Are Board Games Media Mail? No. Heres Why

It can be tempting to send a board game by mail due to the reduced cost of shipping. but board games are multimedia mail?

Board games are not considered multimedia mail. media mail was created to encourage people to send educational materials by mail. a board game provides entertainment and is not on the list of allowed media, so it does not qualify for media mailing.

Twilight Imperium mail box

Twilight Imperium board game in a cardboard box for mailing – but not via Media Mail!

You may have heard people saying they regularly send board games via Media Mail and have had no problems. While some sellers may have had no issues, it doesn’t mean that you won’t.

What if you sell educational entertainment or educational games? do they qualify for media mail? Read on to find out.

why isn’t a board game considered multimedia mail?

media mail was created in 1938 to help schools and libraries send educational media by mail at a reduced cost. Back in 1938, this meant books. thus the media mail became known as the “book fee”.

As technology has advanced, so has multimedia mail. The category was expanded to include movies and music on DVD and CD, but only if they contain educational content.

This is a quote from a USPS customer support ruling updated July 2018 that clearly states that table games are not multimedia mail.

While video games can be read on computers, unlike books or movies eligible for media mail prices, which primarily serve educational or informational purposes, games, including board gamesand games in electronic format, are used primarily for entertainment and do not serve the same purpose as books, movies, or other qualified media mail.

what is and is not classified as multimedia mail?

Media Mail includes media in the following categories, but only if the media is for educational purposes. Definitions below are from the USPS website.

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classified as multimedia mail

  • books (at least 8 pages).
  • sound recordings and video recordings, such as cds and dvds.
  • scripts and manuscripts for books, periodicals, and music .
  • printed music.
  • computer-readable media containing pre-recorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media.
  • sixteen movies millimeters or less in width.
  • printed objective test materials and their accessories.
  • printed educational reference charts.
  • loose-leaf pages and their binders that consist of medical information for distribution to physicians, hospitals, medical schools, and medical students.

not classified as multimedia mail

  • game cartridges or game consoles (for example, playstation or nintendo game consoles and video game cartridges) that contain a computer chip.
  • blank media such as blank cds, dvds, audio tapes, and/or video tapes.
  • advertising video tapes (movie trailers are not considered advertising).
  • photographs or photo albums.
  • trading cards, such as sports and hobby cards.
  • films shipped to or from commercial theaters.

You can read complete and expanded definitions of multimedia mail on the USPS website.

excluding business cards and hobby cards is particularly interesting. that would exclude magic: the meeting. If magic doesn’t count, I’d say a board game doesn’t either. both are games, not media.

how do i know if my board game qualifies as multimedia mail?

Ask yourself these two questions to find out if something qualifies as multimedia mail.

  1. Is the item for educational purposes?
  2. Is the item one of the USPS allowed multimedia mail categories?

Let’s take an example.

Suppose you want to send some old board games to a university researcher for study and analysis. Although the reason you are submitting the board games is educational, the board games themselves are not on the allowed content list. therefore board games do not qualify for media mail.

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Can an educational board game be sent by post?

An educational board game cannot be sent as a multimedia mail for two reasons.

  1. board games are not one of the types of media that can be sent via media mail
  2. educational board games provide some entertainment, even if the player is learning by learning Same time.

Say I wanted to send the co2 board game. it is educational because it raises awareness about the problems of global warming. however, it is still a board game. and board games are not a category that is allowed to ship through usps. so it does not qualify for media mailing.

what can happen if you send a board game by post?

Your local post office can open anything sent by postal mail. They will inspect the package to confirm that it qualifies as media mail.

The official guidelines say that:

Any packages containing material not eligible for media mail rates will be returned to sender with a possible fine and other postal charges included.

however, this is not always the case. sometimes packages continue to their destination and the recipient is asked to collect the charges on their behalf.

should board games be sent via multimedia mail?

It’s completely up to you if you want to take the risk. I wouldn’t. Board games aren’t average. they are games

Imagine you send a board game via multimedia mail. For starters, it will take longer to arrive than standard mail because it has a lower priority. then one of three things could happen.

  1. no one checks the package and it is sent to your customer. you save a little money.
  2. The package is reviewed, determined to be ineligible and returned to you with charges and possibly a fine. you have to pay the additional costs and there is a delay in receiving your table game from your customer.
  3. package is reviewed, found to be non-qualifying, and shipped to your customer. your customer receives his board game later than promised, it has been opened and has charges attached. you have a dissatisfied customer, you have to refund the charges anyway, and you’ll probably get negative feedback.
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Does saving a little cash in option 1 offset the impact of option 3? not for me.

If you’d like to try shipping a board game via media mail, take it to your local post office and ask if it qualifies. I think they will say no.

are rpg books considered multimedia mail?

books are considered multimedia mail as long as they do not contain advertising. This includes role-playing games and fiction novels because the USPS considers any reading to be educational. comic books don’t qualify because they usually contain ads.

conclusion: board games do not qualify for multimedia mail

board games are definitely not considered multimedia mail. I don’t think it’s worth trying. just send them normally and pay the correct postage.

if you sell old games, you can always donate them. I did this recently and wrote some suggestions on where to donate vintage board games.

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