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How to Prepare a Package for Returns

Judith Bright

Posted on April 03 2020

Careful preparation of your package helps to ensure safe delivery.

The Box

Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. Sturdy paperboard or corrugated fiberboard boxes are best for weights up to 10 pounds. If you are reusing a box, totally remove or obliterate all previous labels and markings with heavy black marker.

Where to Find Boxes

You can purchase boxes and tubes of various sizes at most Post Offices. Select Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail boxes are available free at the Post Office for items sent using either of these services. While you are not required to use the free packaging for these services, you must use the USPS-produced address label provided by the Post Office for Priority Mail Express. To order Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail boxes at no extra charge, call 1·800·222·1811 or visit www.usps.com/store.

Cushioning

Place the cushioning all around your item or items. You can use newspaper, “foam peanuts,” or shredded paper. Close and shake the box to see if you have enough cushioning. If you hear items shifting, add more cushioning.

Placing an extra address label with the delivery and return addresses inside the package will ensure that the item can be delivered in case the outside label becomes damaged or falls off.

Mailing Fragile Items

Use foamed plastic or padding to protect your items, placing the cushioning inside hollow items as well. Mark the package “Fragile” or mark “Perishable” on packages that contain food or other items that can spoil. Careful packaging is the best way to safeguard your valuable items against damage.

Mailing Heavy Items

If you are mailing a very heavy or very dense item, start with a sturdy box, pack the contents securely with a strong material for bracing to prevent shifting, and tape all the edges with reinforced tape. Packages heavier than 70 pounds cannot be mailed.

Sealing

Tape the opening of your box and reinforce all seams with 2-inch-wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape. Do not use cord, string, twine, masking, or cellophane tape. Place a strip of clear packaging tape over your label to prevent the address from smearing.

Return Address

Print or type your address in the upper left corner on the same side of the package as the delivery address.

Extra Services

Place labels for extra services above the delivery address and to the right of the return address, or to the left of the delivery address.

Postage

Use stamps, a postage meter, or a PC Postage system to affix the correct amount. You can calculate and purchase postage online at www.usps.com.

Delivery Address

Print or type the delivery address parallel to the longest side of the package. Type or print clearly with a pen or permanent marker so that your address is legible from an arm’s length away. Do not use commas or periods.

Confirmation Services

Labels for USPS Tracking or Signature Confirmation are placed to the left of the address label.

City, State, and ZIP Code

To find the correct spelling of a city name and state abbreviation or to find a ZIP Code, visit www.usps.com or call 1·800·ASK·USPS. Using the correct ZIP Code helps direct your mail more efficiently and accurately.

Drop Off

If your mail item weighs 13 ounces or less, and you have affixed correct postage, you can drop it into a blue collection box. If your item weighs more than 13 ounces, and you have affixed postage stamps, you must take it to an employee at the retail counter of a Post Office.

*Source: usps.com

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