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Travis Edwards

How to Comply with USPS’s New HAZMAT Shipping Rules Effective July 9, 2023

by Travis Edwards

What is happening on July 9th, 2023?

In November of 2022, the United States Postal Service (USPS) proposed new rules to amend Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail (Pub 52) that require shippers to identify shipments of hazardous materials (HAZMAT). Compliance with these rules is required by July 9th, 2023. 

A refresher on HAZMAT

According to USPS, hazardous material is any article or substance designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as being capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property during transportation. In international commerce, hazardous materials are known as “dangerous goods.” HAZMAT items include but are not limited to explosives, flammable and combustible materials, and radioactive materials. Interestingly, many electronic devices with lithium batteries are HAZMAT according to USPS. If you're unsure whether your shipment contains HAZMAT, USPS provides a helpful search tool for HAZMAT items on their website. You can also take their HAZMAT tutorial to learn how to identify, label, and handle HAZMAT goods.

Safety concerns

Fires caused by lithium batteries, whether shipped alone or within electronics, have been on the rise, causing damage to property and life. This is why USPS HAZMAT regulations outlined in Pub 52 are essential for ensuring safety and compliance. It's important to note that the shipper is responsible for following all HAZMAT regulations and ensuring their shipments are correctly identified.

Key changes that go into effect July 9th, 2023

Shippers are encouraged to implement these changes as soon as possible, but no later than July 9th, 2023. At that time, the key changes listed below will be mandatory. PLEASE NOTE, this is not an exhaustive list of changes, just a summary of the key changes. More details can be found in Pub 52.

  • Extra services will be restricted to only adult signatures or USPS Insurance.
  • Refunds for domestic Priority Mail Express will not be available for shipments containing hazardous materials if the item is delivered or delivery was attempted within three days of the date of mailing. This is because they may require different handling than those that do not contain HAZMAT. 
  • Shipping labels for HAZMAT packages will have additional content including the following (see the image below of a sample HAZMAT label): 
    • a service indicator "H" for identification
    • the words "HAZMAT - Surface Transportation Only" below the return address for surface-only packages
    • the word "HAZMAT" after "USPS TRACKING #" above the tracking barcode. 
  • Shippers are responsible for other required HAZMAT markings and documentation for packaging.
  • EasyPost will upload HAZMAT type electronic data to USPS.
  • USPS has an updated set of supported HAZMAT item types that must be identified in shipment requests.
Air eligible ethanol package
Class 1 – toy propellant/safety fuse package
Hazardous materials class 3 - package
Class 7 – radioactive materials package
Class 8 – corrosive materials package - air eligible corrosive materials
Class 8 – nonspillable wet battery package - sealed lead acid batteries
Class 9 - lithium battery marked – ground only package - new individual or spare lithium batteries
Class 9 - lithium battery – returns package - used electronic devices containing or packaged with lithium batteries
Class 9 - lithium batteries, marked package - new electronic devices packaged with lithium batteries
Class 9 – dry ice package (limited to 5 lbs. if shipped via Air)
Class 9 – lithium batteries, unmarked package
Class 9 – Magnetized materials package
Division 4.1 – mailable flammable solids and safety matches package
Division 5.1 – oxidizers package - hydrogen peroxide (8 to 20% concentration)
Division 5.2 – organic peroxides package
Division 6.1 – toxic materials package (with an LD50 of 50 mg/kg or less) - (pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
Division 6.2 hazardous materials - biological materials (e.g., lab test kits, authorized COVID test kit returns)
Excepted quantity provision package
Ground only hazardous materials
ID8000 consumer commodity package - air eligible ID8000 consumer commodity
Lighters package - authorized lighters
LTD QTY ground package
Small quantity provision package

Sample hazmat label:

sample usps hazmat label for blog

Key changes from EasyPost to support the new rules

The following changes have been made to EasyPost’s shipping API: 

  • Based on the type of HAZMAT chosen, EasyPost will create the appropriate label and restrict certain services. 
  • Items that cannot go on aircraft are limited to Parcel Select Ground, and many items cannot go international since that requires air transportation. 
  • Additionally, some extra services are not allowed. 

Our API documentation now reflects all USPS HAZMAT types and the corresponding codes to create shipments in order to safely ship HAZMAT with USPS and comply with the new rules. You can use this documentation to prepare any needed updates in your system to comply with the rule changes. You can also review our USPS guide and our FAQ Article for more information about shipping with USPS through EasyPost.

How to ensure you are compliant with USPS rules and regulations for HAZMAT shipping

All USPS HAZMAT shipments must follow all rules in Pub 52. Moving forward, be sure to know what items are considered HAZMAT and select the appropriate HAZMAT type when creating a label. Segregate HAZMAT and non-HAZMAT items when tendering to USPS. EasyPost will print the appropriate HAZMAT label and send data electronically to USPS.

What about other carriers?

It is important to note that the HAZMAT shipping changes outlined in this blog apply only to USPS shipments. Other carriers continue to have the same HAZMAT shipping functionality as before, but they may update their regulations in the future.

Get Started with EasyPost Today

EasyPost makes shipping HAZMAT through USPS simple so that you can focus on your business. Signing up for EasyPost is fast and free, use the links below to get going.

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