6 Tips For Shipping Precious Metals Safely

24 set 2020 Sam Davis Sam Davis

Once you hand your package to the shipping company, you’re never really sure whether your package will reach its recipient or destination because there’s a lot of risks involved in cargo shipping. However, a lot has improved in maritime trade and cargo handling from the days of the Venetian traders. During those days, it was commonplace for cargo ships to be totally wrecked during long-distance voyages at sea. Insurance companies called this as early as then as ‘perils of the sea.’

Fortunately, there are no more pirates out at sea except in very chaotic places. But you still have to take extra precautions, especially if you’re shipping precious metals. You can find numerous sites like Oxford Gold and other similar sites, where you can buy gold and silver. After you’ve bought them, though, you still have to find a way to ship them to you safely. Thus, you have to keep in mind quite a number of things when you’re shipping gold coins or other precious metals. 

Here are a few tips on how you can ship precious metals safely:

1. Be Familiar With International Shipping Practices

Countries have different laws on international sales and shipping, as well as varying customs and trade policies. It’s for this reason that there ought to be international rules on carriage by sea and trade financing. The purpose of having these rules is to protect both the buyer and the seller in a legitimate transaction.

To have a better grasp of how to ship your precious metals properly, you have to understand at least the basic concepts of international maritime trade. These rudimentary concepts of international shipping aren’t only important to buyers and sellers. Other parties in international sales and shipping transactions also need to understand these concepts. These include shipowners, banks, insurance companies, receivers, stevedores, forwarders, shippers, and customs brokers.

2. Package Your Precious Metals Properly

Physically, you’ll have to make sure that your precious metals, such as physical gold bars, would be shipped safely by making sure they’re packaged properly. Shippers usually use lightweight corrugated cardboard to contain their items. This material is strong enough to bear the weight of your shipment and, at the same time, it’ll provide some cushion for your package.

If your package is going to contain some coins, make sure to put them inside a padded envelope and tape them together. This would prevent the envelope from moving and shifting inside the package while the ship is in transit. You should also insert a packing slip that has your and the recipient’s contact information. You can include a list of the contents of your package, too.

After packing your items inside this box, you should place them in a second box, which is one inch larger in diameter than the first box. Most shipping companies require that precious metals are packed in double-walled light corrugated boxes. This is a standard requirement among most shipping companies plying international routes in handling precious metals cargo. 

Furthermore, put some packing materials to fill the space between the first box and the second box. Most shippers place newspapers or bubble wrap to fill the gaps between the inner and the outer boxes. The purpose of this is to protect the precious metals. You wouldn’t want anyone to find out that there are precious metals or valuable items inside your package. This also helps prevent the metals from rattling, jingling, or making any inviting sounds while in transit. Anyone handling the box might just become curious or be tempted if they hear the rattle or jingle of the metal. 

Then, secure the second outer box by packing it with tape. Some people use filament tape or paper tape to secure the outside edges and seams of both the inside and the outside boxes. For additional security, you can use either filament or paper tape to reinforce the carton of the boxes while the cargo is in transit. 

Be sure to put package labels that have the correct address of the recipient on at least one side of the outer box. This way, the delivery crew won’t be confused about where it should go and to whom it should be handed. Don’t write anything outside the box since it would give anyone an idea of what the box contains.

3. Get Marine Insurance For Your Package

Whenever you ship gold or silver coins or other precious metals, make sure that you get the insurance that’s enough to compensate for their full value in case of loss at sea or at any time during the transit. If something terrible or unfortunate happens during transit, the insurance is your protection since you'll rest assured that you’ll at least be financially compensated for your loss. 

Some postal carriers offer and sell jewelry shipping insurance. But you should check the terms and conditions, especially the fine print, to make sure that they’re going to pay you for the full value of your precious metals in case of loss. There are also third-party companies that offer to provide shipping insurance. Some of them even specialize in providing insurance for precious metals, such as gold coins and collectible coins.  

When you’re shipping precious metals, freight insurance isn’t just another item in your bill of shipping expenses; freight insurance in shipping precious metals is really a necessity. The obvious reason why you need to have insurance coverage for your shipment of precious metals is that their intrinsic value is too high. If you lose even just a small amount of your shipment, you’re most likely looking at an enormous setback.

Take a look at rhodium, for instance. Rhodium isn’t as popular as gold, silver, platinum, nor other equally well-known metals. Yet rhodium is one of the most expensive precious metals based on recent market values–the price of rhodium is around USD$ 70,000. 

Of course, the more common examples are platinum and gold. A kilo of platinum is more than USD$26,000, while a kilo of gold is over USD$50,000. These are staggering values for such small quantities. Anyone who can take even just small quantities of these precious metals without being noticed and walk away would deal a huge blow to the shipment owner. Imagine the business losses if an entire shipment of platinum, gold, or rhodium is stolen at sea or lost during the voyage or transport.

4. Choose A Carrier You Can Trust

You should choose a carrier that you can trust–one that has an established name in the global shipping industry and in the international maritime trade. If you’re shipping internationally, select carriers and forwarding companies that have offices around the world. As much as possible, check and research customer reviews and feedback about their services. If the shipping company has had previous cases of lost items or undelivered packages, try to find out how the company handled these losses and how they compensated for the claims.

It’s highly possible that most shipping and forwarding companies have had one or a few cases of lost items or undelivered packages. This isn’t necessarily because of negligence on their part; it doesn’t follow that they were at fault when this happens. There are a lot of factors that could have led to the loss, some of which may be beyond the control of the shipping companies, like typhoons, storms, and other causes called perils of the sea.  

The important thing to find out is how the shipping company treated such losses and claims when they did in fact happen. How were the owners of the lost cargo treated by the shipping company? Were they fully compensated for their losses? Did they have a hard time filing and pressing for their claims for compensation? These are some of the questions you need to ask and get answers to. By doing so, you can get a sense of what kind of shipping company you’re dealing with. 

If you’re shipping large or highly valuable items in bulk or very large quantities, you can opt for the armored car service, which is a usual option for the commercial shipment of gold bars. There are shipping companies that offer this kind of special service. If the value of your shipment is at least USD$100,000 or even more, then maybe you should think of going for this kind of service. They’ll put your package inside an armored service vehicle, which will then be rolled into the cargo ship. A guard or several guards would usually travel with the vehicle during the sea voyage. 

5. Track Your Package 

Make sure that the shipping company you choose provides a way for you to track the progress of your package or cargo. Numerous shipping companies now provide a tracking number or transaction reference number. Using this number, you can go to a page on their website to track your package. They’ll usually send a message to the email you gave them containing the link to the tracking page. This is highly important in shipping precious metals because the voyage could take several days. In the meantime, track down your precious jewels.

Shipping companies use varying systems on their tracking sites. There are also companies that provide updates every now and then. Others provide more frequent updates on the progress of the voyage or the shipment of the cargo. Most would indicate whether the package or cargo is still in a transshipment hub or a parcel sorting warehouse or package distribution center.

6. Make Sure It’s Delivered

If at all possible, select a shipment company that would allow you to confirm and make sure that the intended recipient of your package has indeed received the package in good condition. Most shipping companies would require the recipient or their representative to sign as soon as they receive the item. 

There are also some shipping companies that offer a text messaging service. They’ll send you a message the moment that the intended recipient receives your package.

Convention On Common Control Marks (CCMs)

There’s an existing Convention on the Control and Marking of Articles of Precious Metals, which is an international treaty signed between states. This treaty is about regulating the cross-border trade of precious metals articles. It was signed in Vienna in November 1972 and entered into force in 1975. Shippers and traders often refer to its common name as the ‘Vienna Convention on Precious Metals’ or the ‘Hallmarking Convention’. 

The purpose of the Convention is to come up with a uniform set of rules to control the trade of precious metals. It aims to facilitate cross-border trade of precious metal articles between the states which signed the treaty. 

One of the key features of the Convention is that it provides a common set of technical requirements for an independent third party to verify the content of precious metals and articles. This is extremely important in the trade of precious metals to prevent fraud–there’s already a mechanism to determine which are authentic precious metals and which ones aren’t. 

States which signed the convention are bound to recognize the authenticity of precious metals since it's already been marked with the Convention’s ‘Common Control Mark.’ Precious metal items or articles, which have already received the CCM, can’t be required to go through additional control or marking.     

The CCM is basically a mark of conformity. It means that the precious metals have complied with the requirements of the Convention. Under the Convention, the national Assay Offices are required to test the precious metals according to agreed testing methods. These metals can be silver, gold, platinum, or palladium. After they’ve tested the fineness of the precious metals to be shipped, they can apply the CCM. The Assay Offices in each state will be designated under the Convention.

Final Words

In the olden times and even up to the present, shipping precious metals and articles is one of the most difficult things to do–the whole thing is fraught with danger. There’s always that danger that someone might discover the true contents of the treasure chest, and then steal your treasure chest of precious metals. 

Fortunately, there are now ways of safeguarding your shipment. First, you have to package them well, then you get insurance coverage for your items. Make sure that you get only a shipper that you can trust and would give you a way to track your shipment.  

Sam Davis is an international trade specialist. He has worked for customs brokers, shipping companies, and international traders for the past 20 years. He conducts training and webinars for various clients. He also writes blogs. When not talking or writing about shipping, Sam treks to the mountains during his free time.