How to Ship Frozen Food with USPS, UPS and FedEx

The first thing you need to know is yes, shipping frozen food with major US carriers is allowed and possible. There are a few more things you need to understand before you ship your first package, but we will guide you through the overall process and specify all the requirements you need to know about. Obviously, we will have separate descriptions for 3 main carriers in the United States.

Challenges you need to know about first

Shipping frozen food isn’t as easy as shipping items or similar products. There are a few challenges you need to keep in mind and also to adapt so you can keep your customers happy.

  • Very low or high temperatures
  • Due to the fact you are shipping frozen foods, low or high temperatures will affect the content. This is a severe issue if the food isn’t properly packaged.

  • Humidity
  • Humidity when it is very high can seriously affect the foods you ship. It can speed up the spoilage process and your customer may receive a package they are not happy with.

  • Receiving spoiled foods
  • Your frozen food must be properly packaged before shipping it. If not, the risk of a recipient receiving spoiled food is very high. You need to use proper containers with insulation.

    Main things to know before shipping frozen food

    There are a few things you need to know before shipping containers with frozen food. These tips or points if you prefer do apply to all carriers and they are very simple to memorize.

    1. Plan the shipping so it is in transit the shortest period of time

    2. Always use proper/suitable containers and boxes for these shipments

    3. Use a respected and trustworthy courier

    4. Do not pack your packages poorly

    5. Create and manage proper arrangements with a selected courier

    6. Always refrigerate the foods properly

    How to ship frozen food with 3 major carriers

    Although relatively simple and straightforward, this type of shipping does come with a few differences, depending on a courier you choose. Below, you can see three major couriers and their requirements for shipping frozen food.


    These are guidelines that affect and come from USPS. Many business owners like this courier and consider them as the primary choice. The guidelines are explained below.

  • You can use dry ice when packaging
  • They do not offer special refrigeration features when transporting frozen food
  • All containers used must be leakproof. They must not release any odors.
  • Containers must not be airtight in which case carbon dioxide and condensation will occur inside
  • Dry ice cannot be used for international shipments
  • USPS recommends using a polystyrene box rather than Styrofoam container
  • Senders must mark the package with Class 9 DOT label for dry ice or carbon dioxide solid
  • Shipper must provide dangerous good declaration in three forms, and provided on each package
  • A package must provide the net weight of dry ice and also the type, name of the food inside
  • UPS

    UPS has a bit fewer requirements than USPS but they are still something you need to know about before sending the first frozen food package.

  • Next day Air is the most preferable option (the delivery time should be under 30 hours)
  • Place the food in a plastic bag and place the liner inside the package
  • Insulated foam containers (thick) are preferable
  • Frozen water isn’t recommended. Dry ice can be used so as to gel packaging
  • Dry ice must be used under 5.5 pds when packages are transported via air
  • IATA regulations do apply when shipping dry ice internationally
  • FedEx

    FedEx has also lower requirements than USPS and they are commonly chosen for this purpose.

  • They offer FedEx Temp-Assure. This is a suite that comes with temperature control
  • Frozen food packaging is available
  • All domestic shipments must be paired with perishable packages that can withstand at least 24 hours in transit
  • FedEx recommends using insulated foam containers. They should be at least 1-1/2" or 4cm in thickness.
  • Identification, markings, classification, and labeling is mandatory when using dry ice
  • All foam containers must be placed inside additional, sturdy containers

  • Best containers for shipping frozen food

    There are 3 main options you should consider in this case scenario. These are containers that are recommended for this particular purpose.

  • Food shipping containers made of Styrofoam with foam insulation
  • Boxes for dry ice
  • Card box boxes that do have insulation inside to keep the temperature low
  • We recommend you to use containers that are slightly bigger than the package you are actually sending. This is needed in order to keep the temperature at an optimal range and slow down the melting process.

    Price of shipping frozen food

    There is no fixed cost of this shipping. It depends on multiple factors. For example, you must consider the distance, the weight, size, duration, and also the type of food you are shipping. Keep in mind that you also need to include specialized containers and dry ice or gel in order to meet the requirements of US couriers. Before you do anything, it is advised to make sure you calculate the cost of shipping, the dry ice, containers, and all other requirements needed. Include them in your profit calculations.

    One method you can use to save some money is using ShipSaving. This is a platform that helps you with shipping, labeling, and even warehouse management. They can assist you by boosting your shipping value by 50%. It is very easy to use and optimized for small and medium businesses.

    Packaging frozen food properly

    By now you should know that shipping frozen food is possible and relatively easy. However, you still need to know how to pack them properly.

  • Pack backed goods with any airtight seal which will eliminate the risk of humidity and heat penetrating the package
  • Insulation options must be used accordingly in order to keep the food frozen until delivery
  • Watertight plastic must be used in a case when the package is prone to leaking
  • All seafood must be bagged 2 times to keep it safe
  • Extra-strong card boxes should be used where the excess space is filled with dry ice
  • When using dry ice, ventilation is mandatory
  • USPS doesn’t accept packages with dry ice for international shipments
  • One pound of gel is needed per 3 pounds of meat
  • Cookies need to be wrapped in wax paper and the box should contain newspaper or packaging peanuts
  • Special boxes with insulation and cooling can be used

  • The final word

    Now you are ready to ship your first frozen food package using any courier you like. Keep in mind that there are specific requirements you need to meet. But, they are relatively simple and straightforward so we don’t believe there will be any issues or complications. Take your time and you will be able to chip frozen food anywhere in the country and even father.