shipping records

Ship It: A Guide To Packaging Records For Shipping

New Order! So reads the email subject. You’ve landed your first order and now comes the real work of selling records: securely packaging it and mailing.

Until there’s a magical hole in which buyers can reach through the internet and grab their records from your crates, you’ll need to entrust the postal service when shipping records. Things get broken, bent in half and stuck in machines. So how do you protect your record from the abuse it’s about to take on its mystical journey? This is why packaging records for shipping is equal parts science and art. With a little effort, your customers will thank you and come back time and time again.

Here’s your guide to packaging records for shipping:

Packaging records for shipping: preparation is key

So suppose this fine fine record is sold to a very lucky buyer. The first thing you’re going to want to do is prep the record for shipping.

First, remove the record from it’s jacket:

Packaging records for shipping: remove the LP from the outer sleeve

That crumpled old sleeve might have been fine until it sold, but your customer will appreciate receiving their new record with a fresh, crisp sleeve. If the inner-sleeve is a custom printed inner-sleeve or original company inner-sleeve, consider keeping them inside the jacket with other fragile paper inserts, like lyrics sheets, while the disc is outside the jacket in a new sleeve.

Protective plastic sleeves are also a great finishing touch that will show your customer that you appreciate their purchase.

Packaging records for shipping: remove record from its sleeve

Pack the disc outside the jacket in the plastic sleeve. This will prevent seam-splits and help prevent the disc from getting scuffs by moving around during shipment.

Packaging records for shipping: pack record outside sleeve to prevent seam splits and scuffs

At this point, I recommend purchasing new folding-type cardboard mailers for packaging records for shipping. If you are considering using the UK style white envelope types, don’t. Even with stiffeners, in my experience they are frequently responsible for dinged corners and are generally too fragile for shipping records. The amount of headaches saved in the long term will be worth the extra investment.

Folding type cardboard mailers are perfect for packaging records for shipping

Generally, once a mailer is used it shouldn’t be re-used again. They are designed to withstand one mailing and may no longer be structurally sound enough to withstand the hardship of shipping another record. Recycling mailers not only makes you look cheap as a seller, but may expose the address of the last person to someone who shouldn’t need to know. Improvising mailers from recycled cardboard is generally frowned upon as well. We will not remove negative feedback if you ship a record in a used pizza box. I cannot stress this enough.

Don't use pizza boxes for packaging records for shipping. Just don't.

Avoid using recycled cardboard mailers when packaging records for shipping

Now that you’re ready to package your record, let’s take a look at stiffeners:

Cardboard and bubblewrap are great for packaging records for shipping

I have used both types in the past: Cardboard and bubblewrap with equal success. Whichever type you use, sandwich your record between two pieces. The goal is to immobilize your record in the center of the package to prevent it from rattling around in the box and possibly get damaged. I have also used dollar bin freebies to service as stiffeners with great success in the past, though this may not be economical for international orders.

Add a cardboard stiffener when packaging records for shipping

When using cardboard for packaging records for shipping, you can add added sturdiness by placing the stiffener against the grain of the cardboard mailer. Every bit counts.

shipping records: packaging of LP

Fold your box up and tape it shut. I recommend making multiple passes around the center and sealing up the sides as well.

Write Fragile on boxes when packaging records for shipping

Finally, write FRAGILE – VINYL RECORD – DO NOT BEND on both sides of the box. Have better handwriting than I do. After that all you have to do is slap an address on it and bring it to the post office. If it’s expensive, take a gamble and throw insurance on it. It’s generally less than $2 and will really save your hide in a jam.

You’re ready to ship records! Start buying and selling vinyl records in the Discogs Marketplace!

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  • May 11,2018 at 2:20 pm

    a major point in packaging is missing – the biggest problem to me is bumped corners.
    so these standard sizes are just bullshit, drop the mailer and there we have a tortured cover edge.
    no usual cardboard stiffer nor bubblewrap can avoid corner bumps if the mailer is NOT GIVEN
    if i use standard crap mailers like shown above, i always give the corners additional padding, lot
    of work but makes sense. cut some cardboard and add it with enough scotch tape to the corners.
    therefore very stiff.
    by far best mailers are the ones with overlapping cardboard on the edges, these are the only ones
    guarantee a safe delivery.

  • Mar 27,2018 at 3:22 am

    II do a combo of what they talk about and what I was taught from a long time discogs member. And yes I do take the record out if it is already open. I use SSE for my sleeves and shop ebay’s vender threerb for my mailers. Both give me good prices and great quality. I have only had one person have issues in over a year. Well I did have one guy let me know that his record got broken when his girlfriend got angry and ran over it deliberately. I’m not taking the rap for that packaging failure!

  • Nov 14,2017 at 11:08 pm

    Almost every record I receive packed outside of the album sleeve is screwed up. This is the worst advice and method I have heard. A record in the album does not move around more than if it was in the sleeve, on the contrary. Most records I have received this way, shipped in the inner sleeve outside of the cardstock album sleeve, have torn inner sleeves and/or chipped/cracked records. This practice is stupid and I will make sure to advise any seller I buy from to ship in the album provided and not to use the method in this article.

  • Oct 30,2017 at 11:10 pm

    VoodooElectronics : “Just seems to me that a disc left outside its cover is MORE vulnerable, not less, to outside shifting movements.”

    It is. Indeed. No Doubt. The jacket was designed to protect the record. I rarely ship a LP outside of the sleeve. Unless the buyer really won’t back down. I tell them the method I ship. If you pack tight, and wrap the LP jacket and album in something like kraft paper.. like a present, you get the tightest pack possible , light weight and stops all shifting. In 15 years not one complaint. Every LP i have received with the record OUTSIDE .. is always shifting around when I pick it up. It’s 30 seconds of extra effort..but worth it. Pack your items tight.

  • Oct 30,2017 at 11:05 pm

    Using recycled cardboard is ‘frowned’ upon? By whom? In 15 years of shipping worldwide
    I have never gotten one complaint. I sure don’t use Pizza boxes.
    Quality is guaranteed to those who look.

    I will give up my old source of free and extreme quality cardboard for shipping LP’s- – (for the first time online)…

    A certain cup box from Starbucks is one of the best ready made solutions they throw out in most cities.
    You can get 2 LP’s and 4 45’s (or CD’S) shipped from one box using the material from the box. Very little cutting is involved. I balk at the gouging high prices of ‘official mailers’ and many are too heavy for shipping 1 LP in Canada.. for example the excellent heavy weight mailers of one of the big mail order record outlets in California, will not work for postal price reasons here in Canada. I can’t add 3 inserts.. it will double the weight and price of product. Good for them, but not for everyone. The Starbucks box, for example I can collect 8 on a given day at most locations. If you don’t see their cardboard, ask one of the managers if they will part with some.
    Free cardboard is very common. It doesn’t have to be greasy beat up crap. And hell yeah I recycle old mailers. You should have basic respect to take the old labels off. One extra pass of tape solidifies these older mailers. Packing the LP tight inside the box is the key to the success.

  • Aug 7,2017 at 10:10 pm

    As of this post, you can ship album mailers up to 2lbs for $3.12, 3lbs for $3.89 – via media mail, with an online Stamps account.

    For the 2lbs you get this guys way of packaging !!PLUS!! a 18×16 cardboard sleeve. This extends the corners out 3 to 4 inches, 2 inches on the sides. With 12×12 cardboard platens you end up with triple boxing.

    Ideally you get account, comes with a free digital scale. If you don’t sell enough to have the $10 a month fee make sense, just get a scale, with the digital scale you can maximize the weight and get the most out of your postage.

    FREE – you can grab as much Priority postage packaging as you want, obviously you have to make the cardboard shell I mentioned above to hide the fact. The large boxes can be made into sleeves, and the Tyvek mailers are great for sleeving the album inside the record mailer box. These can be made tight to the jacket, and are ideal for sealed records, limiting record movement and reinforcing the spine and seams.

    I’ll have to look into creating an updated blog with images. It’s not rocket science, it’s consideration and common sense.

  • Oct 19,2016 at 9:10 pm

    On rare records I use aluminum plates for stiffeners.. 1.5 to need a sledgehammer to bend them :)

  • Oct 19,2016 at 9:04 pm

    I have been reinforcing the corners lately. Doesn’t cost anything and only takes about 5 minutes. I cut 4 cardboard strips about 3 inches long and the height of the mailer, usually less than an inch. Then I just tape them at the edges. To prevent crushing, I reuse air filled pouches that come from Amazon, particularly common in Prime Pantry. That makes the box crush proof. Only problem is they are a little too filled and have to be relieved of some air and resealed with tape to fit. Once you get a rhythm going it isn’t too bad.

  • Oct 4,2016 at 3:46 am

    I came with the same question voiced by Born_Free_Partners above — what is the logic behind packing the disc outside its own sleeve?

    I just had a buyer, first one in well over 100 shipments, complain about my packaging (apparently USPS had its way with the box somewhere enroute), claiming this is “standard practice” and referring me to this blog. I’m not sure I follow the thinking. He seemed to think it prevents the cover edges from being rammed by a shifting disc when the box is in motion. Doesn’t the fact that the mailer box is just barely bigger than the cover (as is the cover itself) prevent such motion from gathering inertia? Where would it get the space to move? What if you squeezed some foam in between the edges of the disc and the walls of the box — if there’s even room to do that (which I doubt)?

    Just seems to me that a disc left outside its cover is MORE vulnerable, not less, to outside shifting movements.

  • Mar 24,2016 at 12:14 pm

    “So suppose this fine fine record has sold to a very lucky buyer.” …

    Chromalox has the answer! Love that you used this gem as the example. The packaging tips are great too…. but Chromalox… Yeah!

  • Dec 27,2015 at 1:08 pm

    What is the best mailing service and insurance method for EP’s?

  • Sep 2,2015 at 8:59 pm

    And last time I checked these cannot be shipped via media mail. I keep getting people who think I can ship them an LP for $3.

  • Oct 15,2013 at 11:04 pm

    This is the most PATHETIC, AVERAGE & COMMON way of packaging our precious vinyl today.

    This method here works about 50% or less.

    and I tell you why: the mailer is of same size format as the records are & this means heavy (or at least notable) dings to the corners in 90% of the cases.

    the portion of the dings to the corners depending of the weight of the package (how many vinyls you pack inside).

    and do you think writing “Do Not Bend” gives you any guarantee????


    Sorry, but this is BELOW standard for any serious vinyl-worshipper, who loves to worship his perfect record sleeves.

    Wait, is this way of packaging promoted by the Discogs site themselves????

    oh boy…

  • Aug 14,2013 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks for this information. It is very useful. lawnman

  • Jul 20,2013 at 5:53 am

    FYI for all:

    These are the supplies I use consistently after a lot of trial and error over the years:


    Plastic Outer Sleeves :

    Inner sleeves:

    all good prices if you are on amazon prime.

  • Jul 20,2013 at 5:48 am

    concerning your suggestion to “Pack the disc outside the jacket in the plastic sleeve”

    what are the real merits of this again?

    I have never received an LP like this, and not sure if I should send records that way.

    Can you make a better argument for the practice? do you have any evidence or examples? willing to try it if it does actually work. :)

    Thank you.

  • Jul 10,2013 at 8:57 pm

    Great post. Do you have any suggestions on a reasonably-priced supplier for the mailers and other materials (inner sleeves, etc)?

  • Apr 10,2013 at 2:09 am

    Thanks for info! Especially when sending just one item, I usually wrap the vinyl into some pasteboard for more protection.

  • Mar 20,2013 at 3:21 pm

    Good advice, but I wonder how many sellers will go down the complete “checklist” above. Only a few in my own experience. Sometimes I use a second hand box when receiving large orders. But I only use the ones which still look good. Sometimes I use some extra tape around the sides.

    By the way: you can buy stickers which say “fragile” and I wrap the sleeves/records in newspaper to give them a little bit of extra protection in the box instead of using plastic protection sleeves.

    [quote]” It’s generally less than $2 and will really save your hide in a jam.”[/quote]

    Maybe it’s a good idea to delete this last part of the text. Some buyers otherwise might think that sellers charge to many shippingfees. Yes, they are out there that don’t get it that each country has its own shippingprices. ;)

  • Mar 18,2013 at 5:03 pm

    I absolutely hate the record sized mailers- seems like every time I get one there is a crushed corner. 2 flat pieces of cardboard, at least 13″ both ways, protects a lot better. I did get a box I haven’t seen before from Whiplash Merchandising Logistics WHP-LP-01, that is fantastic. It has a 1″ folded protector on 2 sides to completely protect from corner damage.

  • Mar 16,2013 at 1:20 am

    I disagree with Discogs on this – The cruciform mailers are not very good. Too many people use them for 1 or 2 records without using any stiffeners which can warp the vinyl as the flaps folded over on the outside of the cruciform are not 100% flat. I’ve always used hard card mailers with 2 hard stiffeners, the best I could find & sent vinyl all over the world & quite often I get commended on good packaging.

  • Mar 15,2013 at 5:12 pm

    Very good, except the bit about reusing a proper cruciform box–rubbish. They’re good for more than 1 go.

  • Mar 13,2013 at 9:31 am

    It’s worrying that sellers even consider using packaging that clearly isn’t adequate, I’ve just received a first pressing of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club from an eBay seller, arrived wrapped in a pieced of newspaper and then some brown packing paper. Arrived ruined! Brilliant album ruined by a stupid seller. Totally agree that all members should be sent this after recieving there first order.

  • Mar 13,2013 at 1:49 am

    I’ve wanted to try two pieces of 3mm MDF and duct tape for a while just to see what it would be like, super rigid.
    Perhaps even ply wood…

  • Mar 11,2013 at 2:20 pm

    +1 on using plastic grocery bags. Cheaper than bubble wrap, great way to recycle!

  • Mar 11,2013 at 10:58 am

    I ask sellers to minimize the mention that there are vinyl records inside the package, and to use excessive amounts of tape to secure the box. I’ve had the contents of a package stolen, receiving only an empty envelope. The USPS said it was my tough luck. I also now pay for insurance on all orders.

  • Mar 10,2013 at 10:05 am

    I strongly advise against the use of bubble wrap. Only use cardboard as protective layers. Bubble is not friendly to your record under pressure. Recycling mailers is fine as long as they’re still sturdy. It’s extremely unresponsible to to use a mailer only once unless it got wet or badly torn.

  • Mar 9,2013 at 12:41 am

    I always include a return address label on the package just incase the postal service is unable to deliver it, I’ve had a fair few packages returned to me over the years, that otherwise would have been lost for good.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 7:19 pm

    I use the album mailers from Bags Unlimited . They are very sturdy & i have never had any complaints about them. Insurance is a must just in case somebody swipes your stuff from your front porch. Very informative.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 7:09 pm

    Thank you! A must-read for sellers…
    I don’t mind recycling mailers, but it has to be done consciously, reinforcing sides and corners.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 3:24 pm

    Good advice!
    First bubble-wrap around the vinyl itself and then stiffener cardboard, and remember to make the stiffener a bit larger than the bubble wrap. And if you tape the “inner package” together makes it pretty safe to ship.

    As a side-note: I have ordered stuff from record companies and it’s really great to get an album wrapped with the cardbord that they got from the pressing plant, you know, stickers with matrix numbers and so on!
    It’s a really nice bonus that I cut out and put inside the cover with the corresponding records!

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:54 pm

    If using stiffeners within the package re-using mailers is almost common sense and certainly responsible in all regards.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:54 pm

    New records are sealed so shipping the record outside the sleeve does not make any sence… If i order a sealed copy, i want to receive a sealed copy….. Good boxes (like the ones HHV uses) can perfectly be re-used.. Recycling is better for environment..

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:38 pm

    yes, replacement innersleeves & outer plastic sleeves, instead of bubble wrap & use double plastic grocery bags (works great, breakage rate is one in about 3000!)keeps it under a pound also.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:38 pm

    All very sound advice. I am pleased to say that almost all sellers that I deal with have already taken it on board. Ru-using parts of outer packaging as stiffners, against the grain of the outer is very feasible and I see no problem with that. You can remove any labels that identify its previous use.
    The single most importsnt thing, however, is to remove the LP from its outer cover and place it outside and alongside in a suitable sleeve.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:36 pm

    I completely agree on those envelope-type mailers; they are horrible. However, I do think that some of the mailers can be reused. There just needs to be some common sense. There are some places from which I get vinyl that have fantastic boxes and packaging jobs, and their mailers are easy to reuse and are still strong. Others use junk, and these go in the recycling bin.

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:27 pm

    That should be sent to all users as some of the deliveries i received over the years have been either badly packaged or cheaply done,maybe it may educate some for future sales

  • Mar 8,2013 at 2:15 pm


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