As covid-19 continues to linger, many have not had the enjoyable experience of going outside on a sunny day to enjoy their favorite frozen treats. Thanks to eCommerce! It is possible to order anything online -including ice cream, gelato, and sorbet- and receive it right on your doorstep within a few hours.

But the big question is: how can you ship ice cream? The fact is, shipping ice cream can be a logistical nightmare and requires careful planning and packaging. Being a temperature-sensitive product, you need to exercise extra care when you ship to avoid a situation where the recipient gets a package that is nothing but a soupy, sticky mess.

In this article, we'll help you understand how to ship ice cream, things that can go wrong when shipping ice cream, and the different packaging strategies that you can use to make sure that your frozen shipment arrives in pristine conditions to your buyers.

Easyship has helped many eCommerce retailers pivot their eCommerce businesses with over 250+ affordable shipping solutions, save money with discounted shipping rates up to 70%, and save time through shipping process automation.

If you’re considering shipping cross-border, we can help you find the cheapest way to ship internationally.

Table of Contents

“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.” 
― Don Kardong
Photo by Brooke Lark / Unsplash

Why Ship Ice Cream

There are plenty of occasions when small businesses and individuals find it necessary to ship ice cream. Here are just a few:

  • Supermarkets, ice cream parlors, and gelaterias that have established an online presence to reach more customers will need to ship a few pints anytime a customer places an order online.
  • Businesses that supply supermarkets, stores, ice cream parlors, and gelaterias ship ice cream in bulk all the time using refrigerated, temperature-controlled transport.
  • One of your customers may be on vacation abroad and may want to get a taste of the local flavors while there, and you may find yourself wanting to send an ice cream internationally.
  • There are plenty of private shippers who may want to ship an ice cream cake to their loved ones a few miles away, or send ice cream home internationally to their families.

What are the Restrictions and Extra Charges for Shipping Ice Cream?

Carrier restrictions apply when it comes to mailing frozen shipments containing dry ice. Here are the common restrictions that you need to observe when mailing such shipments via FedEx, UPS, or USPS.


FedEx provides some of the best shipping options for mailing frozen shipments. Here are some restrictions and guidelines you need to keep in mind when shipping ice cream or any other frozen shipments with FedEx.

  • When shipping with dry ice, make sure that you have the correct identifications, classifications, markings, and labeling on your outer carton.
  • It is recommended that you use insulated foam containers with a minimum of 4cm thick walls.Then, place your foam container inside a sturdy outer container.
  • For local shipments, FedEx Express requires perishable packages to withstand a minimum transit time of 24 hours above the estimated delivery commitment.
  • FedEx offers cold shipping packaging.
  • FedEx Temp-assure is a suite of temperature-control solutions that you should consider using when mailing ice cream.


UPS, like FedEx, offers great options for shipping frozen products. Here are the guidelines you should be aware of:

  • There are restrictions for shipping more than 5.5 pounds of dry ice via air
  • If you ship dry ice internationally, IATA regulations will apply.
  • You can package your ice cream with dry ice or gel packs. Frozen water is not recommended.
  • To keep your frozen shipment as cold as possible, consider using thick insulated foam containers.
  • A maximum of 30 hours in-transit is recommended for frozen shipments. Next Day Air is an ideal service.
  • For the inside of your package, use a thick plastic liner, and enclose your frozen shipment in a plastic bag as well.


Here are the guidelines you need to be aware of when sending frozen shipments via USPS.

  • USPS doesn't offer specific refrigerations services for frozen shipments
  • Dry ice packaging is not allowed for international shipping.
  • Dry ice packaging is acceptable for domestic shipments
  • Containers must not leak or cause odors. To allow carbon dioxide from dry ice to vent, your package must not be air-tight.
  • Packages with dry ice must have a Class 9 DOT miscellaneous hazardous material warning label and must be clearly marked "Dry Ice" or Carbon Dioxide Solid."
  • The package must contain the shipper's declarations for dangerous goods prepared in triplicate, and attached to the outside of the package.
  • The package must be clearly marked with the name of the frozen food being cooled and contain the net weight of dry ice.
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Things That Can Go Wrong Shipping Ice Cream

Cherry Popsicles
Photo by Lindsay Moe / Unsplash

Ice cream is a temperature-sensitive product, and businesses or private shippers sending ice cream to different destinations need to be aware of what can go wrong when shipping ice cream. Here is what you need to take care of.

  • Risk of melting: The first, and the most obvious thing that can go wrong when shipping ice cream is the risk of melting on transit due to temperature changes as your ice cream moves from one location to another. You need to make sure that your ice cream stays frozen to maintain its flavor and freshness.
  • Shipping different flavor combinations: Another challenge comes in when you want to ship different flavor combinations. When you blend different flavors, you change the way the ice cream reacts to changes in temperature because each flavor may melt differently in response to temperature changes. For example, an ice cream made of a mix of strawberry-chocolate flavors may melt differently than individual strawberry or chocolate ice cream. This makes different flavor combinations even more difficult to ship.
  • Adding new components: New components such as candy, marshmallows, and chocolate chips may make ice cream even more complicated and difficult to ship. Some of these elements, especially marshmallows, may react poorly to cold.
  • Icy and grainy taste: You may think: why not just allow it to heat up and freeze it later! Well, the problem is that an ice cream that has been heated up and then frozen loses its freshness and flavor, and can taste icy and grainy. You need to prevent this so that your customers can get the original ice cream experience.
Related: How to Ship Frozen Foods

How Much Does It Cost To Ship Ice Cream

Just like shipping any other package, there is no one-rate-fits-all-boxes when it comes to mailing ice cream. As you would expect, several variables such as the weight of your package, shipping distance, package dimensions, delivery speed, and the courier service you use all come to play when determining your shipping cost.

Being a sensitive product, shipping ice cream may also attract additional handling surcharges that you may need to enquire from your courier. You will also need to consider the cost of dry ice or gel packs.

After you have packaged your ice cream following the IATA and courier requirements for shipping frozen shipments, weigh your package and use the Easyship shipping rates calculator to calculate your shipping rate and book your shipment right away.

Can You Ship Ice Cream Abroad?

Absolutely! You can ship ice cream locally and internationally under the right conditions. Businesses that deal with ice cream manage to do it all the time to supply stores, supermarkets, ice cream parlors, and gelaterias.

But it is easier for distributors and large shippers to mail frozen shipments than it is for individuals or small businesses. As we have already mentioned, big businesses manage to ship ice cream in bulk to local and international destinations using refrigerated, temperature-controlled transport.

Such specialized transport helps provide more protection against temperature changes because boxes of ice cream that have been tightly packed together and put under the right conditions will keep each other cold, and melt slower than a few pints of ice cream that a small business or an individual may need to ship.

Also, refrigerated, temperature-controlled transport will only be cost-effective for businesses that ship ice cream in bulk all the time. It is not a realistic solution for individuals who are looking to send an ice cream cake to their loved ones or small businesses that may want to send a few pieces to their online customers.

So, how can SMEs and individuals ship ice cream? That leads us to our next point below.

Review the international shipping restrictions per country with our guide

6 Packaging Strategies For Shipping Ice Cream

Photo by American Heritage Chocolate / Unsplash

The good news is that shipping ice cream is not only for the big box companies. Even individuals and small businesses in the eCommerce space can package and ship ice cream locally and overseas without giving up its flavor and freshness.

Here are a few packaging strategies for shipping ice cream that will help you maintain its freshness and flavor.

  1. Keep it cool with dry ice

Dry ice is an excellent alternative to regular ice for sending frozen shipments. Regular ice is not only heavy-weight, and hence can add to the cost of your shipment, but also can also dampen the inside of your shipment as it melts.

It is not recommended by couriers. Dry ice, on the other hand, is light-weight and can help drive down your shipping rate.

When packaging your ice cream with dry ice, remember to take proper safety precautions. It can cause burns if not handled correctly, and you need to put on gloves and goggles for save handling.

Remember that dry ice releases carbon dioxide and the vapor needs to vent to avoid an explosion. Therefore, do not make the package airtight. It is advisable that you package your ice cream with dry ice inside a two-inch thick, sturdy polystyrene (EPS) container, and ship it inside a corrugated cardboard box.

To decide how much dry ice you should add to your package, consider the expected in-transit time, plus an additional 24-hour delay, just in case.

  1. Using Gel packs

Gel packs provide a good option to keep food between 0-15 degrees and are commonly used for packaging and shipping ice cream locally.

They may not be ideal for keeping your ice cream products frozen for long, hence you should use speedy shipping options that provide the shortest transit time possible.

One advantage of using gel packs is that they last longer than dry ice, and may provide the best option for shorter distances, or shipping ice cream with marshmallows, which may not withstand the extreme cold of -109° F of dry ice.

2. Consider using insulated boxes

Whether you want to package your ice cream with either gel packs or dry ice, using insulated polystyrene boxes provides the best option. They help keep your ice cream insulated, and it can stay frozen for long.

In fact, you can keep your ice cream cold and frozen for up to 48 hours if you use insulated foam shipping boxes with thick 20mm walls.

3. Ensure a maximum transit time of 30 hours

Another thing you need to consider when shipping ice cream locally or internationally is how long the journey will take. However well-packaged your ice cream is, you can have its quality compromised after around 30 hours.

To reduce the vulnerabilities it could be exposed to, keep the transit time to a minimum to help safeguard its freshness and flavor, by using a shipping service with a maximum transit time of 30 hours or less.

4. Track your shipment

Frozen shipments like ice cream are sensitive, and you need to be able to get up-to-date information about what is happening to your package until it reaches its destination.  

Tracking your package with the Easyship global tracking system will help you maintain full delivery visibility with branded emails, dedicated tracking pages, and text alerts so that you can have peace of mind with your ice cream shipments.

5. Ensure somebody is home to receive the package

You don't want to go through all the hassles of shipping an ice cream only to have it spoiled in the recipient's residence. The last thing you can imagine is to have a soupy, spoiled mess on your customer's or friend's porch.

To avoid this, make sure you arrange to have someone receive it immediately when it arrives, or provide your courier with the recipient's phone number so that they can call to have the package collected, other than leaving it on the porch.

How Easyship Can Help

As you can see, there is a bit of a challenge when it comes to shipping ice cream locally or overseas. But if you do your planning right and package your shipment following your courier guidelines, you can ship ice cream to any corner of the world.

Easyship is dedicated to helping you find the most affordable shipping solutions for your eCommerce business. We give a network of over 250+ cost-effective courier solutions, fulfillment centers in different locations, and help you realize substantial cost savings with up to 70% discounted shipping rates, as well as save time by automating much of the shipping process.

Sign up for a free Easyship account today and let us help you up-scale your eCommerce business.