October 2, 2022

Blog: Everything you need to know about shipping hazardous materials with USPS

As shipping experts, we know firsthand that understanding how to ship hazardous materials (or HAZMAT items) correctly is among the most important things to consider when starting an eCommerce business. 

Doing so incorrectly can be extremely dangerous to others, as well as to the success of your company. As an eCommerce business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re shipping safely and according to carrier rules and regulations.

What’s considered a hazardous material?

Hazardous materials are more common than you may realize. According to USPS, “any substances that can pose a significant risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce are considered hazardous materials.” 

Common examples of hazardous materials include: 

  • Paints
  • Nail polish remover
  • Lithium batteries
  • Thermometers (or anything containing mercury)
  • Dry ice
  • Fragrances
  • Aerosols

You can find a full list of what USPS considers hazardous materials here

How to Ship Hazardous Materials with USPS

If you’re looking for more detailed instructions on how to ship HAZMAT items with USPS, check out USPS’s HAZMAT shipping tutorial. Heads up: it’s pretty lengthy. 

Here’s a quick summary:

Step 1: Find the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) 

This is the sheet that will tell you how to handle the specific products you’re working with, and how to transport them. 

If you don’t already have it, you can find this sheet in several ways:

  1. Visit your manufacturer’s website or reference their documentation
  2. Google search Manufacturer + Name of Product + “SDS”
  3. Search the SDS Database

On the SDS, you can also find transport information. Make sure to reference where you’re allowed to ship your HAZMAT items before moving onto the next step. This could save you a lot of time and headaches (you’re welcome).

Step 2: Review Shipping Instructions

You can find shipping instructions for the specific items you’re shipping with USPS in Publication 52. Here you will find everything from packaging instructions, labeling guidance, to another list of HAZMAT materials to watch out for. 

To determine your product’s mailability, head on over to the USPS HAZMAT tool

This will tell you if there are any shipping restrictions on your specific item. 

Step 3: Pack, Label, and Ship!

Generally, you can find step by step instructions on how to mail packages with USPS under the Sending Packages section of their website. 

For HAZMAT shipping, you’ll need to stick some special labels to your box, which means you’ll have to order these in advance. You can find the DOT HAZMAT warning labels you’ll need and how to fill them out in step 3 of the USPS HAZMAT shipping tutorial. Warning labels can be purchased in-person at a USPS location or online.  

Once your item is packaged and labeled correctly, you can drop it off at a USPS facility, or schedule a pickup. That’s it!

How PrettyDamnQuick Can Help

At PrettyDamnQuick, our goal is to make eCommerce delivery as simple as humanly possible.. 

Just let us know how you ship and we’ll help you improve your shipping experience and workflow. Reach out here.

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