How to Send Canned Goods in Mail

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Mail canned goods in a sturdy box at the post office.
Mail canned goods in a sturdy box at the post office. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Careful packing is the key to successfully sending canned goods in the mail. When done right, the package will arrive intact and on time with dent-free cans. The heavy weight may invite potential damage to the container’s exterior during transport, so a sturdy corrugated cardboard box works best. Use any combination of craft paper, packing peanuts, bubble wrap or corrugated cardboard strips as packing filler to prevent product damage. Affixing the correct shipping address and the right amount of postage improve the package’s chances of safe arrival at the desired destination.

Things You'll Need

  • Canned goods
  • Packing filler
  • Scale
  • Ruler
  • Sturdy corrugated cardboard box
  • Packing tape
  • Destination address
  • Two shipping labels
  • Money for postage

Weigh the cans and an estimated amount of packing filler.

Weigh the items.
Weigh the items. (Image: scale image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com)

Gather the canned goods into a group. If you choose to wrap the individual cans in filler for extra protection, do it now. Arrange the cans side by side in a rectangle. Add cardboard inserts between them if desired.

Gather the cans into a group for packing.
Gather the cans into a group for packing. (Image: canned fish studio isolated over white image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

Measure the overall length, width and height of the canned goods. Add at least four inches to the height, length and width to accommodate two inches of filler on each side.

Measure the items.
Measure the items. (Image: steel ruler image by dwags from Fotolia.com)

Find a strong cardboard box that is no smaller than these dimensions and meets the maximum weight capacity needed. Allow extra weight for packing materials. Seal the bottom of the box with a strip of packing tape across each of the three outside seams.

Choose a box that meets all requirements for shipping.
Choose a box that meets all requirements for shipping. (Image: cardboard box image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

Put two inches of filler in the bottom of the box. Place the cans inside the box as closely together as possible.

Use filler to protect the canned goods in transit.
Use filler to protect the canned goods in transit. (Image: packing peanuts background image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com)

Place filler around the canned goods so that there is no free space between the cans and the box walls. Ensure proper fit by temporarily closing the box lid, then adding or subtracting filler until the cans are snug and the package does not bulge. Place an address label inside the box.

Shut the box. Secure it tightly with packing tape across all seams. Surround the box with a strip of packing tape across the center lines, both horizontally and vertically.

Securely tape the box shut.
Securely tape the box shut. (Image: scatolone image by haruspex from Fotolia.com)

Label the box top with the appropriate mailing address and return address information.

Take the package to your local post office and pay the appropriate postage due, adding options of insurance, delivery verification or Priority Mail.

Tips & Warnings

  • The maximum weight capacity is generally printed on the bottom of a corrugated cardboard box.
  • To test for a snug fit, hold the box top shut and shake the box back and forth. If you can feel the cans moving around, add more filler.
  • Do not place the address label across a seam.
  • Cover the address label with clear packing tape to prevent smearing in case of inclement weather.
  • The U.S. Postal Service will pick up packages from any address with appropriate postage paid and notification that pick-up is needed.
  • The U.S. Postal Service offers Priority Mail flat rate boxes based on size, rather than weight. Shipping canned goods this way is generally more economical.

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