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Shipping Vinyl Records Safely

Two shoppers browsing through bins of vinyl records in a music shop.

Whether it’s the eye-catching artwork or simply the classic sound, demand for shipping vinyl records is high. Vinyl sales recently eclipsed those of CDs for the first time since the 1980s.

But wonderful as they are, vinyl records are easily damaged. A scuff here, a little warping there, and the LP record quickly suffers from crackling and worse.   

Follow this five-step approach for safely packing and shipping vinyl records to help preserve those fulsome sounds. 

1. Select Your Vinyl Record Mailer

The key to successful vinyl record shipping starts with finding the right box:

  • There are various types of LP mailers
  • While almost all are shaped like a pizza box, not all vinyl record mailers are the same.
  • Some offer inner bumpers that prevent the vinyl record from sliding about.
  • Others include custom flaps and creases for adjusting the vinyl shipping box to the precise size you need.

The truth is most mailers work fine, provided you properly protect the vinyl record. Speak with your local The UPS Store® location about finding the vinyl record shipping box for you.

2. Handle the Vinyl Record with Care

From storage through shipping, always handle the vinyl record with care.

Storage

When storing vinyl, don’t stack your LPs flat or even at an angle. The weight can lead to warping. Stand them upright instead.

Handling

Assuming the record isn’t factory sealed (see below if so), carefully remove it from the outer jacket and its inner sleeve.

Don’t touch the vinyl grooves directly. Instead, using both hands, hold the record between the center hole and the vinyl’s edge.

Inspection

Prior to shipping, inspect the vinyl under a strong light. Write down (and photograph) any defects, such as scratches and scuffs. Using a vinyl record brush, lightly clean the surface of dust.

Protection

Return the vinyl into the inner sleeve and place both together in a separate protective plastic covering. Add the record jacket into the same protective plastic.

If the plastic covering is sealable, make sure you don’t accidentally catch the inner sleeve or dust jacket on the adhesive. You want to keep that gorgeous artwork pristine.

Shipping

Keep the inner sleeve (containing the vinyl) and the record jacket separate inside the protective plastic covering.

If you return the inner sleeve into its jacket, the vinyl record may slide about in transit. This can result in damage to the record jacket, particularly its seams.

3. Pack the Contents Securely

When packing your shipping box, you’re looking for snug—no sliding about inside the box, but neither over-tight.

Add Stiffeners and Cushioning

Sandwich the plastic protective sleeve and its contents between a cardboard stiffener or foam board.

Next, apply bubble wrap (Kraft or foam paper will also work) to both sides of the protective sleeve and loosely attach with tape.

Don’t over-tighten the wrapping or the tape. This may lead to warping of the record, which can damage sound quality.

No Overstuffing

Be careful with the thickness of the bubble wrap or other padding. While padding is important and helps secure the media, you don’t want to over-pack the box.

To check for this, try closing the lid. Does it close snugly? If it’s too tight, reduce the thickness of the protective wrapping.

Over-tightness can lead to ring wear, where the imprint of the vinyl shows through on the cover.

Protect those Corners

To avoid damage, make sure the record jacket’s corners are adequately protected within the mailer.

Shipping Multiple Vinyl Records

For multiple vinyls and double gatefolds, repeat as above for each record. Then:

  • Sandwich each vinyl record (inside its protective plastic) between additional stiffeners.
  • Protect the back and front of the contents with cushioning material.
  • Use an expandable mailer box and adjust for the required depth. Score and fold the creases as needed.

Remember, you’re looking for snug. Don’t overstuff the box!

Factory Sealed Records

For factory sealed records, keep the vinyl record inside the dust jacket and leave the original seal intact.

Concentrate instead on securing the sealed product as snugly as possible within the box. Your goal remains to prevent the vinyl record from sliding about or bending.

4. Test Shake for Shipping

You’ve packed the vinyl shipping box, and all looks good. You’ve even remembered to include a handwritten note for that personal touch.

One last thing before sealing the box: shake it lightly in all directions. The contents should not move about.

  • If you can hear or feel the contents shifting, reopen the box and add just enough extra cushioning to properly secure what’s inside.
  • Now try lightly shaking the record mailer again. Did that do the trick?

Next, mark the package “Fragile / Do Not Bend” and securely affix your label. You’re ready to go!

5. Select Your Shipping Service

There are many service options for getting your vinyl records delivered safely.

Flat Shipping Rates

Shipping with UPS® Simple Rate is a great choice for eligible shipments within the United States. Simply calculate the cubic capacity of your vinyl shipping box and select from four shipping speeds—including UPS Next Day Air Saver® (when time is of the essence) and UPS® Ground.

Shipping Internationally

For international shipments, remember to complete the required customs documentation. The UPS online shipping wizard will help guide you through the forms.

Pickup or Dropoff

Schedule a pickup or drop off your package at one of many UPS Access Point® locations in your area. Track your shipment online as it heads to its destination.

Get Shipping Vinyl

Follow this five-step approach and protect your vinyl records against the bangs and bumps of transportation. Spread the joy of music and get shipping vinyl now.

Create a Shipment

 

Find Out More

  • Ready to Start a Shipment?

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  • Track Your Shipment

    Get updates on individual shipments, look up 25 shipments at a time, or sign up for notifications to track on the go.  

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  • The UPS Store

    Rely on The UPS Store® for all of your packing, shipping, printing, and small business needs.

    Learn More about The UPS Store
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