Parcel Packaging Guidelines & Advice


Before attempting to book a shipment, you MUST ensure that the items you want to send adhere to our regulations regarding prohibited and restricted items. For more information please click here to read our prohibited and restricted guidelines. Using the information in the following guidelines will not only help to ensure that your shipments arrive damage free and on time but will help you to avoid unnecessary surcharges and delays.

Parcels

Cardboard boxes are the most common and recommended way to ship parcels under 30kg. We recommend items exceeding this weight are packaged in wooden crates and that you have adequate loading facilities and / or manpower to assist the delivery driver when loading and unloading. Please be aware however that with some carriers a small surcharge may be applied to shipments using non-cardboard packaging materials.

Please also note that shipments with a gross weight exceeding 50kg must be palletised. For more information on shipping pallets please click here.

1. Using the Right Box

Whenever possible, it is always best to use a new box to package your items. Reused boxes weaken over time and increase the risk of damage to shipments during transit. As you might rightly assume, the stronger and more rigid the box you use the better.

  • What Type of Cardboard Box Should I Use?

    We highly recommend using nothing less than corrugated fibreboard cardboard boxes for most parcel shipments and heavy duty double layered corrugated cardboard to package heavier and more fragile items.

    Please note; gifts or other items sent in their manufacturing packaging (e.g. toys or shoes) are not suitable for shipping as the risk of damage to these items is high. Compensation claims for damages to shipments are likely to be invalid if insufficient packaging is found to have been used.

  • What Size Box Should I Use?

    Another important aspect to consider is the size of the box you use. An appropriately sized box may not only save you money, but also significantly decrease the risk of damage to your shipments. Boxes that are under-filled carry a high chance of collapsing as during transit boxes are often stacked on top of one another. Conversely boxes that are overloaded are liable to burst.

2. Wrapping and Securing the Contents

Ensuring the contents of your parcels are well wrapped and securely packaged within your shipping box is a critical step in the packaging procedure. Doing so correctly will help avoid, damages, loss and delays.

  • How Should I Wrap My Items?

    All items should be individually wrapped using protective cushioning materials and then packaged within your shipping box, taking care that they do not come into direct contact with each other. Also try to place items in the centre of your box. Doing so will minimise contact with the box edges and further reduce the risk of damage to the contents.

  • What Are Good Cushioning Materials?

    Bubble wrap, cardboard dividers and separators, inflatable packaging (air bags) and polystyrene loose peanuts are all very effective cushioning materials. However, cheaper and greener alternatives such as newspaper, old wrapping paper, shredded clothing and other such materials are also suitable options.

    For heavier shipments; shaped foam and polystyrene surrounds & ends are recommended, as lighter materials can shift and crush under heavier loads significantly reducing their protective capabilities.

  • What about Extra Fragile Items?

    For items of especial fragility and / or high value, we recommend using the box in a box packing method. To do this you will need to use a second box that is at least 6" (15.24cm) wider and deeper than the original box that your items are already securely packaged in. Fill the base of the second box with 3” (7.62cm) of recommended cushioning materials before pacing the first box inside. Next you will need to fill the gaps around the edges and the remaining space on top with the same cushioning materials before sealing the box.

    Never consider "handle with care" or "fragile" labels as a substitute for professional packaging.
    Please also remember any items with sharp or pointed edges should be securely covered with extra cardboard

3. Sealing Your Package(s)

Securely sealing you parcel is equally as important as securing the contents. Failure to do so often leads to items being damaged and even lost during transit. Please see below for information on how best to seal your parcel(s) and what materials we recommend you use.

Please note: Whilst it is essential that you adequately seal your parcels, please refrain from over-sealing, as on occasion customs officials may want (and reserve the right at any time) to inspect your goods.

  • How Should I Seal My Parcel And What Should I Use?

    Once you have wrapped and secured the contents of your parcel, you will need to seal all the open edges and seams of your box, ensuring you do not tape over the label if already applied. We recommend using nothing less than polypropylene, vinyl adhesive or fibre-reinforced paper tape. These are very durable sealing tapes and are unlikely to accidently come unstuck whilst your parcel is in transit.

    Remember: If shrink-wrapping, expect some carriers to add an extended packaging surcharge. Never shrink wrap over your delivery labels as this can make them difficult to scan.

  • What Should I Use For Extra Heavy Or Bulky Parcels?

    For heavier parcels, you should consider using strapping. Strapping will take the strain off the box edges and seams and significantly increase a parcels overall strength and stability. Polypropylene plastic strapping is a good low cost option, though as the tensile strength of this material is not very high we do not recommended its use for parcels weighing more than 30kg. For heavier parcels up to 50kg we recommend using Polyester strapping.

    For shipments packaged in wooden boxes / crates, you should use metal strapping as it does not stretch and has a very high tensile strength. Please be aware however that metal strapping should not be used on cardboard containers as there is a high chance of it cutting through the cardboard and damaging the contents.

    Remember: If shrink-wrapping, expect some carriers to add an extended packaging surcharge. Never shrink wrap over your delivery labels as this can make them difficult to scan.

  • Materials and Methods You Should NOT Use To Seal Your Parcel?

    Household tapes such as Sellotape, masking tape, paper tape (unless fibre-reinforced) etc. are not suitable tapes for sealing parcels. They simply to not offer the same level of strength as the tapes we recommend so you should avoid using them. We strongly advise that you do not use string or rope to seal parcels either as (similarly to metal strapping) there is a high chance of it cutting through the cardboard and damaging the contents inside.

    Important: Never tape parcels together. Doing so will leave your consignment in great danger of becoming separated in transit. Moreover you will only be given one delivery label. If separated, an unlabelled, unidentifiable parcel can be extremely difficult, if not impossible to find within a large courier network. No claims for loss or damage will be accepted for such shipments.

4. Measuring and Weighing Your Shipment(s)

Measuring and weighing your parcels accurately is of paramount importance. Under declaring parcel weights and/ or dimensions is the most common cause of unnecessary, and often costly surcharges.

  • How to Measure My Parcel?

    To calculate the dimensions of you parcel, lay the parcel down on the floor with its largest surface face down.

    Using a tape measure, accurately measure in centimetres:

    • The distance from the floor to the top of the parcel to calculate the height.
    • The longest side of the parcel to calculate the length.
    • The remaining side to calculate the width.

    When measuring the dimensions of irregular shaped parcels, measure them at their extreme points, as if they were rectangular.

  • How to Weigh My Parcel

    Everyday kitchen scales are ideal for weighing small parcels and documents, and for larger parcels bathroom scales could be used if pallet scales are not readily available. Please be aware however that the accuracy of your scales cannot be assumed. All parcels are check-weighed by our carriers and cannot be disputed. Remember to always lift parcels safely.

    It is important not to underestimate the weight of the packaging. Doing so could result in unnecessary surcharges. For this reason it is essential that you weigh your parcel after it has been securely packaged.

    Please also remember that delivery drivers are not obliged to manually lift parcels over 25kg unassisted. For parcels heavier than this you will need to have adequate loading facilities and / or manpower to assist the delivery driver when loading and unloading, unless a tail-lift vehicle is requested. For shipments requiring a tail-lift vehicle, 24 hours notice will be required for collections.

5. Labelling Your Package(s)

Correctly labelling your parcel is possibly the most important aspect of the packaging process. Incorrect labelling is the most common cause of failed collections, miss-sorts, late deliveries and lost parcels!

  • What Labels Need to Go On My Parcel?

    When you place an order with ParcelBroker, you will be automatically sent an email containing a link to your barcoded delivery labels. You will receive these in a PDF format when downloaded. Before your parcel(s) can be collected, your label(s) must be printed out and affixed firmly to your parcel(s) using a transparent document wallet or strong adhesive tape, preferably a tape recommended for sealing your parcel. If sending a consignment (multiple parcels) you will have a label for each one numbered accordingly.

    Do not affix labels to corners, edges or seems of a box, or cover any of the text or barcodes with tape – the courier driver will need to scan the barcode on your label in order to collect your goods. Please also remember; if reusing a box, remove all old labels!

    We do not recommend shipping any items in suitcases or fabric bags as the risk of damage to your case, bag and / or contents is high. Not only this but labels do not tend to stick well to these surfaces and often come unstuck in transit leading to long delays and even loss. If you do choose to ship your items in a bag or case, ensure you attach your label within a clear, strong plastic wallet and attach this securely to the handle or strap with a cable tie.

6. Things to Avoid

  • Reusing boxes.
  • Under or over filling boxes.
  • Strapping or taping boxes together.
  • Using bags / suitcases / external packaging made of fabric or cloth.
  • Over sealing parcels.
  • Weighing your goods before they have been packaged.
  • Estimating the weight / dimensions.

7. Packaging Checklist

  • Make sure the box you are using is suitable in size and strength for the goods you are shipping.
  • Ensure you use a sufficient quantity of recommended internal cushioning materials to prevent your goods making contact with the outer walls of the box.
  • Ensure all open edges and seams of you parcel(s) are securely sealed.
  • Double check the weight and dimensions of your parcels (once packaged).
  • If reusing a box, remove/ cross out any old labelling.
  • Label your parcel(s) with the barcoded labels provided by ParcelBroker.
  • Keep packages somewhere dry whilst awaiting collection!

Pallets

The goods must not exceed the dimensions of your declared pallet size. All pallets heights are measured from the ground up and include the height of the pallet.

The goods must be fully contained within the parameters of the pallet base. Goods that overhang the base of a pallet will not be covered for damage in transit.

There must be no overhang from the edges of the pallet base otherwise extra pallet spaces will be charged for.

The goods must be stable when placed on the pallet and strapped firmly to the pallet base using shrink wrap, banding, ratchet straps or rope. The palletised goods should be reasonably protected using packing materials such as cardboard, bubble wrap, polystyrene etc...

Please ensure the pallet is not "top heavy" as they will be free standing in trunk and delivery vehicles and can be loaded/unloaded up to 8 times during a standard delivery process. If the pallet is top heavy it is likely to topple over and damage the contents, other customers’ items and also the vehicle.

Any motor parts containing or having contained oils or liquids must be fully drained before shipping then plugged and placed on the pallet with sufficient wrapping to catch any unwanted drips. Items found dripping onto the floors of vehicles or depots may be disposed of and no extended liability cover will be applicable to these shipments.

For deliveries via air transportation methods, no parts containing or having contained oils or liquids may be sent without a decontamination certificate.

If your pallet is not stackable i.e. another pallet may not be placed on top for transportation this must be clearly displayed on the outside of the pallet.