The best and safest way to ship Gold & Silver Bullion is by using the United States Postal Service’s Registered Mail service.
Why Registered Mail?
USPS Registered Mail offers the pinnacle of both safety and insurance. In fact, you can get up to $25,000.00 of insurance per Registered Mail parcel.
With FedEx or UPS, they do not offer insurance for precious metals and unless you are a precious metals dealer with a 3rd party insurance policy, you’ll want to stick with USPS Registered Mail when mailing your gold and silver bullion.
Why is Registered Mail so effective?
Registered Mail uses a “Chain of Custody” process providing end-to-end security in locked containers.
This means when a post office agent hands a Registered Mail parcel off to another agent, they literally sign off documenting transfer of custody. This legally documents a parcel’s custody transfer beginning with your shipping it… all the way to the adult signature required upon your parcel’s safe delivery.
In my experience in the bullion industry delivering millions of ounces to customer’s doors and non-bank vault accounts, USPS Registered Mail is better than 99.99% effective.
Registered Mail is used by the diamond industry and for mailing U.S. government classified information of up to the 2nd-highest classification level of “secret”.
Each USPS agent who takes custody of Registered Mail parcels is on the hook for it literally.
If a Registered Mail parcel goes missing, a U.S. Post Master Inspector investigates and interrogates the chain of custody for the missing or damaged parcel. If a USPS agent is found to have committed Mail Fraud, they can lose their entire pension.
Thus your Registered Mail parcel’s safe journey to its final destination is in the direct, mutual best interest of every Post Office employee who takes control and care for its delivery (as their retirement pension possibly hangs in the balance).
Personally in the spring of 2012, I had two parcels shipped to me by Registered Mail out of New York City. Specifically the parcels each separately contained a Mint Case of Silver Eagle Coins (500 ounces each). I was definitely looking forward to receiving them and was happy when I got the tracking information from the bonded warehouse they were shipped from. Then three weeks went by with no delivery.
Now I knew Registered Mail is slower than other forms of shipment and this is mainly due to the high amount of security and paperwork required in transit. But this was taking too long, my intuition told me something was off. Any USPS Registered Mail coming from New York to Los Angeles should take no longer than 12 business days tops.
I kept checking the tracking online to see where it was. Now I knew my stuff, so I wasn’t extremely worried since both parcels were fully insured for their values. Still as you may imagine, I preferred to have my metals safely delivered instead of having to go through the rigmarole of getting their fiat values paid to me in U.S. dollars months later by the USPS Registered Mail insurance plan.
A month had gone by, so I decided to email a contact I have at the Postmaster General’s office. They got on the case right away and surprise, surprise!
Within three days of my contacting the Postmaster General’s office, my two parcels magically appeared at the Santa Monica post office fully in tact.
Know that Registered Mail must be sent with a Proof of Mailing, which requires a trip to your local Post Office. Also, you’re going to need a few special items to ship USPS Registered Mail:
You will need Postal Service Form 3806, which you can get for free at your local USPS office.
You should double box your bullion shipments; therefore you will want to get not only 1 box, but 2 boxes for your gold or silver bullion pieces. One box should be able to fit inside the other. Double boxing ensures less of a chance the parcel will be tampered with or breaking open if it is accidentally dropped.
You will need 1″ wide filament tape to seal the interior and exterior creases of your boxes and to tape shut any and all coin tubes you may be shipping.
I suggest you also use crumpled paper or Styrofoam peanuts to fill the empty space between coin tubes and their lids (to reduce potential noises and coin jingling when in transit).
Before sealing your parcel, you will want to provide a Packing Slip inside your parcel identifying where and to whom you are shipping it to, as well identifying who you are, your return address, and the specific contents identifying every piece of bullion contained in that specific parcel. You may also want to provide any contract number or additional information on your Pack Slip to help differentiate your bullion upon its safe delivery to its destination.
With USPS Registered Mail, you must use 3″ wide paper gummed tape to tamperproof and seal the outer edges of your parcel.
Remember we want our packages to be quiet and make no noise when it moves, so wrap your bullion bars with lots of newspaper or bubble wrap. Put crumpled up newspaper or a Styrofoam peanut between your coin and tube top and then tape the tube and top down using 1″ filament tape.
Use nondescript language on the outside of the parcel. Use only obtuse identifiers or abbreviations instead of obvious terms like coin, bullion, gold, silver, etc.
Often well meaning Post Office employees will try to save shippers money and suggest Insured Mail on shipments valued less than $5,000. Do not let them talk you out of using Registered Mail. The small savings they may be trying to offer you could cost you everything.
Why is this such a threat? Because the USPS has a small clause in their insurance policy stating that they will not honor insurance for lost precious metals unless they are shipped by REGISTERED MAIL.
Registered Mail is the soundest method of protecting your bullion from mail fraud or theft and within the USA, it is the best way for the average citizen to ship their gold or silver bullion.
The last article in our Beginners’ Guide to Buying Physical Bullion wraps up the investing guide and provides key takeaways.