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The Cheapest Way to Ship Anything

The Cheapest Way to Ship Dishes

Calculating shipping costs and choosing the most economical shipping method can be confusing. Our Cheapest Way to Ship Anything guides make it easy to compare shipping costs and choose the right method for your cargo, whether you're shipping common items like boxes or difficult-to-transport goods like antiques or artwork.

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1. How Much Does it Cost to Ship Dishes?

We've calculated shipping costs for three common shipping methods: USPS, parcel shipping, and consolidated freight.

i. USPS shipping costs

ii. Parcel shipping costs (eg. UPS or FedEx)

iii. Consolidated freight

2. Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about shipping dishes.


Dishes are often heavy and breakable, which makes them more difficult to ship than other household goods. When properly packed, it’s possible to safely ship dishes long distance, whether you’re shipping a single piece or a complete set of sentimental, valuable, or heirloom dishes.

Securely packing your dishes is the most effective way to keep them safe on their journey. To do so, there are some special considerations to keep in mind:

  • Fragility: Most often made of ceramic materials or glass, almost all dishes are breakable, and antique dishes made of delicate bone china and porcelain are even more so. Proper packing is essential to ensure your dishes arrive in one piece. You may even want to consider double boxing your dishes for added security, especially if you’re shipping valuable or antique dishes.
  • Packing materials: To ship dishes long distance, you’ll want to use a special box designed specifically for packing dishes called a “dish pack”. You’ll also need lots of padding like bubble wrap and packing paper. Don’t be tempted to use found supplies in place of proper bubble wrap and packing paper, especially if you’re transporting antique dishes—newsprint can transfer dye to your dishes, and bubble wrap can leave marks and damage the surface if placed directly against the dish.
  • Box size: You’ll need a bigger box than you anticipate in order to leave room for enough padding. The best way to ship dishes is in a 16” x 16” x 16” box which is then packed securely into a larger 18” x 18” x 18” box.
  • Value: If you’re relocating, cheaper dishes are often best donated or sold and replaced in your new hometown. Antique or valuable dishes should be insured to cover their full value in case of damage.
  • Box weight: Be careful not to overload your box—a heavier box is more likely to sustain damage. Instead of packing your entire set of dishes into 1 or 2 boxes, pack them into several smaller, lighter boxes with a maximum weight of 10 lbs each. Stick with only a few items per box and make sure the weight is evenly distributed throughout the box.
  • Number of boxes: A standard set of dishes typically requires 3-4 boxes weighing no more than 10 lbs each. The shipping cost estimates included below will be based on these typical expectations.

How much does it cost to ship dishes?

The cheapest way to ship dishes depends on how many boxes you’re shipping and how fast you need them to arrive.

Let’s compare rates for shipping dishes using some of the most common methods:

  • USPS
  • Parcel shipping (such as FedEx or UPS)
  • Consolidated shipments

USPS

USPS offers flat rate shipping, but it is not ideal for shipping dishes. USPS requires you to use their boxes to qualify for flat rate pricing, and even the largest box will not be large enough to leave space for adequate padding.

The best way to ship dishes using USPS is through Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, or USPS Retail Ground, depending on how quickly you need your dishes to arrive at their destination. For each of these services, your shipping costs will depend on the weight of each box, as well as the speed and distance of travel. Retail Ground is the least expensive with delivery in 2-8 business days.

Box size and weight Philadelphia →
Miami
Philadelphia →
Los Angeles
Chicago →
Dallas
Cleveland →
San Diego
18" x 18" x 16"
10 lbs
$58.70-$224.00
per box
$96.00-$250.95
per box
$58.70-$224.00
per box
$96.00-$250.95
per box

Parcel shipping (UPS or FedEx)

Both UPS and FedEx offer flat rate shipping services. FedEx requires you to use their boxes, which are not large enough to safely pack dishes. UPS, on the other hand, allows you to use your own boxes and calculates flat rate pricing based on box volume instead of dimensions. Depending on the size of your box, you may qualify for flat rate shipping with UPS.

Box size UPS*
Large (651-1,050”3) $21.00-$50.00
Extra large (1,051-1,728”3) $25.00-$61.50

In most cases, parcel carriers will ship dishes using variable pricing. This means that the cost of your shipment will depend on size and weight of the box, as well as speed and distance of travel. Additional charges may also apply for residential deliveries.

Box size and weight Philadelphia →
Miami
Philadelphia →
Los Angeles
Chicago →
Dallas
Cleveland →
San Diego
18" x 18" x 16"
10 lbs
UPS:
$51.66-$322.81
per box

FedEx: $56.56-$378.14
per box
UPS:
$90.82-$376.14
per box

FedEx:
$97.40-$438.43
per box
UPS:
$51.66-$322.81
per box

FedEx: $56.56-$378.14
per box
UPS:
$90.82-$376.14
per box

FedEx:
$97.40-$438.43
per box

Consolidated freight (TSI)

Shipping dishes through an LTL (less than truckload) service provider makes the most sense when you are transporting dishes as part of a larger household move, or if you are shipping valuable or antique dishware.

Some providers like TSI specialize in transporting difficult-to-ship cargo, including valuable or antique dishware. TSI’s White Glove shipping service, for example, can include professional packing, and your boxes will never be carried by forklift or other heavy machinery so you can rest assured your dishes will be handled with care throughout their journey.

White Glove pricing for small shipments is based on zip codes and shipment dimensions. TSI’s White Glove long distance pricing generally starts at $1,000, which covers shipments up to approximately 30-40 cubic feet. Including the packing of fine china, the minimum cost for White Glove shipping is around $1,400. Insurance for the value of the items is not available for customer-packed dishes, so for valuable, fragile items it’s worth the extra cost of having items professionally packed and purchasing insurance.

If your dishes are not valuable or fragile, you could consider freight shipping, which can be more cost effective. In this case, you would pack your own boxes and have them ready for curb-to-curb pickup and delivery.

TSI TIP: Freight shippers will always price your shipment using a minimum billable weight. TSI’s minimum billable weight is 120lbs, which means that a few boxes weighing a cumulative 40 lbs will be priced as if they weigh 120 lbs. This is why it makes the most sense to ship your dishes as part of a larger household move.

Number of boxes and box weight Philadelphia →
Miami
Philadelphia →
Los Angeles
Chicago →
Dallas
Cleveland →
San Diego
12 boxes x 10 lbs per box
(120 lbs total)
$462.89
($38.57 per box)
$681.29
($56.77 per box)
$436.48
($36.37 per box)
$486.42
($37.42 per box)

NOTE: Box size does not factor into freight pricing.

Learn more about White Glove shipping.

COVID-19 Precautions

TSI is carefully monitoring all of our shipments nationwide. We have seen minimal delays thus far, and are in constant contact with transportation industry leaders in order to be as proactive as possible. All members of the logistics chain are using the safety precautieons recommended by the C.D.C.:

  • Clean your hands often (washing for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer)
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home if sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surface

NOTE: Shipping cost estimates are calculated using individuals providers’ online cost estimator tools. Details, exact prices, and shipping times are not guaranteed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to ship dishes?

The cost of shipping dishes depends on a combination of the size and weight of the package, how far it will travel, and how quickly you need to arrive.

Here’s a rough idea how much you can expect a box of books to cost to ship using some of the most popular shipping methods in 2021:

USPS

  • $58.70-$250.95 depending on speed and distance of travel. Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances. 

Parcel shipping (eg. UPS or FedEx)

  • $21.00-$61.50 flat rate shipping with UPS, depending on package size and speed of travel.

  • $51.66-$438.43 for faster delivery, depending on speed and distance of travel. Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances.

Consolidated freight (eg. TSI)

  • $462.90-$681.89 for three boxes weighing 12 boxes weighing 10 lbs each.

How do I ship plates?

The best way to ship plates is in a dish pack. Dish packs are designed for shipping dishes and offer the most protection against damage.

The right shipping method depends on how many boxes you have to ship and how fast you need them to arrive.

  • USPS and parcel carriers offer multiple shipping speeds that will work for shipping dishes.
  • Consolidated White Glove service is ideal for shipping dishes as part of a larger household move, or if you’re shipping antique or valuable dishes.

How do I ship mugs without breaking any?

To ship mugs without breaking any, wrap each mug carefully in packing paper and bubble wrap before placing it gently into a sturdy, well-padded box. Ensure there is adequate padding between each mug and anything else in the box, as well as around the outside of the box to protect the contents against bumps and bangs.

How do I pack fragile items without bubble wrap?

To pack fragile items without bubble wrap, make sure you use adequate packing paper to sufficiently protect and pad your items, or use alternate packing materials like air pockets or even plastic bags.

It is possible to pack fragile items without bubble wrap, but it is not recommended. If you are shipping dishes or other fragile items, bubble wrap offers the best protection against breakage.

How do I pack plates for shipping?

When packing plates and dishes for shipping, you’ll generally follow these steps:

  1. Assemble the box and fill the bottom layer with at least 2 inches of packing paper. Add another 2 inches of cushion on each side of the box as you pack it.
  2. Wrap each dish individually in packing paper, then bubble wrap. The packing paper will protect the surface of the dish, which is especially important for shipping antique or heirloom dishes.
  3. Place plates inside the box on their sides, vertically, and create horizontal rows. Do not stack plates on top of one another—they’re much stronger and safer packed on their sides!
  4. Add some extra padding between each dish. A layer of cardboard is the most sturdy and secure. If you’re using a dish pack, there should already be cardboard slots to slide your plates into.
  5. Pack heavier dishes to the bottom of the box. If you’re packing multiple layers of dishes, into one box, make sure there is at least one inch of padding between each layer.
  6. Fill any extra space with packing materials to ensure nothing will shift in transit.
  7. Seal the box and label it as ‘“FRAGILE” on the top and on at least two sides.

How do I pack fine china for moving?

When packing fine china for moving, it’s important that you take extra care to protect your items, such as double boxing your china or insuring your shipment in case of damage. You’ll generally follow these steps:

 

  1. Assemble a dish pack or strong corrugated cardboard box. Line the bottom and sides of the box with at least 2 inches of padding. Assemble a second, slightly larger box and pad the bottom of this one as well.
  2. Wrap each dish in paper, then bubble wrap so the plastic doesn’t damage the surface of the dish.
  3. Slide each dish into the dish pack.
  4. Fill empty space with packing materials to prevent shifting.
  5. Seal the smaller, packed box and slide it into the larger box. Fill the empty sides with padding.
  6. Seal the box and label as “FRAGILE” on the top and at least two sides.

Shipping dishes?

TSI specializes in small household moves, including shipping dishes.

Learn more

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