The coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19, has led to a spike in demand for hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and disinfecting wipes across the world. This has created a shortage of these essential items in many brick-and-mortar stores, forcing many customers to turn to online marketplaces to source these life-saving products.
Whether you’re an eCommerce retailer trying to figure out how to ship hand sanitizer to your buyers or include it in a care package to vulnerable groups, there are rules and regulations that you must follow.
Can You Ship Hand Sanitizer? What Are The Regulations?
Yes, sanitizing products can be shipped worldwide — and that’s a good thing. But it’s not a free-for-all. There are some regulations. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes typically have an alcohol content over 70%. Since they contain flammable alcohols such as ethanol that can combust or explode, these products are classified as hazardous goods. When shipping them, you must follow the same regulations as other dangerous goods.
That said, some carriers, such as USPS and FedEx, have imposed guidelines to help regulate the unprecedented surge of hygiene supplies in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Shipping Hand Sanitizer
Each carrier has certain regulations that must be adhered to when shipping restricted items that fall under dangerous goods. Below, we discuss each carrier's regulations:
The following guidelines apply to US domestic shipments.
USPS permits the domestic shipment of small quantities of hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes in via ground transportation. However, the use of expedited shipping services, like priority mail, is prohibited when shipping the potentially flammable items.
You are also permitted to ship multiple primary receptacles as long as the total quantity of flammable materials doesn't exceed 1 pint for nonmetal primary containers or 1 quart for metal primary containers.
Here are the regulations that you should follow when shipping with USPS:
- You can only ship up to 1 pint of liquid per package using surface transportation. Cases of 12 ounce bottles or more are prohibited.
- You can send small quantities of potentially flammable hand sanitizer and other goods withUSPS Retail Ground, Parcel Select Lightweight or Parcel Select via ground transportation.
- Potentially flammable products are prohibited in Fleet Post Office, Diplomatic Post Office Mail, Army Post Office and international shipping
- You must submit a request and obtain written authorization from the product classification manager to use domestic air transportations of products that contain alcohol and could be flammable
UPS, even before the pandemic, accepted hazardous materials shipments on a contract basis, pending your business agrees to comply with the courrier’s regulatory requirements.
Here are the regulations you should be aware of when shipping with UPS:
- UPS accepts non-bulk quantities of dangerous goods for transport by highway-rail or air modes within the US and specific locations outside the US.
- Shipments must be prepared following Hazardous Material Regulation (HMR) issued by the US Department of Transportations, or by the International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for air shipments.
- UPS prohibits hazardous material shipments at the UPS store, commercial counters, UPS Customer Centers, Authorized Shipping Outlets or Air Letter Centers.
To make things easier, UPS provides a Dangerous Goods Acceptance tool that gives you more details such as the maximum quantities and the level of danger posed by your shipments.
Additionally, you need to be aware that all packages containing hazardous materials require a Shipper's Declaration for Dangerous Goods. Plus, additional handling fees may apply depending on the contents.
FedEx accepts approved shipments containing dangerous materials within the US. According to FedEx, shippers must be trained on sending dangerous goods. If not, another person or company with the appropriate training must prepare the shipment on your behalf.
Here are the guidelines you should follow when shipping with FedEx.
- You can ship hand sanitizers that have been prepared under the PHMSA temporary relief notice via FedEx Ground.
Shipments containing up to 70% ethyl alcohol must meet the following requirements:
- In glass-inner receptacles: Must contain 0.23 liters or less of hand sanitizer. With the company name and the words "contains ethyl alcohol" marked on the package. Glass inner receptacles may be shipped up to 0.47 liters.
- The non-glass inner receptacle should contain 0.47liters or less of hand sanitizer
Shipments with more than 70% ethyl alcohol must meet the following shipping requirements:
- The inner receptacle contains 8 ounces or less of hand sanitizer
- The total quantity of hand sanitizer should be 192 ounces or less per package
- Gross package weight of 66 pounds or less per package
- Inner packaging must be secured and cushioned within the exterior packaging to prevent any product movement, leakage or breakage in transit.
The following guidelines apply to international shipments.
DHL ships dangerous goods prepared following the pre-established Dangerous Goods regulations, like ICAO or IATA. Goods must be correctly packaged, marked and labeled and have all the required documents completed. Dangerous goods shipments typically come with additional handling charges.
How to Safely Pack Hand Sanitizer For Shipping
The next piece of the puzzle is safely packaging your goods for shipping. Here is a step by step guide on how to do exactly that:
- Use the adequate type of packing material such as bubble wrap or air pillows to provide sufficient cushioning and insulation around the bottles.
- Next, line the bottom of the secondary packaging with an absorbent material, such as a rag or hand towel, in the event of any leakage during transportation.
- Arrange the bottles inside the secondary packaging with the lids facing up and fill any empty spaces with more bubble wrap or air pillows to restrict any movement inside the box.
- Seal the box securely with packing tape, and put permanent markings on both sides with insoluble material that cannot be rubbed to show which side is up.
- Print and affix a shipping label on the side of the package with a clear warning sign such as "Ground Transportation only,” or " Hazardous goods. Handle with care."
What about International Shipping?
All the major carriers have their regulations on how dangerous goods should be packaged and mailed, which existed before COVID-19. You need to check with your carriers for up-to-date information and regulation concerning their stand on how to ship hand sanitizer internationally.
For example, USPS doesn't allow international shipments of hand sanitizer because the bottles contain trace amounts of flammable alcohol. But this regulation didn't start when Covid-19 hit, and is not specific to shipping any product in particular. Any item containing any amount of alcohol cannot be mailed internationally via the US Postal Service.
Know the Restriction for Shipping Sanitizers, Wipes, and Other Hazardous Items
The demand for sanitizing products is high due to the ongoing pandemic. As many customers are turning online to source these important supplies, every eCommerce retailer selling these products should know the restrictions surrounding the shipping of hand sanitizers, wipes and other goods that contain potentially hazardous materials.
When in doubt, the Easyship team has you covered. With our turnkey shipping platform, eCommerce merchants gain access to a multi-courier network, easily label generation and full landed rates at checkout.
Want to get started shipping domestically? Get a quote for free using our shipping calculator.
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