Carrier Compliance 101: How to Ship Hazardous Materials
While specific carriers often have their own HAZMAT requirements beyond government regulations, there are industry-wide standards around shipping hazardous materials. Merchants who ship any products containing items classified as hazardous need to be aware of these rules and regulations because they are responsible for following them to minimize any safety concerns during transportation.
In this first post of our Carrier Compliance 101 blog series, we’ll cover a) what’s considered hazardous, b) how to ship those materials, and c) how our team can support you if you need to ship any packages containing hazardous materials.
What is a hazardous material?
Hazardous materials – or HAZMAT – are any substances that may pose a health and safety risk to people, places. or things. Special considerations – such as the use of specific packaging materials and package labeling, and recognizing quantity restrictions – must be adhered to when shipping any item that falls under the HAZMAT category.
All in all, there are nine classes of hazardous materials – including gasses, flammable solids, oxidizers, and corrosives – and each has its own regulations and carrier restrictions. While you may not think these classes pertain to your specific merchandise, it’s crucial to be aware of the common as well as the not-so-common items that fall into these categories – just in case.
For example, while items such as dry ice, car batteries, fireworks, and pesticides may seem obviously hazardous, others such as laptops or cell phones containing lithium batteries, certain perfumes, some camping equipment, and paints also fall under the HAZMAT category, and therefore anyone shipping these types of items must follow the necessary compliance rules.
It should also be noted that for legal, regulatory, or health and safety reasons, there are certain items that every carrier prohibits transporting.
How to ship hazardous materials
As mentioned above, you as the shipper are responsible for correctly preparing and declaring a HAZMAT shipment. Step by step, here is what that process looks like:
- Classify the item using the Hazardous Materials Table
- Use proper packaging according to the product specifications
- Apply labels and markings to the package as required
- Create shipping papers or a safety data sheet containing needed product information
- Adhere to unique carrier-specific policies and contractual service obligations
Shippo users who are planning on shipping Hazardous items with USPS must declare so at the time they purchase the label by simply navigating to “package options” and selecting the HAZMAT box. Check out our most recent blog on USPS HAZMAT shipping changes. If you plan on shipping hazardous materials via UPS or FedEx, you must have your own carrier account and your own agreement with those carriers before shipping those items.
Shippo customers who need help shipping hazardous materials – or who are wondering whether or not an item is considered HAZMAT in the first place – can reach out to our shipping and compliance experts. Not a Shippo customer? Sign up for a free account to get access to our top-notch support team, as well as discounted rates from across our extensive carrier network, streamlined fulfillment workflows, and more.