How to Ship Paper Money in the Mail? Safest Way to Ship Paper Money by Mail?

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In the old days, one could walk into a currency dealer’s store or approach their stand at a show, find a cool note, pay for it, and get it handed to them in person. Face-to-face transactions are actually still preferable, especially for high end notes, and can be completed in minutes. When a dealer sells a note from his or her inventory over the internet, however, the note has to reach the customer safely. That means old fashioned “snail mail” or express services must be used. Sorry, Star Trek style transporters are not yet available, but we’ll be the first to let you know when Mr. Scott is available for a paper money transaction! 🙂

How do I ship paper money to a dealer or third party grading service?

We’re glad you asked, because we have some experience in this area. Unlike a plastic coin case, which can take a ding or two and not adversely affect the coin’s grade, paper money that gets bent, warped, twisted, or crushed in the mail usually means that PMG Gem Unc 65 note you just bought suddenly becomes PMG Very Good 10 in an instant. Yes, paper currency is durable, but it isn’t immune to mishandling, human error, or damage when sent in the mail, even under the best circumstances.

Conservative Method of Shipping Paper Money by Mail

You just found an old bank note in the family safe and need to sell it for cash. A dealer made an offer and you need to send it off to him to finish the transaction. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a legal size envelope or medium sized manila envelope normally used to mail documents.
  2. Important: Use a pair of scissors to remove the gummed edge of the envelope, even if you don’t think it could ever come into contact with the note you’re mailing. If a dealer receives a note that is adhered to the gummed edge of an envelope, they will likely want some or all of their money back and will return the note. Don’t take any chances when mailing currency: just get rid of the gummed flap altogether. If you’re using a manila envelope with a metal clasp, remove it as well. Notes that get caught on these clasps during shipment get ruined.
  3. Once any obstructions are removed, carefully place the note inside the envelope, making sure not to bend, fold, or otherwise alter the condition of the note. If the envelope is too small, don’t force the note into it. Instead, find a larger envelope that can adequately accommodate the note and allow for free movement during shipping.
  4. Set the envelope containing the note aside for a moment. Again, do NOT tape, glue, or staple the envelope shut at this point, since you potentially risk the same problems discussed step #2 above.
  5. Find a small box that will hold the entire envelope you’ve made comfortably, allowing some room for the envelope to move around a bit. Place the envelope containing the note inside the box. Do not force it in or otherwise bend, fold, or crush note or else you risk fundamentally altering the note’s condition and value.
  6. If you have any small pieces of newspaper handy, carefully place them inside the small box to act as a rudimentary buffer to protect the envelope containing your note. Important: Do NOT sandwich the note between layers of crumpled up newspaper. Instead, place the envelope holding your note flat inside the box and THEN place loose newspaper pieces above it.
  7. Now head off to the Post Office, Fedex, DHL, or some other express service. Request a standard cardboard shipping box. Do not use a flimsy envelope or other low quality container. Place your small box inside the shipping container, adding newspaper pieces, packing peanuts, or plastic bubble wrap as needed to allow the small box room to fit comfortably inside. It should be free to move a little, but not bounce around uncontrollably. Err on the side of caution and add extra packing materials if necessary.

That’s it for packing, now it’s time to purchase the right kind of shipping!

Important: Before you mail your note to the dealer, ask the dealer or grading service if they have insurance that covers shipments ADDRESSED TO THEM. Some dealers who regularly send and receive high value currency have insurance policies that will cover loss or damage of packages containing paper money during shipment. If they do have a policy, ask what type of mail service is required to have your note covered. In some cases, dealers require notes to be sent Express Mail or Registered Mail with signature required upon delivery. The less time the note is out floating around in the mail system, the better.

If they DO NOT have insurance on note shipments, follow our advice below.

United States Postal Service Shipping Advice

  1. Carefully seal your package personally and make sure it stays shut. Add extra tape on the outside if necessary.
  2. For notes valued up to $3,000: Ask the postal clerk for Express Mail Insured service. The insurance value is the amount of money the dealer has paid for the note. Express mail ships packages much faster and more securely than normal service. Don’t let them talk you into a different mailing method or promotion, even if it costs less. Express Mail Insured is the best way to go. If shipping costs are a concern, see if the dealer will chip in extra cash to assist with the mailing fees.

    Keep your receipt and most importantly the package’s tracking number. You can track the package at www.usps.com. Be sure to contact the dealer and advise him that the package has been sent and give them the tracking number as well, so they can monitor the shipment’s progress.

  3. For notes valued $3,001 or More: Ask the postal clerk for Registered Mail Insured service unless the dealer has instructed you to ship otherwise. Registered mail is the most secure method of mailing any item in the United States Postal Service. Each time the package moves from various post offices to distribution points, it is manually inventoried. A postal service worker must sign for the package each step of the way. Insure the package for the value of the transaction. If the value of your note exceeds the highest limit available offered by the USPS, call the dealer and ask them for advice about insuring the package before you send it off in the mail. The last thing you want to happen is to insure a $50,000 note for $10,000 and then find out the shipment was lost or stolen. Now you’re out $40,000!

    Keep your receipt and most importantly the package’s tracking number. You can track the package at www.usps.com. Be sure to contact the dealer and advise him that the package has been sent and give them the tracking number as well, so they can monitor the shipment’s progress.

Fedex, DHL, UPS, or other Express Parcel Service

  1. Carefully seal your package personally and make sure it stays shut. Add extra tape on the outside if necessary.
  2. Express services already send packages as fast as possible, so no need to request expedited service unless the currency dealer wants the note even quicker.
  3. Insure your package for the value of the transaction between you and the dealer. If the transaction value is higher than what is offered by the express service, call the currency dealer and ask them for advice before sending the note out. Sometimes people staffing drop-off points for express services are not always familiar with all the ways valuable packages can be sent. Your dealer will know exactly what type of service and insurance you’ll need.
  4. Keep the receipt from the express service and most importantly the tracking number. Major express services all have online tracking capabilities. Be sure to send your dealer the package’s tracking number as well so they can monitor the shipment’s progress.

That’s it, you’re done! Congratulations on selling your currency!

We realize our instructions for shipping paper money may seem long-winded and overly detailed, but we can’t emphasize enough how important proper note shipping procedures should be followed. It’s a rare event when a package containing a note is lost, stolen, or damaged, so you can rest assured that better than 9 out of 10 times, your note will make it to the dealer unscathed.

For particularly valuable notes, don’t leave anything to chance, especially when it comes to insuring the package. Yes, it costs more and might seem unnecessary, but if your note disappears or comes to the dealer banged up, you could be out a lot of money. Your options for legal recourse are limited if you fail to insure and/or mail a note properly.

Always ask dealers if they have a preferred method of receiving notes before sending off a shipment. Our procedure might be too much or not enough depending on the particular transaction value. Above all else, make sure everyone has the package tracking numbers once the note is in the mail!

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