How to Properly Package Items to Ship Through the Post Office


Using the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ship packages is a very common practice for millions of people every day. The post office handles these parcels quickly and with no trouble, if these items are properly packaged in the first place. When items are not properly packaged there can be many problems, but this is easily avoidable. If you know how to properly package your items to ship through the post office, they will arrive quickly and without troubles. The following steps provide all the details needed to understand how to accomplish this.

Things You'll Need

  • Item
  • Box
  • Padding
  • Tape
  • Addresses
  • Labels (Optional)
  • Printed Postage (Optional)

Know your package limits. There are restrictions on the total weight and size of packages that the post office will accept for shipping. You must weigh the package and it cannot be heavier than 70 pounds. You have to also measure the packages longest side and add that to the measurement around the widest section. This combined measurement cannot exceed 108 inches. If your package is above these amounts, you will have to ship it by some other method.

Select the right type of box and size for your package. Find a box for your item that allows room for padding, but not one that is oversized. It will matter what exactly you are shipping, but the ideas can be used for most anything. If your item is heavy, you probably should use a heavier type of box or brace it and be sure to use reinforced tape on the edges. You can use any box as long as all labels and other markings have been covered or marked out with a black marker. You can get several different sizes and styles of boxes for mailing packages either Priority or Express from your local post office or at their website (see Resources below for direct link).

Add enough cushioning to your package. Once the package is mailed, it needs to be able to withstand being moved and transported by machines and post office employees without causing any damage to them or other pieces of mail. The best way to do this is to totally enclose your item in cushioning. You can use old newspapers, bubble wrap, foam pieces, shredded paper, or alike for padding. Before you seal the box, check to be sure there is no shifting of the item. You can do this by holding the box closed and shaking it. Also be sure to place the return address and delivery address on a label (or piece of paper) inside the package.

Properly seal and label your package. You are permitted to use 2-inch wide brown or clear packing tape, paper or reinforced packing tape to seal your package. Tape all of the seams on the box. You can print your labels from the USPS website or be sure to properly address them. The return address is to be in the upper left and the delivery address a little lower to the right. Any other service labels should be placed to the right of the return address.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you printed your own labels, you may want to cover the address with tape unless you have waterproof ink. Be careful not to cover the bar codes, as the tape may cause the bar code reader to not be able to read the barcode.
  • There are certain items that are not permitted by the USPS to be mailed, you should check with your local post office (or online) for more information about this.

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