You can ship live fish with USPS if the fish can fit inside USPS’ box size regulations, and if you use enough packing material to fully absorb any leaks. Shipping live fish with the US Postal Service is fairly simple, and we’ve listed out the basics for you below.
Properly Packaging Your Live Fish for Shipment
Here’s how to properly package your fish shipment, with some regulations thrown in from USPS’ website:
- Fill a plastic airtight bag halfway with water, place your fish inside, and tightly tie off the top
- Place the bag containing the fish and water inside waterproof inner packaging, such as an insulated styrofoam box
- Cushion your plastic bag with enough absorbent material lining the foam packaging to take up all liquid in case of leakage (think towels, rags, etc)
- Place your inner waterproof packaging inside a new corrugated cardboard box, then seal it
If you’re looking for some foam packaging, check out this insulated foam shipping kit from ULINE.
Which USPS Service to Use (and When)
You’ll want to use either Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express for your live fish shipment. Speed is a crucial factor when shipping live fish, so the faster the service, the better. Priority Mail Express is USPS’ fastest shipping service, with overnight delivery between most urban centers, and 2-day delivery to and from rural areas. If you don’t want to pony up the extra cash for Priority Mail Express, then regular Priority Mail should still get the job done between 1-3 business days.
Also, we suggest shipping as close to the start of the week as possible. Generally speaking, the earlier in the week, the better. Sometimes the weekend throws delivery schedules off a bit, and you don’t want your fish to stay in transit any longer than they need to.
Pro Tip: Shipping live fish is entirely different from shipping fresh (killed) fish and other seafood. However, you can still follow this same process for shipping other live sea creatures such as shrimp and prawns.
Do You Need Insurance?
Keep in mind that all Priority Mail Services come with $50 of insurance at the Post Office, and $100 when you buy labels with shipping software. If your fish are valued more than that, it never hurts to protect your package with extra shipping insurance.
Save Money on Your Fish Shipment with Shipping Software
As always, you’ll save the most money on any Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express packages when you use shipping software to buy discounted postage online. The best shipping software options allow you to access special USPS discounts such as Commercial Pricing. USPS Commercial Pricing represents the highest level of savings that USPS typically only offers to huge commercial shippers sending out more than 50,000 parcels a year. Plus, shipping software lets you print your shipping labels at home and skip the lines at the Post Office!