Ship It: A Guide To Shipping Vinyl Records


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

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.

Steps to Ship Vinyl Records:

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.

Remove Vinyl from the 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 custom printed or an 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.

Packaging records for shipping: remove record from its sleeve

Use a Protective Sleeve

Packaging records for shipping: pack record outside sleeve to prevent seam splits and scuffs
Protective plastic sleeves are also a great finishing touch that will show your customer that you appreciate their purchase.

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. If there is more than one disc, you can place one on top and one on bottom of the album cover with both inside the plastic sleeve.

Place in a New Cardboard Record Mailer

Folding type cardboard mailers are perfect for packaging records for shipping

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 number of headaches saved in the long term will be worth the extra investment.

record mailer from discogs

We have these nifty reinforced cardboard shipping boxes with protective air cells in the Discogs Shop. Granted, they are more expensive than mailers that are not reinforced but are an extra precaution that should be considered for expensive records or international orders. You can also find box liners, sharpies, fragile stickers and other goodies in the Discogs merch shop.

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.

Insert A Package Stiffiner

I have used both cardboard and bubble wrap with equal success. Whichever type you use, sandwich the 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.

Cardboard and bubblewrap are great for packaging records for shipping

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.

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.

Fold and Tape the Record Mailer

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 and Place Shipping Label

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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43 Comments
  • Sep 12,2019 at 19:10

    Reusing a good sturdy mailer makes sense as long as it can do the job. The best way I make use of them is to refold them inside out. The box can look brand new as if never used. If during the refolding process the box breaks down then it becomes a filler for protection. Also another good idea I use for protecting corners of a rare record is to use corner guard protectors that are typically used to protect picture frames during shipping.

  • Jun 14,2019 at 03:10

    I just ran across this and thought I’d add my 2 cents worth. I use the cruciform mailers from threerb on eBay; buy a hundred and they cost 23.3 cents each. I use 3/16″ bubble wrap; two layers per side in each direction (wrap two layers, turn the LP 90 degrees, wrap two more layers) This gives you 4 layers of bubble top and bottom and helps overlap the corners. This fits tight in the mailer, so seams are safe. A 700 foot roll costs about $29.00. I never remove the LP unless asked, which is rare. Of course, if the value is in the hundreds of dollars I will augment the packaging depending on how far it’s going. Of the hundreds of LPs I have mailed only one arrived damaged. The buyer sent me a photo; it was obvious from the tire track on the box that it had been run over by a forklift (no tread on the tire); we were both reimbursed. I have never once received a complaint about my packing, so it must work. If corners were being dinged, seams were being split or any other damage was being inflicted I’m sure I would have heard of it. My eBay feedback includes a number of compliments on my packing, and a few “complaints” that I pack TOO well. Occasionally I will use empty sleeves for extra stiffening but for the most part I ship as described previously. I do not reuse mailers; I think it looks cheap and at 23 cents each I don’t think it’s worthwhile. I will use them as padding occasionally. My method is a little time consuming but better safe than sorry.

  • May 28,2019 at 13:57

    I see no one really addressing how loosely packed record boxes can cause just as much damage as a dropped package. If you’ve just taped up your sale and you can feel anything moving around inside, open it up and try again. Add another sheet of cardboard, bubble wrap, cheap record, whatever. Sandwich them tightly in there and tape all the flaps as snug as you can. I don’t care if you pack in or outside the sleeve, if it’s moving around, something’s getting cut by the edge of the record.

    And fercrissakes put some effort and care into your packaging! I am fed up with experienced sellers shipping me a $50+ order with very little protection and in a value or recycled mailer. If you are too cheap to buy better mailers (as I am), at least put some damn effort into making it secure and protective. Double box it if you have to! And buyers, call out these lazy sellers. Give them negative feedback!

  • Mar 4,2019 at 08:43

    this is what happens when sellers DON’T remove the record from the sleeve … Seam-Split!

    http://i66.tinypic.com/34f1j44.jpg

  • Dec 17,2018 at 22:45

    You’d be stupid or naïve, to think that USPS Priority mailing supplies are FREE. If you steal Priority packaging you are just hurting and causing everyone else higher shipping rates so you can save a few buck out of YOUR wallet. I’ve been an eBay seller with 2 stores for about 15 yrs and every time shipping prices go up, sales go down. Very short sighted!

  • May 11,2018 at 14:20

    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
    ADDITONAL CARE ON THE EDGES.
    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 03:22

    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 23:08

    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 23:10

    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 23:05

    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 22:10

    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 Stamps.com 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 21:10

    On rare records I use aluminum plates for stiffeners.. 1.5 to 2.mm.. need a sledgehammer to bend them :)

  • Oct 19,2016 at 21:04

    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 03:46

    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

    “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 13:08

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

  • Sep 2,2015 at 20:59

    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 23:04

    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????

    THIS IS PATHETIC!!!!!

    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 19:41

    Thanks for this information. It is very useful. lawnman

  • Jul 20,2013 at 05:53

    FYI for all:

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

    Mailers: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0034PU6Y8

    Plastic Outer Sleeves :http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RA7IZS

    Inner sleeves: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001E8D2MU

    all good prices if you are on amazon prime.

  • Jul 20,2013 at 05:48

    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 20:57

    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 02:09

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

  • Mar 20,2013 at 15:21

    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 17:03

    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 01:20

    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 17:12

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

  • Mar 13,2013 at 09:31

    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 01:49

    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 14:20

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

  • Mar 11,2013 at 10:58

    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

    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 00:41

    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 19:19

    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 19:09

    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 15:24

    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 14:54

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

  • Mar 8,2013 at 14:54

    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 14:38

    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 14:38

    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 14:36

    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 14:27

    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 14:15

    GREAT!!

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