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Safely packaging and wrapping presents and goods for courier delivery

Safely packaging your items for courier delivery

If you are a first-timer or you are sending something fragile or expensive for the first time, using a courier to deliver your goods can make even the most confident shipper a bit nervous.

Whether you're shipping within your home country, or using an international courier service, your parcel will be handled multiple times, may pass through multiple sortation depots and because it will be transported with other packages it will have parcels placed on top of it. And if you are shipping internationally, your parcel may even be subject to environmental pressures such as extreme hot or cold.

Even though ParcelHero® only use highly reputed partner carriers with the best reputations for handling care, if your items are insufficiently well packaged, problems could still occur. So safely packaging your parcel is extremely important, whatever you are sending but particularly so if you are sending electronic items, perishable goods, or anything fragile. ParcelHero® includes £50 standard cover with every shipment but if your parcel is not packaged properly, this can invalidate any claim you make in the unlikely event of damage in transit.

No courier can package your goods for you but this helpful ParcelHero® guide on how to package your parcel tells you all you need to know to package your items for safe, damage-free transit.

Choosing a box

Choosing a Box

Box Strength

The heavier the item or items you are sending, the stronger the box requirement. Packaging retailers offer dedicated boxes specifically designed for particular items (eg: a bike or golf clubs) or general use boxes of various strengths.

You can buy single, double or triple walled corrugated boxes. For more detailed information, please check our information on box strength guidelines.

Suggested box strength requirements:

  • Over 10kg: double-lined corrugated box.
  • Over 30kg: triple-lined corrugated box.
  • Over 40kg: rigid wooden box or pallet.
  • Artwork: rigid wooden box.
  • Musical Instruments: flight case or rigid wooden box.
Re-using boxes

It's very tempting to re-use an old box. This is often a perfectly valid option for certain goods, if the box is packaged and packed correctly, but with other parcels potentially being placed on top of yours in transit, the box needs to be strong enough to withstand that. A re-used box will have been weakened by previous use so has a greater potential to collapse, or worse, break open.

If you decide to re-use a box, please note the following:

  1. ParcelHero® recommends only re-using a box if it is still strong, undamaged, rigid and robust. Check for signs of damage, particularly creasing to the box sides and tears or dents to the box seams. These are tell-tale signs of a risky, weak box.
  2. Reinforce the box seams with high-strength packaging tape and use double the amount than for a brand new box.
Box Size

Please don't just use the first box you find. Using an appropriately sized box is an important factor in protecting your items, but also can save you money on your delivery. Things to consider:

a. If the box is too small for its contents, then it puts excessive strain on the box. This creates a greater risk of the box splitting in transit. Choose a box that allows you to place the recommended 7 cm/2.5 inches of bubble wrap or internal cushioning around the items within the box. Your items should be a snug fit, not forced and should not touch the box walls.

b. If the box is too big for the contents, you will require additional internal cushioning to ensure your items do not move around inside, as this can cause damage. An unnecessarily large box will also cost more to send as all parcel couriers charge on the basis of size and weight. The larger the parcel, the higher the delivery cost.

About various packaging materials

Packing Materials

Outer Packaging

Corrugated cardboard box

This is the most widely used outer packaging and the strength of the box is absolutely critical. The heavier the items, the stronger the box requirement. A common mistake is to re-use boxes that have been excessively weakened as each time a box is used, it loses rigidity and strength. If other boxes are placed on top of your box during transit, this puts strain on the box and eventually the walls of the box could weaken and collapse. Boxes are available in single, double or triple strength corrugated cardboard, and we recommend using double or triple strength boxes for heavy parcels.

Express Envelopes

If you're only shipping documents, we recommend using an express envelope. Your courier will be able to provide this. An express envelope is a rigid cardboard envelope with a documents enclosed pouch and a sealable flap. This is ideal for protecting your documents during transit.

Express Bags

Your collecting courier will normally carry express bags on board their vehicle. These sealable plastic bags come in three sizes and protect items from environmental conditions. However, please note they do not provide cushioning or protection from impact, so please place your item in a padded envelope or small box before placing it in the express bag. Never send fragile items inside a courier bag as they will be insufficiently protected.

Internal Packaging

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is the perfect internal cushioning material for protecting lightweight products in transit. It is easily available or you may have it in the house or office already. You can use bubble wrap to protect individual items and to suspend your goods inside the box. We strongly recommend using multiple layers of bubble wrap for each item for maximum protection.

Loose Fill Polystyrene'Peanuts

Polystyrene packing chips or 'peanuts' are the perfect space filling material for lightweight items.

Here's how to use these in your parcel:

  1. Individually wrap each item in bubble-wrap and fill the box with at least 7cm of polystyrene chips.
  2. Place the items in the centre of the box, ensuring they are not touching each other or the outer walls of the box.
  3. Fill the box with the packing chips before sealing the box with strong packaging tape.

Polyethylene Foam

Polyethylene Foam is ideal for delicate items because it is soft and non-abrasive. We recommend wrapping a delicate item completely with polyethylene foam making sure no part of your item is exposed. Secure with securing tape, apply bubble warp and pack as before.

Crumpled Paper

This is a commonly used 'space filler' but is not the ideal internal packaging material for smaller or fragile items as it does not insulate or protect as well as bubble wrap or packing chips. It is still effective for boxes containing larger pre-packaged items. When using this material you should ensure the paper is tightly crumpled and place at least 10 cm of paper between the items and the outer box.
Safely packaging your items inside the box

Safely Packaging and Wrapping Your Items

Package your items safely

Suspending a fragile item inside the box

If you're shipping electronic items or products containing glass, it is essential the product is fully suspended inside the box and is not touching the box walls.

This will protect your items from any impact in transit and radically reduce any possibility of damage.

ParcelHero® recommends using bubble wrap or packaging chips for your interior insulation but please note, simply wrapping your items in bubble wrap does not constitute full suspension within the box and your items could still be subject to impact pressures.

When suspending a fragile product, polystyrene corner blocks or end caps are recommended.

Double-box for maximum protection

As an extra precaution for very fragile items, you can also 'double box' your product. When you double box an item, you should ensure that the outer box is at least 15 cm longer and wider than the box containing your product. Here's how to 'double box' a parcel:

  1. Place 7cm of polystyrene packing chips on the floor of your outer box.
  2. Place the inner box containing your item centrally within the outer box.
  3. Completely fill the outer box up with polystyrene packing chips (sides and top) and seal the outer box.

This is a really good way or adding a really robust additional layer of protection.

Shipping multiple items in a single box

If you are sending more than one item in a single box, it is important to remember to adequately pack and insulate the individual items so they cannot move and bump together inside the box. During transit, this could cause damage to either or all of the enclosed items.

To prevent your items from damage please follow these simple guidelines:

1. Wrap each gift or item individually

We strongly recommend individually wrapping each item in bubble wrap to protect it during transit:

If it is a hollow item, for example a cup or vase, we recommend filling the interior with bubble wrap.

If it is a sensitive, fragile piece of equipment such as a camera lens, we suggest you add an under layer of wrapping paper before encasing in bubble wrap. This will help avoid dust infiltrating the equipment.

For electronic items, you should consider using an anti-static bag. This protects against static electricity which can damage or contaminate electronic items. Once placed in the anti-static bag, encase in bubble wrap and cushion with polystyrene packing chips for maximum protection. Anti-static bags are available in a wide variety of sizes.


2. Carefully pack your item with recommended cushioning materials

The most commonly used forms of internal parcel packaging materials, bubble wrap and foam or polystyrene chips or 'peanuts' are both readily available. They both protect and cushion your items from vibration, impact and shock. The cushioning materials should be used as follows:

  1. Place them on the base or floor of the box.
  2. Place your individually wrapped item or items on the base layer and add packaging chips or bubble wrap to all sides.
  3. Place material in-between each item inside the box so the items cannot slide around and damage each other.
  4. Check your items are not touching the box walls (or lid) to avoid potential vulnerability to external impact.
  5. Place materials on top of the items to create a top layer of insulation.
  6. The box should be completely filled with the cushioning material so the items inside have no room to move around.

3. Sealing Your Parcel

Taping your box up securely is just as important as using the correct box. Adequate robust taping significantly reduces the chances of a box collapsing or being damaged during transit. Follow these steps when taping up your package.

1
Use suitable strong parcel packaging tape, not sellotape, masking tape or duct tape or anything other than parcel packaging tape! Robust packaging tape is vital in maintaining your box shape and security. Weak taping can result in the box breaking or collapsing.
2
Tape up the parcel at least 3 times, all the way around the parcel, in both directions. We strongly recommend ensuring all seams and box joins are reinforced. The more tape you use, the stronger your box becomes.
Labels and Shipping Documents

Labels & Shipping Documents

1. Shipping Labels

Affix 1 shipping label firmly and securely to each parcel. You should hand any spare label copies to the collecting courier.
The shipping label should be attached to the parcel using a self-adhesive documents enclosed pouch. The driver collecting your parcel should be able to provide this (however they may not always have stock). If a documents enclosed pouch is unavailable, tape the label to the parcel, ensuring you do not cover the barcodes with the tape. Make sure you keep the barcode straight (for example, don't bend or fold it over the side or corner of the parcel) as this will prevent the parcel from being scanned.

2. Customs Invoices

Customs invoices are only required if you are shipping goods outside the European Union (EU).
For parcels being sent outside the EU that travel via the ParcelHero® sorting facility in Haverhill, you do not need to generate customs invoices. We will do this for you when the shipment arrives at our facility. However, if the shipping label is not addressed to our Haverhill sortation centre, you will need to print 5 copies of the customs invoice: place three copies on the parcel and give the remaining 2 copies to the collecting courier.

3. Shipment Receipt

The final document to print out is your shipment receipt. This is your proof of shipping and collection. Whilst most collection couriers are happy to sign this for you, they are entitled to refuse to do so. It's just an extra precaution ParcelHero® take on our customers' behalf.
Special labelling for fragile items

Special Labelling for your Parcel

Heavy Weight Labels

If your parcel weighs more than 25kg, you are required to place a 'Heavy Parcel' label on it. Your collection courier will be able to provide this when they collect your package.

Fragile, Handle with Care

Although we recommend using 'handle with care' or 'fragile' labels for items that are particularly delicate, this will not guarantee against damage. The only way to ensure that your items will not be damaged is to ensure they are packaged correctly and securely.

This Way Up

Despite placing this sticker on your package, a standard courier service will not give it special treatment. Courier networks are not suitable for this type of specialist handling. If it's important the package is kept a particular way up, the best way to achieve this is to put the package on a pallet.
Packaging Help

Packaging Do's and Don'ts:

Do:
  1. Use a box that's strong enough for the contents, ideally a new unused box.
  2. Use a box that's the correct size for the products you're shipping.
  3. Remove any old barcoded labels, address labels or markings from the box.
  4. Wrap each item individually before placing them inside the box.
  5. Suspend the item(s) inside the box with suitable internal cushioning materials.
  6. Place an extra address label inside the box as a precaution.
  7. Use a double lined box if your parcel weights over 10kg.
  8. Use a rigid wooden box when shipping artwork or heavy products over 40kg.
  9. Always ensure you apply the parcel packaging tape in both directions, all the way around the box.
  10. Always remember that if your packaging is not sufficient, you may be unable to claim in the event of damage.
Don't:
  1. Re-use an old box a box where the walls of the box are weakened or creased.
  2. Let any item inside the box touch the inside walls of the box.
  3. Allow any movement of your items inside the box - make sure the box is completely filled with interior packaging material, such as polystyrene packing chips.
  4. Ship prohibited items such as flammable liquids .
  5. Place any strapping or string fastenings on the outside of the parcel (as the straps may get caught on something while in transit).
  6. Send perishable goods that need to be kept cool, they are not suitable for a standard courier service, and most countries prohibit the importation of perishable food products without a special licence.
Packaging Criteria
Packaging Criteria
Compensation & Exclusions
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