If we have kids, chances are there is a pile of old games lying around. Many parents sell games when kids have completed or lost interest in them to regain some of their investment. If we want to ship games, we may wonder if that is possible through Media Mail.
Media Mail classifies games as entertainment, so board games cannot be shipped via Media Mail. Media Mail is a shipping service exclusively for educational resources, such as books, papers, and audio or video recordings.
People might be tempted to use Media Mail to ship games because it’s cheaper. But if we use it to send games, we may receive a fine or incur an additional postage charge. To learn more about shipping games, we’ll look deeper into the question in the article below. So, can games be shipped by Media Mail? Let’s find out!
What is Media Mail?
Media Mail is a service from the US Postal Service (USPS). It started in 1938 to help schools and libraries distribute books and educational materials. Media Mail is also known as the “book rate” in shipping.
The advantage of Media Mail is that it’s cheaper than a regular shipping service, but items take longer to deliver. Items shipped by Media Mail must be educational and fit specific criteria, which we’ll take a closer look at below.
Can Any Games Be Shipped By Media Mail?
The USPS classifies all games as entertainment ineligible for Media Mail rates, as they have strict guidelines about what is deemed educational. Even if they are educational games, games cannot be sent via Media Mail. People sending games through Media Mail run the risk of receiving a fine.
The USPS can open and inspect Media Mail packages to ensure items meet their criteria. If people send things that don’t qualify, they risk having the package returned with additional postal charges or even receiving a fine.
In some instances, the USPS may still deliver the game – but the receiver might get a bill for extra postage costs.
If we want a better idea about what we can and can’t send through Media Mail, take a look at the lists below.
Here’s a list of the things you CAN send by Media Mail:
- Books (which must be at least 8-pages)
- Recorded video tapes
- Sound recordings
- Printed music
- Recorded computer-readable media, such as DVDs and CDs.
- Medical loose-leaf documents or binders
- 16mm width, or narrower films
- Manuscripts and play scripts.
- Printed educational charts and materials
Here’s a list of things you CAN’T send with Media Mail
- Blank media such as video and audio tapes, CDs, DVDs,
- Games cartridges with a computer chip – Nintendo or Playstation cartridges, for example
- Sports or hobby trading cards
- Photographs or photo albums
- Videotapes with advertising
- Films sent to or from a commercial movie theater
- Any form of advertising
Can board games be shipped by Media Mail?
Board games CANNOT be shipped through Media Mail, even if the game is educational. This is because USPS classifies all games as entertainment. Furthermore, board games are not on the list of items accepted by Media Mail.
Can card games be shipped by Media Mail?
Card games CANNOT be shipped through Media Mail because the USPS classifies cards as entertainment, not educational resources. People cannot send cards through Media Mail, including collectors, greetings, or blank cards.
Shipping them First Class is probably your most cost-effective option if you need to mail a card game (or other cards). If there are a lot of cards, consider using one of the First Class Flat Rate packages.
Are video games able to be shipped by Media Mail?
Video games CANNOT be shipped by Media Mail because they are not deemed educational by the USPS. People can send DVDs and computer-readable educational materials via Media Mail, but not video games. Computer-readable games, such as CD-ROMs, diskettes, or console cartridges, should be sent by other means.
Again, First Class Flat Rate packages (envelopes or boxes) may be your best bet.
Are educational board games considered Media Mail?
Media Mail classifies all board games as entertainment, including educational board games. No board games can be sent through Media Mail, even if they are educational.
For a board game, I’d recommend price-checking between First Class and another delivery service (like FedEx or UPS). The best price will depend on the size of the box, the delivery destination, and other factors. You should be able to get a good price estimate via each of the respective websites, though.
Can puzzles be shipped by Media Mail?
Puzzles CANNOT be shipped by Media Mail, including puzzle books. According to Media Mail, puzzles are entertainment and not educational material.
Seriously. Stop trying to use Media Mail when it won’t work. Most puzzles should be easy enough to mail via First Class or an alternate shipping company (such as UPS or FedEx).
Can RPG books be sent by Media Mail?
People CAN send RPG books by media mail because they are readable, like a novel, and are classified as educational.
We can’t send comic books, magazines, or graphic novels because Media Mail class these items as entertainment. Magazines contain advertising, which is also a breach of Media Mail rules.
Why Do Game Sellers Ship Games by Media Mail if It’s Not Allowed?
Many game sellers ship games by Media Mail because it is much cheaper than standard mail. Most of the time, the packet will go unchecked, but there is always a risk the authorities will intercept it. Buyers risk incurring postage fees, while game sellers risk additional fines and fees.
It’s risky for sellers to send games via Media Mail because if the package arrives delayed, opened, and with a charge for extra postage, the buyer will likely complain. Furthermore, the USPS will press charges against regular offenders.
However, many think the risk is worth it even though it’s not allowed.
Our recommendation: if you’re going to ship stuff, do it the right way.
Can I Ship Games by Media Mail Even if It’s Not Allowed?
If people send games by Media Mail, there is always a risk USPS will inspect the packet. If they find items that are not covered in their service, potentially, they can charge the customer with mail fraud. However, they probably will not charge someone for a first offense.
Furthermore, if we ship games illegally by Media Mail, we won’t have the option to insure them. So we also run a risk if the package gets lost or damaged.
In our experience and opinion, it’s not a risk worth taking. No, we’ve never gotten fined (we’ve also never shipped games via Media Mail). Pay the extra couple of bucks to avoid the risk – and get the insurance if it’s an expensive game. Damage happens, and insurance is awesome.
If we want to get rid of old games but don’t want to fork out the dough for postage, consider donating them to a local charity instead.
What’s the Best Way to Ship Games?
The best way to ship games is with a trusted courier service, such as USPS, FedEx, or UPS. They will charge the customer depending on the weight and dimensions of the packet and its destination.
Standard shipping is more expensive than Media Mail, but we can add extras such as next-day delivery, tracking, and insurance. This gives us peace of mind sending the package, and we won’t have to worry about getting fined. Also, the insurance option is great in case of damage.
How do you ship board games?
There are two ways to ship (or mail) board games. We can take them to a post office where they will pack them and send them to the recipient. Or we can do it from home using the internet and our packaging materials, which often work out cheaper.
It’s better to ship a board game in boxes to prevent damage. Fill any empty space with paper or bubble wrap to stop the game from moving around during transit.
What is the cheapest way to ship games?
Most of the time, it is cheaper to ship games in USPS Flat Rate Priority Boxes. Shipping costs depend on many factors, such as size, weight, and destination. To get the best deal, weigh and measure the game and shop around for quotes on the internet.
If we send games regularly, we can usually get a discount on postage if we sign up with a shipping platform. Major couriers such as UPS and FedEx also offer discounts if we have an account and use their service regularly.
Shipping board games aren’t cheap, and printing postage labels at home usually works out to be less expensive. We can also look for used boxes to recycle from a local store to save money on packaging.
USPS offers free packaging as standard, while FedEx and UPS only give free packaging to account holders.
How to Ship Games
People should use trusted courier services such as USPS, FedEx, and UPS to ship games. They must pack, measure, and weigh the game before sending it and print off postage labels. Alternatively, they can take the game to a courier office, where they will pack and send it.
Below, we’ll look at how to ship games with the major shipping companies:
How do I ship games by USPS?
To ship games via USPS, you can take them directly to the post office, where they can pack and send to the recipient. Or, you can pack the item at home, pay for postage online and have them collect the packet from you by leaving the package out for pickup.
To send a game from home with the USPS, we must pack it correctly, measure the dimensions and weigh the box. Put the details on their website, choose the service, pay for postage, and print the labels. It’s helpful if you’ve got adhesive label paper. Otherwise, you’ll need to tape the label in place with durable tape (shipping tape works great for this).
To send the item, we can schedule a free pickup during regular mailing hours, a paid pickup outside of normal hours, or drop the packet off at the local post office.
How to ship games via FedEx
To ship games via FedEx, drop them into a FedEx office with the game or print labels online and schedule a pickup. For shipping, people can also drop their packed and labeled games off at a FedEx drop-off point.
To send a packet via FedEx from home, measure and weigh the package. When we have the weight and dimensions, put the information into their website and use their web tool to determine the needed service.
Finally, pay for postage, print the labels, and take the parcel to a FedEx drop-off point or arrange a home pickup. Home pickups come with an extra charge.
How to ship games via UPS
To ship games with UPS, we can take them to a UPS store, where they can pack and send the package to the recipient. We can also pack games and print labels at home, where we can arrange a pickup or drop the package off at a UPS shipping point or store.
To send items with UPS from home, we must measure and weigh the package and enter the information into their website to generate postage labels.
We can schedule a collection from home to ship the package, but we must pay for this service. Alternatively, we can drop it off at a designated UPS drop-off point or store or hand it to the driver if your normal delivery is due soon anyway.
Best Products For Shipping Games
Ready to ship some games – or to make sure any games you’re buying are being shipped right? These products will help you send your games off in a safe (but awesome) style, so they arrive intact and ready to play.
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- If you do a lot of shipping via USPS, keep a good quantity of their Flat Rate boxes on hand. Not every game will fit in them, but when they do, it’s magic.
- You may also want to keep some bubble mailers (these come in various fun colors) for shipping smaller or card games.
- Keeping some standard box sizes on hand is also a great idea. You can pick from several standard sizes in white boxes here or from some regular (but rectangular) brown box sizes here.
- You’ll want larger boxes (like these) for shipping larger game boxes.
Best Shipping Supplies
- Shipping Tape – You’re going to need a lot of shipping tape. This is the time to go ahead and get the 6-pack of tape.
- Cushion wrap – There are many great options, so make sure you price out what’s best for you. We recommend going environmentally friendly when and where possible with sustainable cushion lock wrap or recyclable honeycomb packing paper.
- Packing peanuts – Sometimes, you can’t avoid using packing peanuts. At least spring for the biodegradable packing peanuts.
- Best Scale Ever – This scale will work for weighing board games of all sizes, and you can also use it in the kitchen. It’s our go-to scale for everything that isn’t people (or pets) weight related.
- Good Scale – If the price tag on the best scale is too much, this is a good enough scale for most packages.
- Minimal Scale – If having a dedicated package scale is too much, at least get a scale like this. You’ll have to weigh yourself on it both with and without the package to do some math, but at least you’ll get a reliable number.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
If we ship games, we might be tempted to use Media Mail, but if we do so, there will be the risk of a returned item or a fine. Instead, use a trusted courier company, such as USPS, FedEx, or UPS, to ship games.
This way, the game will arrive without problems, and we can also take advantage of other services such as insurance and next-day delivery. You may also want to look into getting a signature required on delivery. It can help prevent many theft or fraud-related issues on delivery.
Now that your packages are ready to go (or you’re ready to evaluate the next game you get delivered!), make sure you read our guide on How Long Does Ticket To Ride Take? Timing Ticket To Ride Games. Maybe calculate how many games you could play between now and the next game delivery.
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as gamers.
- 170 Retail Mail Media Mail and Library Mail | Postal Explorer. (n.d.). https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/173.htm
- How Often is Media Mail Inspected. (2022, September 30). US Global Mail. https://www.usglobalmail.com/how-often-is-media-mail-inspected/
- How to Save Money When You Ship Board Games. (n.d.). https://www.boardgameatlas.com/forum/7ynxLoGY2M/how-to-save-money-when-you-ship-board-games
- Customer Support Ruling | Postal Explorer. (n.d.). https://pe.usps.com/text/csr/ps-334.htm
- FedEx. (n.d.). https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/how-to-ship.html
- How to Prepare & Send a Package | USPS. (n.d.). https://www.usps.com/ship/packages.htm
- How To Ship a Parcel | UPS – Spain. (n.d.). https://www.ups.com/es/en/shipping/how-to-ship-package.page
- Media Mail no longer valid for the Role Playing Games category. (2022, August 11). https://community.ebay.com/t5/Shipping/Media-Mail-no-longer-valid-for-the-Role-Playing-Games-category/td-p/32058557
- Shipping Costs and Rates | UPS – United States. (n.d.). https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-costs-rates.page
- United States Postal Service. (n.d.). Compare USPS Shipping Services to Find What’s Right for You. https://www.usps.com/ship/mail-shipping-services.htm
- Using media mail to ship games. (2016, April 6). Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/boardgames/comments/4dlwo3/using_media_mail_to_ship_games/
- What is the best and cheapest means of shipping board games ? (2020, May 4). https://community.ebay.com/t5/Shipping/What-is-the-best-and-cheapest-means-of-shipping-board-games/td-p/30117289