Friday, January 22, 2016

Guide to Shipping Video Games

Below is a guide to shipping video games. The information applies to shipping other items too but all of my examples will be for video games.

What Packaging to Use

The packaging you use is very important when shipping because it will greatly impact the cost.

Rigid DVD Mailers
rigid dvd mailer
$0.16/each on Amazon

These meet all the qualifications for "First Class Letter" and work very well protecting disc games.

I only use these when shipping cheaper disc only games because there is no tracking. For a game that sells for $5, it is better to save $2 on shipping (difference between Letter and Flat) and lose the ability to track it from door to door.

On more valuable disc only games, I upgrade to a Bubble Mailer (see below) and pay an extra $2 for the tracking.

#1 Bubble Mailers
#1 bubble mailer with measurements
$0.19/each on Amazon

These meet all the qualifications for "First Class Flat" depending on what is shipped inside.

The mailers are too thick to qualify for "Letter" rate though even with nothing inside.

A CD game in a jewel case (PS1 or Dreamcast) qualifies for "Flat".

dreamcast game inside bubble mailer

Most other games can ship inside a bubble mailer, but they will require the "Package" service due to thickness. This option is cheaper than using a box though because a box weights more and costs more to purchase.

dvd case game inside bubble mailer

genesis boxed game inside bubble mailer

SNES cartridge inside bubble mailer

dvd case mailer
$0.42/each on Amazon

A box is my last resort for shipping. They are more expensive and heavier (increase shipping costs).

I will use boxes for shipping fragile Complete in Box games because they provide more protection. For example, NES, SNES, N64 and Sega CD boxes are very fragile. They will be damaged in a bubble mailer.

What Mail Service to Use

I always recommend shipping video games using First Class Mail International. It is cost effective, usually trackable, and arrives within 7-14 days in most instances.

There are three different First Class classifications and the costs vary a great deal depending on which you use.

First Class Letter
Dimension Requirements:
Length (Max): 11 1/2 inches
Height (Max): 6 1/8 inches
Thickness (Max): 1/4 inch
Weight (Max): 3.5 ounces

Cost: $1.20-1.70
Not trackable

Video games easily fit under the length and height maximums for letters. The problem is thickness. Only discs can qualify for the thickness requirement.

Generally speaking you will NOT ship video games as First Class Letters. The only exception is really cheap game discs which it sometimes makes sense to ship in a hard cardboard sleeve to save on postage.

First Class Flat/Large Envelope
Dimension Requirements:
Length (Max): 15 inches
Height (Max): 12 inches
Thickness (Max): 3/4 inch
Weight (Max): 4 lbs

Cost: $2.30-$19

first class flat canada

Again, thickness will be the limiting dimension for Large Envelope service. 3/4 inch is still pretty thin.

Some video games will qualify as Large Envelopes if packaged correctly. Disc games with jewel cases (PS1, Dreamcast) and portable games without cases (Gameboy, Nintendo DS, PSP, etc).

Because it is trackable and cheaper than package service, use this method for any item that qualifies as a Large Envelope.

First Class Package
Dimension Requirements:
Length (Max): 24 inches
Length + Height + Width (Max): 36 inches Weight (Max): 4 lbs

Cost: $9.50-36.50

first class package canada

If the game can't ship as a letter or large envelope, it is a package.

Games that ship as packages include disc games with DVD cases (Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, PS4, 360, etc), thick cartridges (N64, SNES, Genesis), and anything else with a box.

Most video games will have to be shipped as First Class Packages. It is trackable but more expensive.

Media Mail
Do not ship video games or video game hardware with media mail. It does not qualify. Your package will be refused or additional postage will be added on.

Customs Forms for Canada

Shipments going to Canada will need a customs form filled out.

Packages under 4 lbs use form CN22.

Packages above 4 lbs require a longer form, 2976-B, which is in quadruplicate.

Below is an example of the CN22 form filled out for a video game.

CN22 Example Filled Out

The USPS let's you fill out the CN22 online or you can fill it out at the post office.

Save Money with Large Volume Shipping Providers

If you ship lots of international packages (5 pound per day minimum) you can use shipping services like UPS Mail Innovations and DHL Globalmail and save a bunch of money on First Class Packages.

These providers will pickup the packages from you, sort them, process them until they reach the border and then hand them off to Canada Post (or other country post office) to handle the rest of the delivery.

The savings can be substantial and the more you ship the bigger the discounts.

Here's an example based upon actual costs per item for a seller shipping 30+ pounds per day:

Weight USPS First Class Mail Innovations
1 oz $9.50 $3.10
5 oz $9.50 $4.26
10 oz $15.00 $5.71

As you can see, the savings are pretty big and the packages are trackable from door-to-door.

Once you get used to shipping to Canada, it is very straight forward. It can be expensive but buyers on our marketplace cover all the shipping costs.

If you have any questions about shipping games to Canada, please let me know in the comments below.


Alex said...

Just a warning that rigid envelopes envelopes containing rigid objects sent by domestic letter mail are subject to a 22-cent "non-machinable surcharge" according to postal rules: . Not sure how much for Canada.

Anonymous said...

Do they pay extra on top of the standard $2.00 for shipping? Can we choose not to ship internationally?

JJ said...

Canadian buyers do pay additional shipping on the PriceCharting Marketplace. The price they pay varies based upon the item and the cost to ship the item. Anywhere from $3 extra to $25 extra.

You can see the exact costs and items.

Anonymous said...

Does shipping large envelope still work? Wouldn't a CD make it fall under "Rigid - does not bend easily"? the USPS site says you can't print it online, is there somewhere else we can get it or do we have to pay for it at the pots office?

JJ said...

@anonymous - You can still ship via a large envelope, but USPS does not offer a discount price for them anymore. Unfortunately, they consider them a package now.

Anonymous said...

If I send a Nintendo switch game in its original thin case, how much would it cost and how should I send it? Would it be considered a flat or large envelope?

JJ said...

@anonymous - a Switch game in the original case will need to ship as a package. It will cost about $3.50-4.00 depending on where it is shipping in the USA.

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