One of the most unique aspects of purchasing silver online is the fact that your silver bullion will be shipped to you using a third party courier service. Given the high value of silver that can fit in any standard sized parcel, it is very important to know exactly who is shipping your goods, their delivery and tracking policies, and how the insurance works in case of loss or theft.
This article will review some of the most common shipping carriers used by gold and silver retailers, including UPS, Fedex, Brinks, and USPS, and also discuss packing, tracking, signature, and insurance considerations for each carrier.
UPS / Fedex
UPS and Fedex are currently the most popular shipping providers for gold and silver shipments over $500, and given they offer nearly identical services, we will cover them both in one section. Their speedy delivery, accurate tracking, and signature requirements make both an obvious choice for both sellers and buyers of physical silver bullion.
UPS and Fedex offer two primary shipping services: Ground and Air. Ground shipping is typically 2-5 business days domestically, while Air shipping is typically next business day domestically. Due to the weight of silver and the weight costs of Air shipping, most retailers exclusively ship via Ground when shipping silver bullion by UPS or Fedex.
Both companies offer full tracking all the way, and their scans display online in real time. Although UPS and Fedex themselves won’t insure silver bullion as per their user agreements, most retailers take out policies with third party insurers like Lloyd’s of London which covers all of their in transit packages against loss, damage, or theft.
Upon delivery, nearly all silver retailers require UPS and Fedex to obtain an “Adult Signature”, meaning a person over the age of 21 at the delivery address will have to sign to accept delivery. If no one is home, UPS / Fedex will attempt delivery twice more before holding 5 days for pickup, and ultimately returning to the sender.
The nicest aspect of UPS and Fedex are their nearly 0% loss rates for high value packages. All packages marked as “high values” are subject to special precautions, and are held under close watch from pickup to delivery. Many online silver dealers report 0 total losses all year from UPS and Fedex, which is truly remarkable considering they send 10s if not 100s of thousands of packages a year.
The USPS is another popular method of delivery for silver purchases, although we consider it less efficient and safe than UPS or Fedex. The USPS offers three primary delivery methods for silver purchases: Priority or First Class Mail for smaller shipments, and Registered Mail for more valuable shipments.
Priority or First Class Mail is typically only used for shipments at or under $500 in value, as the retailer has to self insure the package. USPS will not insure silver bullion unless you utilize Registered Mail, but the cost of Registered Mail is not worth it on smaller value packages, so most retailers just accept the risk themselves.
Registered Mail is the most secure option USPS offers, as your package undergoes special precautions in transit and is held under lock and key at each stop. All packages must be completely sealed with water-adhesive tape, so any breaks in the package are evident immediately.
The only downsides of Registered Mail is that the tracking is a bit spotty, and it typically takes 5-10 business days to arrive due to the special precautions. Registered Mail does specifically include bullion in its list of approved insurable items, so retailers can pass the risk on to USPS up to $25,000 in value.
Brinks is a security specialist that provides logistics and insurance for high value items. Brinks has been in business for over 150 years, and currently maintains over 400 armored vehicles on the road with 70,000 employees.
Although the media likes to portray gold and silver moving by armored car in movies and such, in reality it is rarely the case for an end consumer. Silver retailers will ship up to $500,000 by UPS or Fedex, so it is only the largest of purchases that need to go by armored truck.
Should you actually purchase more than $500,000 worth of silver, you’ll likely need to accept delivery at a commercial address by Brinks. This is the safest shipping method available, as nothing short of a heavily armed attack on the truck would put your silver at risk.
Brinks offers customers full tracking and peace of mind at all stops, but is likely overkill for 99.9% of online silver purchases.