Whether you’re an e-commerce business specializing in popsicles, or just want to share the newest ice cream flavor you whipped up with friends, then you need to know how to ship frozen foods through the mail.
While shipping frozen foods always contains some level of risk, it is possible. So, if you’d like to learn how to properly ship frozen food, keep reading to see what I discovered on this topic!
Does USPS Ship Frozen Food In 2024?
It’s possible to send frozen food via USPS, provided your product is sufficiently packaged. Using an insulated foam cooler, in addition to packaging your box with insulated liners, will help keep goods frozen. Gel packs and dry ice can also be used in 2024. USPS does not offer refrigeration services, so keep that in mind when choosing a shipping method.
If you want to avoid sending melty ice cream or liquid popsicles, then be sure to read our guide about how to ship frozen food with USPS!
How Does Shipping Frozen Food with USPS Work?
Now that you’ve gotten the go-ahead to ship frozen items, you probably have some questions about shipping recommendations and restrictions.
First and foremost, know that USPS doesn’t offer refrigerated shipping.
Therefore, you’ll want to select Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express when shipping frozen items to make sure your package arrives quickly.
Second, it’s important to package your items well, as USPS could hold you liable for damage to other mail if your package leaks.
Next, USPS reminds customers that many areas of the country (e.g. Florida, Hawaii, and California) have restrictions related to mailing produce.
If you’re mailing frozen fruit or vegetables to any of these states, call the destination state’s Department of Agriculture or visit the website to learn more about any restrictions that may be in place.
Lastly, there is a lot to be aware of if you choose to ship frozen foods using dry ice.
USPS permits the use of dry ice in mailing, but it does note that this method is available at your own risk.
Here are some other things you’ll need to keep in mind:
- Dry ice is prohibited from International Mail.
- You can use up to 5 lbs. of dry ice per mailpiece when shipping domestically via air transportation (Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, and First-Class Package Service-Commercial).
- You can use more than 5 lbs. of dry ice when shipping domestically via surface transportation (Parcel Select, USPS Marketing Mail and USPS Retail Ground).
- Each mailpiece containing dry ice must be clearly marked with the name of the contents (e.g. steaks, ice cream), and the net weight of the dry ice on the address side.
- Dry ice being sent via air transportation must:
- Bear a Class 9 DOT miscellaneous hazardous material warning label
- Be marked “Carbon Dioxide Solid” or “Dry Ice”
- Have a completed shipper’s declaration for dangerous goods form attached to the outside of the package.
- Dry ice being sent via surface transportation must:
- Be marked either “Surface Only,” “Surface Mail Only,” and “Carbon Dioxide Solid, UN1845” or “Dry Ice, UN1845.”
If you have further questions or concerns about shipping with dry ice, visit the USPS website.
How Do You Send Frozen Food Through USPS?
Once you get your head around all of the shipping procedures, you’ll probably want to learn the best way to go about shipping frosty foods.
One of the first things to decide is how you’re going to keep your food frozen (or at least cold). Dry ice and gel packs are the best options.
Dry ice should be used for ice cream or other foods that absolutely have to stay frozen.
It lasts longer than other cooling methods, and stays dry as it thaws, preventing your package from getting soggy in transit.
Gel packs are a good option if you want to keep food very cold, but not necessarily frozen. These packs will keep your food somewhere between 32º and 60º F.
Remember that gel packs will dampen as they melt, so take extra precautions to make sure your package won’t end up soaked.
On that note, avoid shipping regular ice if at all possible. Not only is regular ice heavy, but it melts easily and will likely turn your box into a soggy mess.
Next, choose your cooler. USPS does not recommend using inexpensive Styrofoam coolers from the grocery store because they break easily and may not be the right shape for shipping.
Rather, look for a thicker polystyrene box. This kind of box is especially recommended if you’re using dry ice.
This is because polystyrene boxes allow for extended shipping times and require less dry ice than thinner boxes.
Whichever type of container you choose, make sure it’s leak-proof, but not airtight.
In other words, the container should be able to collect condensation while still allowing the carbon dioxide gas to escape as it melts.
If a container is airtight, it could cause pressure to increase, resulting in an explosion.
Therefore, if you want to be extra careful, line the inside of the container with a thick plastic liner and place an absorbent pad on top.
You can also purchase a container specifically made to hold dry ice. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper usage.
Once you’ve prepared your cooler, place the frozen items in a waterproof plastic bag before adding them to the container.
Finish by surrounding your products with your desired cooling agent.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship Frozen Food Through USPS?
Shipping frozen food via USPS can range anywhere from $30 to $150.
This range is so large because the price you’ll pay is dependent on shipping distance, delivery time, and the weight of the package.
Shipping frozen food through USPS is entirely possible, but you have to know how to do it the right way to ensure that your products arrive in good condition.
Remember to choose a sturdy container, stock up on cooling products, and pay for the fastest shipping you can afford.