Using the correct packaging will ensure your parcels are well protected and secured during shipping, but there’s one other important item that you need to include so that it reaches the right destination – a clear and correct address label is essential for any shipment.
Whether you’re shipping parcels up and down the UK or overseas, having the right labels will mean that it’s handled correctly at all stages of its journey; minimising damage, passing through customs smoothly, and reaching its destination on time.
When it comes to labelling your parcels there are a multitude of options available from simple handling instructions, indicators, and hazard warnings to sealed document envelopes. Below we’ll take you through the main types of packaging labels available and offer some tips on what you’ll need if you’re shipping abroad including how to apply labels to your parcels.
Shipping Nationally & Internationally
Depending on your parcel’s final destination there are different types of forms that you’ll need to include to ensure it gets through customs smoothly.
If you’re sending within the UK…
Post as normal – include the destination name and address, and a commercial invoice with details of the order and the sender’s name and address.
If you’re sending within the EU…
It’s just like shipping in the UK as we’re still part of the single market. There will be no customs charges and no special customs documents are needed.
If you’re sending to the rest of the world…
Then your parcel will pass through customs and you’ll need to include a completed customs form. There might also be additional import charges to pay based on the information you include on the form.
There are two different forms depending on the value of the items you are sending:
- Up to £270, you’ll need a Customs Declaration Form CN22 (signed & dated).
- Over £270, you’ll need a Customs Declaration Form CN23 (fully completed).
You can find the forms you’ll need and more useful information on shipping internationally on the Royal Mail website.
Where Should Labels Be Placed?
If you’re including handling instructions on your parcel, such as ‘This way up’ or ‘Handle with care’, then placing these on several sides will ensure that they’re not missed and that it’s clear to everyone who handles your shipment. Finally, avoid placing labels over a seam or closure of your parcel, such as on the top along the sealing tape. Always position labels on the largest surface of the package you are shipping. For a small jiffy bag or envelope this will be on the front face of the package. If you’re shipping a box, then the largest side of the box, which is usually the front face.
The Types of Packaging Labels Available
Below, we’ve detailed an overview of the main packaging labels available for your shipment. Combined with high quality packaging, the correct labelling will ensure your parcel reaches its intended destination in one piece and on time.
Documents Enclosed Envelopes & Labels
Wherever your parcel is going you must ensure all paperwork is included at every stage of its journey. A Documents enclosed envelope label will keep all those important details safe and dry during shipping, such as the address details and your customer’s invoice.
These envelope labels feature a full adhesive backing to stick firmly to parcels and are transparent so that the delivery address can clearly be seen on the front. Once the paperwork is folded and tucked in, they seal tight so that everything inside is kept safe. They should be included on every large parcel you ship to your customers, so always ensure you are well stocked with these envelopes.
At Rajapack, they are available in four different sizes from 115mm x 100mm right up to 315m x 225mm for larger parcels. All feature a clear address window, so the paperwork is visible to everyone that handles your parcel on its journey.
Eco-friendly documents enclosed labels are also available for businesses that wish to minimise their impact on the environment. Choose green documents enclosed labels which are made from 60% recycled materials and feature a green message.
For larger operations envelope dispensers are ideal if you’re sending a lot of parcels. These heavy-duty dispensers use rolls of up to 330 labels and can be secured to a work surface for quick and easy dispensing.
Handling Instruction Labels
Handling instruction labels include clear instructions on a parcel such as ‘Fragile’, ‘This end up’ and ‘Do not bend’. If your package needs these special instructions, then adding these labels will ensure everyone who encounters your parcel knows how to handle it correctly.Once you’ve included the correct paperwork with your parcel, you should consider adding handling labels to provide clear handling instructions to anyone who will be shipping your parcel.
Handling instruction labels come in 8 different messages:
- Handle with care
- Open with care
- This end up
- ‘This way up’ arrow image
- Do not crush
- Do not bend
- Documents Enclosed
- Caution Heavy
Fragile labels are also available for parcels that are delicate and need to be handled very carefully, such as glass or ceramics.
If your parcel includes anything that could be considered hazardous such as flammable gas, flammable liquid, corrosive or toxic chemicals, then hazard labels should be also added. This helps couriers to ensure that your package is stored and transported safely, and that no accidents could occur because of mishandling.
Highly visible, each hazard label features a pictogram with a hazard statement to clearly state the nature of the package’s contents and how it should be treated.
If you’re not sure if your parcel needs a hazard label, the Health & Safety Executive offer information about the labelling and packaging of hazardous materials, with further advice offered by the European Chemical Agency about when these labels are required.
For items that are sensitive to static electricity, being dropped or handled roughly or being tilted during shipping, there’s a range of labels that can provide protection for sensitive shipments.
Shockwatch and Tiltwatch labels are both indicator labels. They stick to wood, cardboard or plastic, are resistant to moisture and suitable for exporting overseas. If your parcel has been tilted or suffered a high impact during shipping then they will let your recipient know immediately on delivery.
Shockwatch labels feature a small glass tube that turns red and stays red if dropped or handled roughly. Tiltwatch labels permanently show red if the product has been tilted over 90 degrees. Both labels provide an instant way to identify if your parcel has been mishandled during transport, so you can easily identify the responsible party in the event of a complaint.
Finally, for sensitive electronic equipment such as circuit boards, computer equipment or mobile devices, apply an antistatic packaging label on your parcel (combined with antistatic protective bags) to make it clear that your parcel is sensitive to static electricity and must be handled as such.
If you’re sending smaller packages such as mailing bags, envelopes or bubble mailers you might not need to include a full documents enclosed envelope label. Simple address labels which detail the recipient’s address and the return address for the sender might be all you need. A postage label is ideal for use here and can be quickly and easily printed off from a normal inkjet or laserjet printer.
Avery have been printing labels since 1937, and their laser and inkjet labels come in fully perforated sheets made from FSC certified paper with an eco-friendly, water based permanent adhesive for easy application. They can be printed from practically any computer once you’ve installed their free design & print software, allowing you to set up and save personalised label templates, or generate labels from excel databases such as mailing lists.
For convenience, thermal labels are excellent – they lightly burn information directly onto thermal paper for long lasting labels which require no ink, meaning less to spend on printing supplies.
They’re perfect for an office desk or small packaging operation with their small and compact size, but don’t be fooled, these little printers can run off large volumes of labels – up to 71 per minute from the Dymo LabelWriter 450.
They connect straight to a PC or Mac and come with free printing software so you can quickly get set up.
Printing labels up to 100mm in size means you can use thermal labels for almost anything; from postal addresses, shipping or mailing labels to pricing stickers & product labels, including barcodes and graphics. Thermal printers offer excellent speed, convenience and simplicity in a small but powerful labelling solution that’s cost effective – the only supplies you’ll need are the thermal labels.
If you’re not sure what packaging labels you need, or are looking for advice on labelling your shipments correctly please get in touch with our Packaging Experts. Call us free on 0800 542 44 28 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.