Tips to Safely Mail a Camera

When Your Camera Needs Repair, Learn How to Send It Safely

How to Mail a Camera
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Whenever I open a box containing a new camera, which I do several times a year when reviewing cameras, I'm always impressed by how tightly the manufacturer packs the camera and components into the box. Everything has a particular place and it all fits tightly. It becomes even more impressive when I try to repack the box to return the camera to the manufacturer, because I can never quite make the box look as neatly packed, as I can't quite remember where everything goes.

It's almost like a game of Tetris, and I lose every time.

Whether it's a new or used model, packing a camera safely can be a challenge. If you ever need to send in your camera for repair, it's important that you don't cause additional problems with your camera by packing it poorly before you place it in the mail. Use these tips to mail a camera as safely as possible.

  • Remove your memory card. The repair center should not need your memory card, and the center should have some spare cards it can use for testing purposes.
  • Remove the battery. Remove the battery from the camera, as it's safer to transport the camera without the battery installed. However, ship the battery to the repair center with the camera.
  • Shoot a photo of the damaged camera. If your camera has physical damage -- and if you have another camera available -- take a photo of the damage. Compare it to the fixed camera upon its return, and you then can be sure the damage was fixed.
  • Copy the serial number. If your camera has a serial number, make sure you've written it down at home. It's doubtful that the camera repair company would try to switch your camera with a different one of the same model, but, as long as you have the serial number written down at home, you won't have to worry about it.
  • Place an information card in the box. Include your name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. In addition, include any work order number that the repair center has given you. You may want to include a written description of the problem and the camera's model name and serial number.
  • Use a sturdy box. Make use of strong cardboard, with no creases and no tears.
  • Use plenty of packing material. Many kinds of packing will work for a camera, but foam and bubble wrap are the best materials. Pack the camera tightly inside the material and pack the box full, so the camera cannot jostle around as the box is transported. If bubble wrap or foam is not available, you can use newspaper or cardboard. Again, just make sure the camera is packed tightly. To test your packing material, close the box and gently shake it. If you can hear the camera moving around, you need to pack everything tighter.
  • Use strong packing tape. Tape all of the seams of the box with tape designed specifically for sealing boxes, preferably a strong packing tape. Don't use string, masking tape, or cellophane tape.
  • Label the box. I'm not sure how much good it does, but it can't hurt to mark the box as fragile.
  • Buy insurance and other extras. Depending on the value of your camera, you may want to purchase insurance for your package, and you may want to make sure you can track the movement of the package. Such features may cost a little extra, though.
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