How to Package Your Items For Transit

The right packaging is an essential for shipping everyday or specialist items. Whether you are sending a gift abroad to family and friends or distributing product samples to clients, these expert ParcelHero tips tell you everything you need to know. One of the few things a good courier can’t do for you is pack your items up, so the most important thing you can do is to protect your items with the proper packaging.

ParcelHero Packaging Tips

What are ParcelHero’s Parcel Size and Weight Restrictions?

Each service has a size and weight restriction. For example, our Economy & Express international services are limited to 25kg, which covers the majority of everyday shipments.

However, if the parcel is over 25kg then it will require a ‘heavy’ parcel label and you will need to use our Large and Heavy delivery services. For this, you will be required to assist the courier in loading the package aboard the transport vehicle. Parcels weighing over 50kg will need to be booked at least one day in advance as a special vehicle will need to be arranged for the collection.

Shipments over 70kg require pallet services. Freight shipments need to be stretch wrapped and banded to the pallet with bans running in both directions. All materials used for pallets or crates must be IPPC approved following guidelines for wood packaging. As long as your shipment is less than 1,000kg and 270cm in length, we can provide a solution for all boxed and palletised items.

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How to Measure Your Parcel 

When measuring your parcel, it’s always best to take measurements in centimetres as most couriers use the metric system. Length and girth are calculated by measuring the length, height and width of the package. Although you can access our calculator online, if you want to work out the formula yourself, here’s how: Girth= (2 x width) + (2 x height).

If the dimensional weight exceeds the parcel’s weight, a small charge may be added to the booking. This is automatically calculated at the time of booking, but if you’d like to know how, follow the below steps.

How to Measure a Parcel’s Dimensional Weight

  1. Multiply length by width by height.
  2. Divide by 5,000 for centimetres.
  3. Compare the dimensional weight with the shipment’s actual weight.

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What Are The Golden Rules of Shipping?

  • Choose a good box, ideally a new one. If you reuse a box, make sure it isn’t dented or creased, and give it extra packaging tape reinforcement when you tape it up.
  • Wrap items individually with cushioning material (eg. bubble wrap) and centre them in the box away from sides and corners.
  • Fill out the remainder of the box space with packaging materials such as packaging chips or ‘peanuts’.
  • Sharp, oddly or irregularly shaped items should be wrapped and taped to protect the items from puncturing the box .
  • Double wall boxes are recommended for heavier shipments. Check out our labelling and packaging section for ply strength to help you buy the right box. We recommend a double ply box for anything over 10kg
  • It’s best to protect goods (such as an art print or photograph) from damp by placing them in a plastic bag.
  • Always place small parts in a bag (or Tupperware box) to prevent spilling or sifting during transit.
  • Seal boxes using packaging tape, applying tape evenly across all seams and flaps on the top and bottom of the shipping box. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘H taping’ method.
  • You can also circle the parcel with tape three times in each direction to provide extra support.
  • Duct tape, masking tape, string and cellophane are not substitutes for proper packaging materials.

These are some golden rules to help you prepare your parcel for those everyday shipments. ParcelHero’s packaging dos and don’ts section helps customers with a more extensive packaging guide.


International Shipments

While the packaging guidelines above apply to international shipments, you’ll also need to consider the different transit environments for your parcel. Something to bear in mind for the international shippers: your package will go through varying handling stages on its journey and be stored in a cargo hold, which can change in temperature, so don’t send anything that needs to remain in one temperature state. Finally, you will need to ensure your package has the correct customs paperwork attached. This is automatically provided by ParcelHero upon completion of your booking process.


Key International Shipment Tips

  • Attach the first copy of your customs invoice to the outer packaging of the package. Always place a second copy inside the box with the parcel for extra-security.
  • Customs duties and taxes cannot be included at the time of booking. These fees are determined at the time of entry by custom officials. They are normally paid by the recipient. If you are sending a gift, however, you can pay these fees yourself.
  • Some items may be restricted or under prohibition in the recipient country. It is therefore always best to check the individual country’s requirements before shipping. For more advice on international shipping, please read our customs and import duties page.
  • The cargo areas of most courier vans are not temperature-controlled. Temperature can vary depending on the time of year and country. Don’t sent items that need to be in a temperature controlled environment.
  • Every booking comes with £50 free of cover, but additional cover can also be arranged to protect fragile or high value shipments.

Single Box Shipments
The single box shipment method is best for soft goods or non-fragile items. You can use your own packaging, as long as your box is sturdy and undamaged. However, please note:

  • Chipboard boxes used for gifts or shoes cannot be shipped by themselves as ‘single box’ shipments. These require a corrugated outer box.
  • Loose packaging chips are best for non-fragile products that require some extra cushioning.

Box-in Box Shipments
The box-in-box method is best for fragile items. As a guide, fragile items should be placed in the first box with at least 5 cm of cushioning or foam material. All movement should be restricted with filler material, like crumbled newspaper or packaging chips. Here are some tips:

  • The first box containing the fragile items needs to be placed inside a second box that is ideally 15cm longer than the first box’s measurements for height, width and depth.
  • Fill any void spaces between the first box and second box with cushioning material.
  • For extra protection consider wrapping the inner box with bubble paper.

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How to Package Artwork

On our website you’ll find an extensive guide on packaging artwork. Here is a quick run-through: If you artwork is framed or contains glass, consider crisscrossing masking tape on the glass surface to prevent glass from splintering during transit and use foam sheeting to prevent any scratches. Rare or antique artwork may require a custom crate from a specialist provider. If you are sending a framed photo for example, our tips will suit you fine.

Oil and pastel artworks are a little more difficult to ship. To begin, please ensure all oil is completely dry before shipping. Pastel artworks which are unframed will need glassine paper to protect smudging. As a rule, we do not recommend rolling artwork. However, in certain circumstances you may need to ship rolled goods. All rolled goods must be tightly wrapped using several layers of plastic film or craft paper wrapped with plastic packing tape inside shipping tubes.

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Shipping Musical Instruments

Shipping a musical instrument is a simple melody to learn. If you are shipping a guitar or another instrument with strings, de-tune the strings to loosen the tension on the neck before packaging your instrument. If you are sending the instrument in its transit case then don’t just ship it by itself. Make sure to box both the instrument and the case for extra protection. If you are sending an guitar, not in a hard case, as well as loosening the strings, ensure you have carefully protected the sensitive areas, taping and insulating as you go, in keeping with our general guidelines. While many of our customers ship their luggage without an outer box, this is only appropriate for non-fragile shipments that contain soft furnishings or clothes. Some instruments can snap upon impact. An outer box with parcel chips will minimize impact. In the end, most packaging is commonsense. And while we are thinking musically, we have some great tips on shipping a vinyl collectible.


How to Ship Laptops and Electronics

When sending a laptop or other electronics shipping with the original manufacturer’s packaging is always best. Obviously in some cases this may not be possible. If you are shipping an electronic with the original packaging, remember you will need to place this packaging inside a shipping box to protect the product during transport. As a rule, the majority of electronics should be shipped in a second box. Most professional couriers recommend using foam corner cushioning and/or at least 5cm of packaging chips. All accessories, such as power cables, need to be packaged and wrapped separately.

If you are shipping a laptop, consider using a laptop shipping box. These can be purchased online. Any electronic containing a lithium battery is regulated by the dangerous goods shipping regulations and has to be packaged according to international guidelines. Please see the IATA website for further advice.

How to Package Gifts

Whether its a birthday gift, a Christmas prezzie or you are just sending someone something nice, there are a few useful tips to bear in mind. For a start, don’t use gift-wrapping paper as your outer packaging. As well as it being too weak for the job and liable to tear, if you are sending overseas, customs authorities may want to check the contents. A far smarter idea is to use a gift bag so it can be opened without compromising anything.   

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Shipping Car Parts

On our site you’ll find helpful information about international auto shipping. A speedy reminder for budding auto-parts traders: double and triple wall corrugated boxes are needed for flex plates and flywheels and exhaust system parts or leaf springs should be covered with foam or bubble wrap. Moreover, remember to use ‘heavy’ stickers for boxes exceeding 25kg.

Some goods may be classified as dangerous or hazardous, these include: air-bags, paint and lubricants, batteries, engines and engine blocks, fuel tanks and flammable paints used for touch-ups. It’s always best to check with the manufacturer for further product information. Improperly declared or undeclared shipments of dangers goods may be reported by the courier. And if your wheels are of the two wheeled, self propelled variety, learn all about how to ship a bicycle.

Packaging your goods is a simple and straightforward process provided you follow these tips. Once your package is ready for collection, our courier partner will come to your home or office address and collect your items. Track your shipment using Real-Time scans to follow your parcel as it makes its way. A complimentary email lets you know your shipment has been received.

Mission accomplished!

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