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Shipping Fragile Items and Other Sensitive Goods

by EasyPost
Woman packing a box and choosing a shipping method on her computer.

Table of Contents

  • Tips for shipping fragile items
  • How to ship fragile items
  • How to ship large items
  • How to ship heavy items
  • How to ship high-value items
  • How to ship hazardous materials
  • How different carriers ship fragile items

Fragile items and other sensitive goods require extra care and attention when shipped to arrive safely at their destination. Large, small, and perishable items all pose their own unique challenges when it comes to packaging and shipping. But don’t worry, with a little planning and precaution, you can successfully ship even the most delicate items.  

Tips for shipping fragile items and other sensitive goods

Different items require different packaging and shipping methods. Keep these universal tips in mind when shipping sensitive goods.

Properly package and cushion the item

First and foremost, it’s important to securely package and cushion the item you’re planning to ship. Use bubble wrap or packing peanuts for extra protection, and make sure the box or container is reinforced and sturdy enough to withstand potential rough handling during transportation.

Clearly mark the package as fragile

It’s also important to clearly mark the package as fragile or sensitive. This can help make sure your package receives the proper attention and handling during transit, reducing the likelihood of it being mishandled or damaged.

Consider purchasing insurance

In addition to properly packaging and cushioning the item, it’s highly recommended to consider purchasing insurance for your shipment. This can be purchased through the carrier or a third party and provides added peace of mind in case something unexpected were to happen during transit, such as damage or loss.

Research shipping options

Research the carriers and shipping options available to you and choose the one that best meets your needs. You’ll want to consider factors such as cost, transit times, the carrier’s reputation, and the amount of insurance coverage offered.

How to ship fragile items

Fragile items, such as glassware, are prone to breakage and damage during transit, but with proper packaging and precautions in addition to the universal tips mentioned above, you can send your packages off to their destination without needing to worry. Follow these steps for shipping fragile items.

1. Choose properly sized boxes

It’s important to choose the proper box size for your item. An overly large box may result in the item being able to move and shift during transit, while a box that is too small could lead to compression and crushing.

2. Cushion and secure goods

Be sure to cushion and secure the item with bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or another cushioning material to prevent movement during transit. This will provide added protection in case the box is dropped or mishandled.

3. Label the box as fragile

When you label a box as fragile, it can help encourage carriers to properly handle the parcel during transit. While it doesn’t guarantee protection against mishandling, clearly labeling a box as fragile can reduce unnecessary risks.

4. Attach a tilt or impact detector

A tilt or impact detector can be a helpful addition as you pack fragile items. These devices alert the shipper if the package has been tilted or dropped, allowing for quick action in case of damage.

5. Research carrier options

Be sure to do your research and choose a carrier that offers the appropriate level of protection for your item. This may include factors such as insurance coverage and speedy transit times.

6. Insure the shipment

It’s also a good idea to insure the shipment for added protection in case of damage or loss during transit. This can offer peace of mind and potentially cover any financial losses in the event of something unexpected happening.

Man delivering packages

How to ship large items

Shipping large items can pose a challenge due to their size and weight. Follow these tips to safely ship large items such as furniture and appliances. 

1. Find a strong box that fits the item

It’s important to choose a box or shipping container that is not only the appropriate size for the item but is also strong enough to handle the weight of the item. Using a box that is too flimsy or weak can result in your product being damaged during transit.

2. Reinforce the item with reliable packaging materials

Using packaging materials such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or air pillows can help keep the item secure and prevent movement during transit. It may also be a good idea to reinforce the box with extra tape for added protection.

3. If possible, divide the shipment into smaller packages

Consider dividing the item into smaller packages or pieces to distribute the weight more evenly. Doing so can also make it easier for the carrier to handle and transport. 

4. Calculate dimensional weight

Carriers may charge based on the actual weight or dimensional weight of a package, so it’s important to calculate both in order to have an accurate estimate of shipping costs. To determine dimensional weight, multiply the length by the width by the height of the package and divide it by your carrier’s dimensional weight divisor. 

5. Compare shipping options

Don’t just choose the first shipping option you come across. Compare rates and services from multiple carriers to find the best option for your needs and budget, especially when shipping large items that typically have higher shipping rates.  

How to ship heavy items

Shipping heavy items can come with its own set of challenges, but by following these tips, you can ship heavy items with ease.

1. Choose sturdy shipping materials

In addition to a strong box or container, using sturdy shipping materials, such as reinforced tape, wood braces, and foam padding, can keep the item secure and protected during transit.

2. Use cushioning material

Include cushioning materials like air pillows and bubble wrap in your packaging to prevent movement and to protect the item from shock and impact during transit. 

3. Calculate dimensional weight

Dimensional weight is a measurement used by carriers to calculate shipping costs and is often higher for heavy items due to their size. To calculate dimensional weight, multiply the package’s length by width by height and divide by the carrier’s unique dimensional factor. 

4. Compare carrier rates and services

Carriers may have different rates and requirements for shipping, especially when it comes to shipping heavy items. Compare the options available to you and choose the service that best meets your needs.

How to ship high-value items 

Shipping high-value items can come with added stress and uncertainty, but by carefully planning and preparing shipments, you can greatly increase the likelihood of a safe arrival. 

1. Package items securely

When shipping high-value items, the last thing anyone wants is for the items to become damaged during transit. Protect these items by taking precautions to properly secure them using sturdy boxes and cushioning materials.

2. Remove value indicators

Remove or cover any labels or markings that could potentially indicate the value of the item, as this can increase the risk of the package becoming a target for theft.

3. Require a signature

Require a signature upon delivery to ensure that the package is not left unattended. You may even want to consider using additional security options such as requiring a photo ID for pickup.

4. Insure the shipment

Insuring a high-value shipment for its full value can give you peace of mind and financial protection if the item is lost or damaged during transit. Insurance can be purchased through the carrier or through a third party, such as EasyPost.

How to ship hazardous materials 

Shipping hazardous materials requires extra precautions and may have stricter regulations and restrictions compared to nonhazardous shipments. Hazardous materials typically include goods that could be explosive, flammable, toxic, or infectious. 

1. Classify hazardous materials

Before shipping hazardous materials, properly classify the item according to its characteristics and any applicable regulations. This will determine how it should be packaged, labeled, and transported. 

2. Package goods according to regulations

Follow all packaging guidelines and regulations for hazardous materials, including using approved containers and properly labeling the package. These can be found through resources such as the U.S. Department of Transportation.

3. Fill out any required paperwork

Paperwork and documentation may be required for shipping hazardous materials, so be sure to gather and complete all necessary forms.

4. Confirm carrier requirements

 Confirm with your chosen carrier any specific requirements or restrictions they may have for hazardous materials. This information can typically be found on their website. 

Woman at home opening a package

How different carriers ship fragile items

All carriers can ship fragile items, but some go about it differently than others. Here you can find the right carrier that offers the best shipping for fragile items. 


There is no extra fee for shipping fragile items with FedEx. They won’t pack your items for you, so be sure to correctly pack them before closing up the packages.


There is no extra fee for shipping fragile items with UPS, either. Unlike FedEx, UPS will pack your packages before shipping them to ensure a successful arrival.


USPS has a fragile shipping service that packs and ships your packages for you, whether you are sending just one or multiple items.

Shipping fragile items and other sensitive goods with EasyPost

With EasyPost’s shipping API, shippers can integrate with over 100 carriers to start confidently shipping fragile items and sensitive goods. Plus, our shipping insurance provides extra peace of mind, especially when shipping valuable or fragile goods. 

To start shipping with EasyPost, sign up for a free account and integrate with your most trusted carriers. For more on how EasyPost can meet your business’ unique needs, schedule a free consultation with one of our shipping experts to learn how you can reliably ship sensitive goods around the world.