A cardboard box has all four flaps open and is stuffed with frozen corn, chicken and other frozen food getting ready to be packed and shipped in the mail.

How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out

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Packaging, as well as shipping frozen food/ items, can be extra demanding. Knowing how to ship frozen food properly is a significant part of a food business. As the seller/business owner, it is your job to make sure that your products will arrive at the customer’s location in excellent condition. Non-perishable goods are quite easy to pack and ship, while frozen products are a bit challenging. Missing just one minor detail in packaging and shipping may cause the product to spoil or get contaminated.  The difference between fresh products and spoiled products is just a couple of degrees. You also need to be aware of the common packaging mistakes so your business doesn’t suffer from losses that can be prevented.

How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food In the Mail Without it Thawing Out

In shipping frozen food products, the packaging is extremely important.  The main goal when shipping a product is for it to reach its destination as fresh as the day they were made or harvested. 

One of the many challenges when it comes to shipping frozen food is extreme temperatures. Frozen foods that are not well-packed when exposed to a higher temperature may melt and get spoiled. Temperature-sensitive food such as seafood, meat, and the like needs temperature and time control for safety. Proper insulation and refrigeration is the solution to maintaining the freshness of food shipments.

Most shipping companies provide guidelines on how to do this properly. It’s best that you search for the packing pointers page on their website. This way, you know that you’re adhering to the correct guidelines, or your shipment would be declined by the shipping company, which would be unfortunate. This can result in a delay in the arrival of the products your customers ordered.


Is it really possible to send food in the mail? Yes, but it is essential to ship it properly. Doing it incorrectly may cause the food to spoil and be unsafe to eat. There is a lot to consider when shipping a product through the mail. Your main goal is for the product to be delivered to your client in excellent condition.

How much does it cost on average to ship frozen food in the mail?

Shipping frozen food has no fixed price since it depends on various factors. When shipping frozen products, you have to consider the weight of your packaging, distance from your location, transport, and more. An average of $5-7 shipping fee for light parcels (up to 1lb) is being charged when shipped through USPS.

How to Ship Frozen Food using either USPS, UPS & FedEx

sealed box of frozen food How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out Food Preservation how to ship frozen food

Shipping food items, especially cold or frozen food is quite risky. You need to be sure that the items will arrive fresh and well-maintained to their destination. It is essential to have a better knowledge of how to ship the goods properly when you are in the food industry. Further, it is of utmost importance to look for a trustworthy shipping company to transport your frozen products.  The United States Postal Services (USPS), United Parcel Services (UPS), and Federal Express Corporation are three of the most popular and trusted logistics and shipping companies in the United States and even worldwide.

Shipping Frozen Food Via USPS

United States Postal Services is an agency that provides postal services. USPS is well-known when it comes to shipping services. 

In choosing USPS as your shipping service provider, you must understand the following guidelines in shipping

  • USPS does not provide nor offer services on packaging (refrigeration) of frozen products;
  • Make sure that your product has sufficient cooling material to keep it fresh. When using dry ice, choose Class 9 DOT since it specifies warning labels for miscellaneous hazardous material. Further, clearly mark the box “dry ice”; 
  • Make sure to pack your products properly to avoid leakage and unwanted odor;
  • For International shipping, dry ice is prohibited. You may use gel packs instead;
  • Clearly specify the product contained in your shipment along with the net weight of your cooling material (e.g dry ice). A maximum of 5 pounds of dry ice is allowed per parcel;
  • USPS recommends the use of a thick polystyrene box instead of Styrofoam coolers; and 
  • Include the name and address of the sender and the recipient.

USPS types of mail services:

Mail TypeDescriptionShip Time
Priority Mail ExpressThis mail service is the fastest domestic delivery service. It includes $100 insurance if the parcel gets lost or spoiled in transit. It also offers a money-back guarantee if the parcel did not arrive on timeNext day to 2 day guaranteed by 6pm
Priority MailThis is the bestselling USPS mail service. It includes up to $50 insurance which is applicable to most packages1 to 3 days
First Class Package ServiceIs an inexpensive mail service for envelopes and small boxes no more than 3oz.1 to 3 days
Media MailThis mail service has requirements on the type of media to be sent.2 to 8 days
USPS Retail GroundIt is a mail service catering to less urgent and large packages. It ships packages up to 70 lbs.2 to 8 days

Shipping Frozen Food With UPS

UPS or the Universal Parcel Services provides freight forwarding, logistics services, and courier express.  It is considered as one of the biggest shipping companies not just in the United States but in the whole world.

Following are the basic guidelines in shipping frozen food with UPS:

  • UPS Next Day Air delivery is perfect in shipping frozen goods to avoid getting spoiled when shipped in a longer duration;
  • Aside from the plastic bag that the shipper will use with the products, it is also required to us a thick plastic liner to avoid leakage;
  • Thick insulated foam containers are recommended to be used to keep the package fresh and the temperature maintained;
  • Frozen water is not recommended in packaging. The shipper may use dry ice, instead;
  • Use gel packs or dry ice to keep your products fresh in transit. When using dry ice, separate it from the food products since it is considered a hazardous material. Further, use gloves when holding dry ice to avoid burns. Make sure to understand the restrictions indicated in the IATA regulations in using dry ice as cooling material; and
  • Make sure that the box is well-padded inside to avoid movement of the items; 

The shipper may monitor and track 25 shipments at a time through UPS Tracking.

Oftentimes, UPS shipping fee is quite more expensive than USPS because of its surcharges. However, in shipping larger and heavier packages, UPS can be a better option because it is designed to ship larger packages worldwide.  In calculating the UPS shipping rates, indicate your postal code, view your shipping rate, and take note of the additional charges such as fuel surcharges. 

Ice pack frozen food How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out Food Preservation how to ship frozen food

Below are some of the services that UPS offers:

Type of ServiceDescriptionDelivery Time
UPS Express CriticalIt is the fastest shipping service of UPS. This service is available the whole year, 24/7.Less than 24 hours
UPS Next Day AirPackages are being delivered on the next business day1 day
UPS GroundThis service is the most affordable shipping service that UPS offers. Though it is quite inexpensive, it is not good for perishable products such as frozen goods because of its delivery time6 days
UPS 3-Day SelectThis service is practical for packages that are not so urgent5 days

 Shipping Frozen Food By FedEx

FedEx Corporation is another popular and well-established company when it comes to delivery services. It is an excellent option for shipping frozen food products. 

Below listed are the basic guidelines in shipping with FedEx:

  • FedEx provides services on packaging frozen products. It uses a chilling unit placed in the container with the product;
  • For US shipments, perishable packages need to survive the 24-hour minimum transit time;
  • A minimum of 4 cm -thick walls for insulated foam containers is recommended for use; and
  • Make sure to label your package properly when shipping using dry ice

Below are the delivery services that FedEx offers:

Type of ServiceDescriptionDelivery Time
FedEx First OvernightAvailable for packages not more than 50lbs. This service is ideal if your shipment needs to be received by your client at 8:30 a.m., the next dayNext day (8:30am earliest)
FedEx Priority OvernightPackages which will be delivered the next business day Next day (10:30am earliest)
FedEx Standard OvernightService is available in all 50 states. Delivery commitment next business day at 3:00pm for business addresses and 8:00pm on residencesNext business day
FedEx 2 Day A.M.The client will get the delivery in 2 business days. Packages may include lab samples, urgent documents, and perishable goods2 business days
FedEx Express SaverA cost-efficient way to ship products. Available in all states except Hawaii3 business days

Packaging services are not included in the shipping rate. FedEx is offering it with an additional charge.

How to Pack and Ship Frozen Goods so It Stays Frozen 

Frozen Food Wrapped in Newspaper How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out Food Preservation how to ship frozen food

Keeping the frozen food fresh until it reaches its destination is the goal of every shipper. However, doing it entails a lot of work. As the seller, you have to understand the risk of shipping frozen goods. You should have enough knowledge on how to properly store, pack and ship your product. In packing your products, you have to choose an effective coolant, cold insulation, and shipping container. Doing research and asking other business owners can be helpful in getting ideas on how to pack and ship your products properly. 

Below listed are some ideas in packaging to keep in mind to keep frozen goods fresh while in transit:

  • Using dry ice in packaging is the best;
  • Styrofoam is a good insulating container;
  • To maintain the temperature inside the container, use cardboard boxes with box liners
  • In choosing a container, consider the space for the dry ice and box liners. 

Choosing A Shipping Container

Shipping frozen food products is a work that needs maximum attention to every detail. Packing the goods properly plays a huge role to keep the frozen food fresh and free from contamination. Choosing an ideal shipping container is very important in packaging the goods properly.

Here are some tips on how to choose a good container for shipping:

  • List all the products (including the coolants and liners) you will put in the container to find the size that fits. 
  • Use the type of container for specific purpose. 
  • Check the condition of the container before buying it. For used containers, consider the time that it had been used and check if there are minor damages that may compromise the freshness of your products

When shipping frozen food, it is best to use the following containers to keep the products fresh up to its destination:

Select Appropriate Cold Insulation 

frozen food insulation How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out Food Preservation how to ship frozen food

Choosing the proper packaging in shipping frozen goods may definitely save every food business owner from stress and loss. 

Choosing the appropriate padding or cold insulation to your products is one of the most important factors to consider when packing. These insulation materials maintain the internal temperature of the container for the duration of the shipping. 

Here are some types of cold insulation:

  • Polystyrenes are effective cold insulation for moderate temperature. It is good for short up to medium period  (48 hours max)
  • Polyurethane can be use for moderate to extreme temperature. It is ideal for medium to long duration (48 to 96 hours)
  • Vacuum insulated panels are more efficient than other usual insulating materials. These are required for long durations (96 hours and over) and can withstand moderate to extreme temperature 

 Types of Freezer Packs for Shipping

insulated frozen food How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out Food Preservation how to ship frozen food

Choosing the appropriate cold packs for your frozen products can help you greatly in your food shipping business. It is true that you can just buy or made cold packs, but ice packs ideal for commercial shipping is made up of heavy-duty materials that can definitely save your products from being spoiled and contaminated.

Purchasing a high-quality pack may cost your business more in the present, but this will guarantee the satisfaction of your customers. In other words, spending a little more on this can have great returns in the long run.

Below are some of the Freezer/Ice Packs for Shipping:

  • Standard Ice Packs are perfect for commercial shipping since they are designed to keep their temperature for a long period of time. These packs are reliable. However, they can be used once or twice.
  • Reusable Ice Packs can be used in commercial shipping to keep perishable items fresh in a container. These ice packs can be used repeatedly for years. 
  • Gel Packs are gel refrigerant that makes the product cold in just a matter of time. Gel packs are reusable but not ideal for commercial use or shipping since the gel gets warm quickly compared to other ice packs. Gel packs can only last from 12-36 hours, depending on the quality of container. Gel packs are dangerous when ingested so it is not safe to be used for food and beverages.
  • Instant Cold Packs deliver a quick cold therapy. These packs are made up of a small bag of water placed inside a larger bag full of chemical that reacts to the water. These packs are usually being used as first aid to minor injuries. Instant cold packs is not ideal for shipping frozen products since it won’t keep the frozen food cold for too long.
  • Dry Ice Packs are specially made to maintain the temperature inside the container for extended number of hours. They can be use longer than other cold packs. Dry ice packs are considered one of the best cold packs used for commercial shipping.

How long do ice packs last before thawing?

Ice packs keep the container cold without hassle unlike when using cubed ice. These ice packs are mostly made up of non-toxic materials so it is safe to use for food packages. Ice packs last for 24-36 hours in an insulated container and about 3-4 hours at room temperature.

Is dry ice needed to ship frozen food?

Dry ice is an effective and economical way of shipping frozen food.  It is a very popular cooling agent because of its many practical uses. Keeping frozen products fresh during shipping is very important for business owners. Using coolants such as dry ice is really important in food. However, in choosing dry ice as a coolant, it is essential to understand the restrictions that go with it. 

Dry ice can be very useful in maintaining the temperature of frozen goods, but if not handled correctly, it can be pretty hazardous. It can cause burning of the skin, and the gas vapor can cause an explosion if not allowed to vent correctly. Wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in handling this coolant is crucial. Buying from a trusted source can also save you a lot of trouble. 
You also need to know when to use it because not all frozen food may require dry ice. If used incorrectly, it might cause over-freezing or freezer burns—the same thing that happens to meat when left in the freezer for too long. This would adversely affect the quality of your products.

How long does dry ice last for shipping?

Dry ice is very useful to keep food products, especially the frozen ones fresh up to their destination. It is considered as a super cooling agent because of its many uses. The average duration for domestic shipping of frozen food in the United States is 24 hours. Five (5) to ten (10) pounds of dry ice is estimated to sublimate in 24 hours. Hence, to keep the products fresh in transit, the seller should ensure that the amount of cooling material in the shipment is enough. Further, the seller should also consider the type of insulating container to use. The thinner the container, the faster sublimation will occur.

A box sits on a table full of frozen food, ice packs, and newspaper to use for insulation for shipping in the mail.

Package Your Items Properly to keep them frozen

Packaging your food product properly is an investment. As the business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your shipped products are fresh until your client receives them. Choose the ideal container, insulation materials, cooling, and freezing packs to avoid hassle while the product is in transit. 

Here are some guidelines when packing frozen food for shipping:

  • Use ideal insulation material that can maintain the temperature inside the container to keep the products fresh until it reaches the client;
  • Use watertight plastic when shipping products that are prone to leaking;
  • For seafood shipping, always make sure to pack it twice to protect it from extreme temperature;
  • Use corrugated cardboard boxes as insulating materials;
  • Always leave a space in the container for the dry ice. Put sufficient amount of dry ice to maintain the temperature inside the container;
  • Use a specific shipping container ideal for your products; and
  • Choose a shipping company that offers various options in shipping frozen food products

Seal Your Box and Head To The Mail Carrier Of Your Choice Immediately!

addressed frozen food box How to Pack & Ship Frozen Food in the Mail Without it Thawing Out Food Preservation how to ship frozen food

Every second counts when shipping frozen food products. Every detail needs full attention. If even one minor detail is overlooked and your food products’ quality will be compromised. 

After making sure that you have packed your food products properly and in accordance with the shipping company’s guidelines, you have to hurry up and deliver it to your service provider. In sealing your box, make sure that all the openings are well-sealed. A small opening to your box may greatly affect the temperature inside your box.

Shipping Frozen Food, and keeping it Frozen until it reaches its destination is entirely possible when you take the time to pack and insulate accordingly. 

Having sufficient knowledge of the proper packaging and shipping of frozen food is really essential to food business owners. When you choose this kind of business, your client’s safety is of utmost importance. 

A cardboard box has all four flaps open and is stuffed with frozen corn, chicken and other frozen food getting ready to be packed and shipped in the mail.

How To Ship Frozen Food

Shipping frozen food is a time sensitive matter, using the proper insulation, and packing you can get your food from point a to b without thawing out.
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Author Jackie Sterling
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes


  • 1 Insulated Box
  • Newpaper/Butcher Paper
  • 4+ Dry Ice Packs


  • Wrap frozen food in newspaper or butcher paper.
    Frozen corn lays on top of newspaper acting as insulation for frozen food. A Box sits next to it with a freezer ice pack getting ready to get shipped.
  • Get your cardboard box with an insulated box liner add an ice pack to the bottom of the box. Place a layer of food on top of your ice pack, add an ice pack to the middle and layer additional food on top of it
    Frozen corn lay half wrapped in newspaper in an attempt to keep it frozen on a table. Next to the corn is a box that is lined with paper and an ice pack designed to keep the corn frozen while shipping.
  • Pack as may ice packs as you can fit in the box around the food, including the sides.
    A medium size box is open with all four flaps splayed out. Inside the box is frozen food wrapped in newspaper to help insulate it during the shipping process.
  • Finish with an ice pack on top before sealing the box.
    A box sits on a table full of frozen food, ice packs, and newspaper to use for insulation for shipping in the mail.
  • Seal the box and ship it ASAP
    A closed box full of frozen food with a mock up of a fake address getting ready to be shipped in the mail

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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