You’ve shopped around, searched websites and stores, and now you’ve finally found that perfect gift for the out-of-town music lover in your life: a vinyl record from their favorite artist! You know they’ll love the music, but the hard part is how to send it to them.
Many balk at the task of shipping vinyl records because of all the ways they can get damaged in the mail such as dents, warps, bends, tears, scratches, and cracks. So how do you keep your records safe so they arrive in pristine condition? Follow our simple guide for how to ship vinyl records, and they’re sure to have a pleasant trip to the doorstep of your favorite music lover.
USE PLASTIC SLEEVES
Whether you’re shipping a vintage vinyl record, a used one that’s already seen some wear and tear, or even one that’s brand new, a protective plastic sleeve is a must. Not only do plastic sleeves give the record a bit of sophistication, they’re great for protecting the album jacket from getting scratched or scuffed around while in transit. Protective plastic is especially important if the vinyl was purchased from someone selling records previously uncared for or if it is particularly old.
When records arrive at their destination, the sleeve is still great for preventing dirt, dust, oils, and other particles from getting into the record jacket. Also, if you purchased a new vinyl still in the shrink wrap, fight the urge to remove the vinyl from the packaging and listen to it before sending.
We recommend using Bags Unlimited’s LP Record Poly Sleeves - they even come in fun colors!
BOX IT IN A CARDBOARD VINYL RECORD MAILER
If you are going to pack vinyl records, there might be a temptation to use an old record box from a shipment you may have received previously, to repurpose a shipping box from another delivery you’ve gotten, or worse to use an old pizza box. Don’t risk damaging your record shipment! Since you want to make sure your records are safe, we recommend using a new cardboard mailer specifically designed for shipping vinyl records.
Reusing an old box runs the risk that it isn’t as strong as it once was after its first shipment, and there is a higher chance of tears or breaks in the cardboard if shipped again (especially if you’re shipping multiple vinyl records).
Cardboard vinyl mailers often come flattened out, with designated folds on each side to go around the record and create the edges of the box. The thickness of the cardboard you’d like to use is up to you. Some LP mailers are double-walled, meaning there are two layers of cardboard on each side, which gives extra structure to the box; however, those tend to be more expensive.
As long as the cardboard isn’t flimsy and the sides are rigid when folded around the record, you’re good to go. There are also varieties of mailers ideal for shipping double-LPs, 180-gram records, and more, as those packages can vary in width.
ADD A PROTECTIVE INSERT
An insert, either cardboard or bubble wrap (or both), adds a layer of protection between the box and the vinyl record, ensuring it doesn’t suffer any scratches or dings while in transit. Simply sandwich the vinyl in between two inserts. If you’re shipping multiple vinyl records, consider a bubble wrap or cardboard insert between each record.
FOLD AND TAPE THE BOX
Once you’ve put the records and inserts in place, it’s time to fold the edges of the mailer over to create the box. Make sure each of the edges is at a right angle, and give the box a little shake to make sure the vinyl isn’t rattling around.
Next, tape it securely with packing tape. Go around the box a couple of times with the tape, making sure the sides are sealed as well. When it comes to record shipping, the more tape the better.
MARK THE BOX “FRAGILE” AND ADD SHIPPING LABEL
We recommend writing “FRAGILE - DO NOT BEND” in Sharpie or permanent marker on both sides of the mailer once it’s sealed. That gives the post office or shipping company a heads up that your record shipping needs to be handled with care. If you’ve printed your shipping label at home, slap that on the side of the shipping box, and it’s ready for transit.
BRING TO THE POST OFFICE OR OTHER SHIPMENT SERVICE
Once you’ve got your vinyl record all packaged up, it’s ready to be sent to its lucky receiver. If you’re shipping several records, a rare record, or to someone outside of the United States, you can add insurance to the package to cover it in case of loss, theft, or damage.
We recommend personally taking it to the post office or other shipping company location and not leaving the shipping box outside your residence or office for a pickup, as heat, cold, or rainy weather may damage the record before it’s even on its way to the recipient.
SHIP VINYL RECORDS MONTHLY
If you really want to surprise the music lover in your life with more than just one record shipment, consider giving them the gift of a Magnolia Record Club membership, and let us take care of the shipping! You can gift them with a 3, 6, or 12 month vinyl subscription, and shipping is free. And If you’re looking to upgrade your record player, speakers, or give them or any accessories as a gift, check out some of our favorite recommendations.Other than just how to ship vinyl, check out our tips on how to take care of vinyl records, how to clean vinyl records, and our recommended series for ideas on vinyl to share with those you love!