If you’re in the market to ship some vinyl records using Media Mail, then this article is for you. Maybe you sell vinyl records and are looking to save on shipping, or maybe you’re trying to send a friend a vinyl record as a gift. As someone who frequently ships and receives vinyl records here is some information I wish I knew before my first experience.
Hopefully, you will find this helpful and that it may answer any of your questions before you head to the post office to ship your vinyl with media mail.
Are vinyl records media mail? Vinyl Records are considered sound recordings. According to the USPS , sound recordings, including vinyl records, can be shipped using Media Mail with their included incidental announcements of recordings and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such recordings.
The questions that remain unanswered are whether Media Mail is the best option and how do we recommend packaging your records properly. We want you to be confident in your choice whether you choose media mail or not. So we have included some USPS links to help you understand their classification on vinyl records.
How USPS Classifies Vinyl Records
According to USPS Domestic Mail Manual 173.4.1.e “Records, Phonograph Records” are classified as “sound recordings eligible”. On the USPS website, they allow sound recordings to be shipped using Media Mail with their included incidental announcements of recordings and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such recordings.
There are however some restrictions to sending your records, and some tips, that you should be aware of before going to the post office.
- Your Media Mail package is subject to inspection. This is to make sure that you are not shipping items not included on the list of approved items eligible for the Media Mail shipping rates. Depending on your post office and the clerk you go to, they may or may not inspect your package. We have had this happen both ways several times. So to be safe do not seal your package until they have inspected it or be sure to bring some packing tape.
- You can not include anything with the media items outside of your packing slip or receipts and the record’s standard contents. That, unfortunately, means you can not write a thank you note to your customer or include a card inside the gift box unless you write it on the packing slip.
- Maximum weight of 70lbs. This means no shipping of your whole collection in one box! You can send them separately in multiple boxes all using Media Mail, though.
- Media Mail packages must have a delivery address and the sender’s return address. If your package is inspected after shipping is accepted and it is determined you owe more postage, the post office may send your package back to the sender to collect additional postage.
Why Ship Your Records Using USPS Media Mail?
We like sending vinyl records using Media Mail because you get a great deal on shipping rates and some awesome free add-ons that you just have to ask for at the clerk’s desk. How does $2.80 for 1lb sound? What if we told you it even comes with a tracking number? Well, with Media Mail that is the case. There are several pros and cons of using media mail for shipping vinyl records.
Pros and Cons of Shipping Your Vinyl Records Using Media Mail
|Reduced shipping rates||Slow – Typical delivery is between 2-8 days|
|Free tracking number||Package inspections|
|Already insured||No additional advertising allowed in your box|
|Variety of packaging options||Low priority|
|You can not upgrade the speed of shipping|
Current Media Mail Shipping Rates*
|Weight Not Over (lbs)||Cost||Weight Not Over (lbs)||Cost|
Given that vinyl records range in weight depending on the size, number of LPs, jacket, and press weight you could budget around 8oz per single LP.
We usually come prepared and budget for 1 pound per LP, although they rarely hit this rate, that way we can consider the rest additional savings. With the lowered shipping rates you are going to see some nice savings!
Steps For Using Media Mail With Your Records
- Be sure to leave your packaged vinyl record or records unsealed and bring your packing tape.
- Bring your properly packaged vinyl record to the post office unsealed.
- Be sure to already have your addresses written on your package. This is really just to keep things quick for the postal worker.
- Let them know that you plan to use Media Mail so they can inspect the contents. Depending on the post office and clerk they may skip this step and just ask you to seal the box.
- Once they have inspected the contents of your package they will ask you to seal your package.
- It’s important to ask for a tracking number at this point. Currently, according to USPS.com, all media mail is eligible for a free tracking number. All you have to do is ask for the tracking number.
Best Vinyl Record Packaging for Media Mail
There are tons of options for packaging your vinyl records to ship using media mail. This makes this shipping method very appealing as a lot of other methods, such as flat rate, require a certain sized and shaped package.
Some people prefer using the USPS Priority Box #2DPCON-13-B-0008 which measures 12.25 X 2.875 X 13.375 inches when put together. However, if you leave the box flat instead of folding it into a box the record is reported to fit. We do not recommend this if possible as you may have to turn the box inside out, since it is a priority box, and label it as fragile for media mail. If you do not label this as fragile, there is a big chance that the records will be damaged or at a minimum, the jackets and sleeves will be damaged.
We prefer that you purchase some vinyl specific boxes such as these found here on Amazon. This will allow for optimal protection for the record, the jacket, and the sleeves. This may not be feasible if you plan on only sending one album to a friend but if you are a trader or seller you can not skimp here.
If you just want to send one album in a standard box, you can get some spare cardboard and cut two pieces to size 13 x 13 inches and sandwich the album inside. Securely tape the pieces of cardboard together and place this inside your box to be packaged for shipping. This will give at least some protection to the album and jacket. Just remember the post office may want to inspect the contents so do not tape it up until they have inspected.
Are Vinyl Records Media Mail? A Conclusion
According to our experience and the information we have provided, we feel that vinyl records are considered Media Mail and that this is a viable option for shipping your records.
Worst case scenario if your local post office disagrees with you, kindly show them the links on the USPS website that states otherwise or just upgrade to Priority Mail as the same package sizes still apply for only a small increase in cost. We do not really want to argue with them over a couple of dollars, but sometimes they may not understand exactly what you are shipping.
Would We Ship Using USPS Media Mail For Records?
This depends on personal preferences as brought up in the chart of pros and cons. If I was just sending a record to a friend as a gift or for them to listen to, I would likely use Priority Mail. If I was a store or selling vinyl records online, I would likely go for Media Mail to save money and use Priority Mail to get the package to my customers faster and with a little more confidence when needed.
I hope you found that this article helped a little to walk you through the process of determining if vinyl records are media mail or not, and that you enjoyed some of our tips and tricks for packaging. We felt the information needed to be put out there in a clear discernible way.