International Shipping

How to Ship Frozen and Cold Foods

Learn how to ship frozen food and what it costs with carriers like USPS, UPS & FedEx. Get tips on how to pack frozen food containers.
How to Ship Frozen and Cold Foods

By Jules


April 18, 2019

Understanding how to ship frozen foods is a critical aspect of your online business if involved in shipping various types of food. Whatever food you sell and ship, it’s crucial that it gets to the intended recipient in good condition while also being fresh and free of any potential contamination. Having your food show up in poor condition will undoubtedly cost your company customers and revenue.

Before diving too deep into the world of selling and shipping food, you need to know some important tips for shipping frozen foods. In this blog post, we offer a quick yet detailed look at making sure your frozen foods are shipped without any major issues.

Frozen Fruits Ready to Be Shipped

Challenges of Shipping Frozen Foods

As many eCommerce entrepreneurs already know, shipping just about any type of frozen food or cold food comes with major challenges. Just a few of these include:

  • Extreme temperatures

When the weather is very hot or cold, it greatly affects packed and frozen foods, especially if they’re not properly packed to withstand the extreme temperature.

  • Humidity

Humidity, alongside heat in general, is another major threat to frozen foods.

  • Spoilage

This is another challenge that vendors of frozen foods face during shipping. When the food is not properly packed with insulated boxes and proper refrigeration, it greatly increases the chances of the food getting spoiled before delivery to its intended recipient.

Shipping Frozen Food Best Practices

Understanding how to ship frozen foods through couriers without having them become compromised during the shipment is crucial for online merchants. There are several ways, in general, to work around these serious challenges, including:

  • Properly planning your shipment timing
  • Using appropriate shipping boxes and containers
  • Liaising with a reputable shipping company
  • Avoiding cutting corners when packing
  • Properly refrigerating and packing food shipments
  • Making special courier arrangements if necessary

How to Ship Frozen Food with USPS, UPS and FedEx


Here are some guidelines you need to know in order to ship frozen food with the USPS.

  • USPS does not offer specific refrigeration services for shipments
  • Packaging using dry ice is acceptable
  • Containers must be leak proof, and not cause odors. They must NOT be air tight to allow condensation and carbon dioxide gas from melting ice to escape.  
  • Dry ice packaging is not allowed for International Shipping
  • A thick poly styrene box is recommended over inexpensive styrofoam coolers.
  • Packages with dry ice must have a Class 9 DOT miscellaneous hazardous material warning label and must be clearly marked “Carbon Dioxide Solid, Or Dry Ice."
  • The package must contain shipper's declaration for dangerous goods prepared in triplicate, and attached to the outside of the package.
  • The package must be clearly marked with name of the food being cooled and contain the net weight of the dry ice.


With UPS there are some guidelines you'll need to keep in mind, but overall it's a great choice for shipping frozen food.  

  • Try to keep shipment time under 30 hours. Next Day Air is ideal.
  • Use a think plastic liner for the inside of the package, and enclose the food in a plastic bag as well.
  • Thick insulated foam containers are suggested for keeping food as cold as possible.
  • Packaging using dry ice is acceptable. Gel packs are a good solution as well, but frozen water is not recommended.  
  • There are restrictions for shipping more than 5.5 pds of dry ice when shipped via air.  
  • If you ship dry ice internationally IATA regulations will apply.  


Like UPS, FedEx is a good option for shipping frozen foods. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Consider using FedEx Temp-Assure, a suite of temperature-control solutions.  
  • FedEx offers cold shipping packaging
  • For US shipments, FedEx Express requires perishable packages withstand a minimum transit time of 24 hours greater than the delivery commitment.
  • Recommended to use insulated foam containers with a minimum of
    1-1/2" (4-cm)-thick walls
  • When shipping with dry ice, correct identification, classification, markings, and labeling on your outer carton
  • Foam containers should be placed inside sturdy outer containers.

Choosing frozen food shipping containers

When shipping frozen food, it's best to use the following packaging to keep foods frozen during transit:

  • Foam insulating food shipping containers such as styrofoam
  • Dry ice boxes
  • Cardboard boxes with insulated box liners to keep temperatures cold

It's best to choose a shipping container that is slightly bigger than your item so there is enough room to add ice packs or dry ice to keep temperatures low during shipping.

How much does it cost to ship frozen foods?

When it comes to the cost of shipping frozen, perishable food from one location to the other, there is no fixed price. The monetary amount you spend in shipping your goods is mostly determined by the distance, duration, weight and type of frozen food you’re trying to ship. You should also consider the fact that you’ll likely need to invest in dry ice and packing gel, the quantity being determined by the weight of your goods and the distance to be covered before they’re delivered.

In order to figure out how to ship frozen food cheaply, it's best to do a proper evaluation of the materials is required to ship it correctly and the additional service costs your courier may charge.

Once you know your figures around packing and shipping frozen foods, you can turn to Easyship as a very useful resource. Our shipping calculator is a great way to receive accurate shipping and delivery time estimates from our global courier network, in addition to our support with generating labels, tracking shipments abroad and more.

Related Post: Shipping Food: The Dos and Don'ts Guide to Keeping Produce Fresh

How to Pack Frozen Foods for Shipping

Before you get your frozen food in transit, it’s important to ensure that its properly packed and refrigerated. Here are a few key packing tips for frozen and cold foods to keep in mind:

  • Properly wrap-up baked goods with an airtight seal that eliminates penetration of heat and humidity.
  • Use appropriate insulation options for foods that must remain frozen until delivered.
  • Watertight plastic should be used in packaging goods that are prone to leaking.
  • Seafood should be double-bagged for extra protection from extreme weather temperatures.
  • Use sturdy, corrugated cardboard boxes for shipping, with the excess space filled in with ice packs, bubble wrap, packing peanuts or craft paper.
  • Use an adequate amount of dry ice and frozen gel packs when packing up your frozen food shipments. With dry ice, always make sure there’s some sort of ventilation in the box or container.
  • Notably, couriers won’t accept dry ice in airtight packaging while some, including the USPS, won’t accept dry ice for international shipments.
  • As a general rule of thumb, use one pound of gel pack for every three pounds of meat.
  • When shipping cookies and other treats, always wrap them in wax paper or plastic wrap while also filling in the empty space in each box with packing peanuts, crumpled newspapers or a similar packing material.
  • Consider using special cold shipping boxes with insulated cooling to fit inside standard cardboard shipping boxes.

Whether you’re planning on using frozen food shipping containers, bags or anything else in between, always ensure that the packages are properly padded to avoid unnecessary shifting that might increase the chances of your goods getting damaged.

Shipping Frozen Goods: Pack & Ship Them Right with Easyship

If you sell perishable, frozen or cold food, it’s crucial to ship them properly to make sure they arrive fresh and free of any harmful contaminants. From seafood to fruit to ice cream to anything else in between, shipping frozen food using FedEx or another major courier is certainly possible – if you follow the proper packing and shipping procedures.

If you need to find out more about shipping options and prices, Easyship is just a few clicks away to make this easier.

Last updated June 17, 2020.