padding (not newspaper or newsprint)
- Excellent for void fill
- Ideal for wrapping medium-to-large-sized, non-fragile items and those that may require moisture absorption
Kraft paper (not newspaper or newsprint)
- Used primarily as a void-fill material for light-to-medium-weight, non-fragile items and items that are suitable for such packing materials
- To enhance performance, it is recommended that the paper be tightly crumpled
- Use at least four inches (10.16 cm) of paper around and between the contents
- Ensure that there is at least two inches (5.08 cm) of packing on all six sides of the box
- Clothing, blankets, towels, newspaper/newsprint, and pillows are not proper cushioning materials
3. Close it securely
Proper closure is just as important as adequate cushioning.
To close a box securely, apply three strips of tape to both the top and bottom of the box, so the middle and two edge seams are sealed. Use a strong tape such as the types described below:
Pressure-sensitive plastic tape
- Use a tape at least two inches (5.08 cm) or more in width
- Generally, the easiest, most convenient tape to use. It is versatile because it will adhere without water and can stick to a variety of surfaces and shapes.
- Use 60-pound grade tape at least three inches (7.62 cm) wide
- Reinforced fibers in the tape provide additional strength, making it less susceptible to splitting or tearing.
Caution: Adhesion to the container may be affected by elements such as high humidity, wetness of tape, or dust.
Do not use masking, cellophane, duct, or water-activated paper tapes; also, do not use string or paper over-wrap.
4. Use proper labeling
For timely and accurate delivery, keep these points in mind when labeling your package.
- Always include the receiver's ZIP Code™ with the complete address. For international shipments, include a contact name, telephone number, and postal code.
- Make every effort to obtain a street address. If you do use a P.O. Box address, the recipient´s telephone number must be included on the label. A package addressed to a P.O. Box may experience delays and will not be covered by any UPS Service Guarantee. An Address Correction charge also will apply. Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses are not accepted by UPS.
- Include the suite, apartment, or unit number, if applicable. Failure to do so may subject the shipper to an Address Correction charge.
- Place the shipping label on the top of the box. To avoid confusion, place only one address label on the box. If using a packing slip, place it on the same surface of the box as the address label.
- Do not place the label on a seam, edge, closure, or on top of sealing tape.
Remove or cross out old labels or markings.
- Always include your complete return address, including full street address and ZIP Code. For international shipments, include a contact name, telephone number, and postal code.
- Place a duplicate label or other form of address information inside the package
Note: If using a mailing tube, place the label horizontally, with the sides of the label pointing toward the ends of the tube, so the bar code can be scanned. If labeling an irregularly shaped item, make sure the label is placed on a flat surface to allow for scanning.
Note: UPS does not provide special handling for packages with "Fragile," package orientation (for example, "UP" arrows or "This End Up" markings), or any other similar such markings.
*Fragile objects -- such as electronics, glass, ceramics, and artwork -- may require special packaging for safe shipment; these packages may require added cushioning or a double box. For assistance with packing fragile objects, contact the Customer Solutions Package Lab.