Sending parcels need not be a strain, as long as you do it right.

There are many different reasons why you may want to send a parcel in this day and age. Gifts for friends and family are just the most obvious, but there are multiple other reasons, not least if you’re looking to help people out in what’s increasingly becoming an expensive country to live in. Care packages to people struggling with the cost of living, information for people looking to advocate for themselves and others, and documentation for legal proceedings are just a few things that you might send with the absolute stipulation that they have to get there intact.

Many of us will have been in a situation where we received packages that have been incomplete, damaged or otherwise compromised. When you can’t risk this happening to something you are sending, it’s important to know everything you can about securing your parcels. Below we’ll go into a few examples of things you can do to ensure your items get there on time and intact.

Package Your Item Tightly

When you put together a parcel, you will no doubt be careful how you handle it, and you’ll carry it to the post office or to your courier with the utmost delicacy. But once it’s out of your sight, it’s out of your control, and you simply can’t guarantee it will be treated as cautiously as you’d prefer. So you need to give it the best chance of getting there without the parcel itself or the items within it being breached. If anything inside is fragile, wrap it in bubble wrap and consider taping it to the wall of the box to avoid it moving into a risky position. If there are any liquids in the parcel, reinforce the bubble wrap with a layer of duct tape to avoid piercing and leakage.

It’s understandable that you might look at cardboard boxes and think ‘that doesn’t look sturdy enough’, and plump for a plastic box instead, but don’t do this. Plastic is much more likely to splinter and break fully than any cardboard box, so it’s wise to prefer the latter here, and if you want to reinforce the package you can wrap tape around it to give it better waterproofing.

Send it securely

There are different levels at which you can send a parcel in the UK, with a simple second or first-class postage being the most basic, and options with increasing degrees of speed and security available as you go up the scale. Depending on the part of the UK to which you are sending, you may have the option to get the item where it needs to go by 9 am the following day, or 1 pm if that’s not possible. As well as being swifter, this will mean that your parcel is not sent with the bulk delivery, and is less likely to be subjected to impact. If you want to be even more certain, you can book a courier to pick the parcel up and deliver it directly. This latter option does cost more but again increases the security.

It’s also wise to insure the package if there is anything important inside. Options for insurance include this one here and start at a very affordable level. Insuring the parcel allows an extra level of comfort in the knowledge that you won’t have to bear the financial cost of replacing any goods lost. Insurance can be bought online and becomes active immediately and can be done on a one-off basis.

Know your legal responsibilities

There are limitations on what is permissible to send by post — and by the majority of courier services — so it is always worth being aware of what you can and can’t send. Relatively benign things like cash and perfume are controlled, as are more obvious things such as weapons and hazardous material. It is on you to know whether the items you wish to send are permissible, and if they are not they may be impounded without you having the right to reclaim them.

If you are sending something which is intended as a gift but which falls foul of the limits on what you can send (for example, a larger consignment of perfume), or if you need to send something unusual in a timely fashion (such as a blood sample to a lab), there may be couriers who specialise in more esoteric packages who will help with this. Again, it is always worth checking ahead of time, because if you fall foul of any regulation you may be prone to lose what you wanted to send.