Key Points:

  • You must send hazardous materials in observance of specific rules and precautions
  • Hazardous materials fall into one of nine categories
  • Most major couriers charge different shipping fees depending on if the item is accessible versus an inaccessible dangerous good

Hazardous materials add an extra set of considerations to the shipping process. Specifically, your choice of courier services and packaging is limited, which can lead to added costs. Before you ship, it’s best to learn the rules and regulations for shipping hazardous items for seamless shipping. Plus, this will help you avoid delays from safety precautions by couriers.

This blog will show you the best practices for shipping hazardous materials for a safe, frictionless shipping experience.

Easyship is an all-in-one shipping platform that helps businesses scale growth – regardless of what you’re shipping. Our network of 250+ global couriers ensures you have the best couriers, plus our discounted courier rates can save you up to 91% off shipping instantly.

Table of Contents

What are Hazardous Materials?

A hazardous material is any item that couriers deem risky to ship. As a result, you must send hazardous materials in observance of specific rules and precautions. Hazard materials fall into one of nine categories, including:

  • Explosives
  • Gases
  • Flammable liquids
  • Flammable solids
  • Oxidizers and organic peroxide
  • Toxic & infectious substances
  • Radioactive material
  • Corrosive materials
  • Miscellaneous

Couriers provide a list of hazardous materials that you can ship or cannot on their website. Some common items deemed “hazardous” you can ship are lithium batteries, medical equipment, dry ice, and magnetized objects.

Plus, depending on your hazardous item and courier service, there are different fees for shipping hazardous materials. Accessible dangerous goods are items marked as dangerous and must be easy to access to courier handles during transit. Inaccessible goods are items that don’t need to be easy to access during transit.

It’s best not to assume whether or not an item is hazardous. Violating a courier’s shipping policy can result in a hefty fine.

A quick check of the courier restrictions can save you time, money, and a guaranteed headache. Plus, you’re asked about the contents of your shipment when you create a shipping label. This way, you can avoid forgetting to declare hazardous materials in your shipment.

4 Tips to Ship Hazardous Materials

Handling hazardous materials comes with specific responsibilities like packaging regulations, filling out shipping paperwork, and more. In effect, you’ll need to pay close attention to the shipping requirements for safe shipping.

1. Determine if the item is hazardous

First, it’s essential to determine if your items are hazardous. Major couriers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS provide a list of hazardous materials they ship, plus some they don’t. Some hazardous items allowed to ship include:

  • Lithium batteries
  • Flammable liquids (i.e., perfume)
  • Hand sanitizer

Failing to declare hazardous materials can result in fines and penalties. Plus, you’d be responsible for any accident during transit if something were to happen.

2. Follow packaging protocols

Hazardous materials require extra care when it comes to packaging. Each courier lays out specific requirements for each type of hazardous material. In many cases, if the item is inadequately packaged, the courier will not accept the shipment.

The following preventive measures are recommended for shipping hazardous materials:

  • Use cushioning or padded materials: Hazardous materials are a safety risk if not handled properly, so don’t be scared to add some extra padding, so your item is nice and snug
  • Package items separately: Hazardous materials of different hazard classes need to be packaged individually to minimize damage to both items. Plus, it poses a risk to your health if damage were to occur during transit
  • Use polystyrene foam for dry ice shipments: This works well as insulation for your dry ice, so it stays safe during transit
  • Choose the correct container/box: Use good quality corrugated cardboard, plastic, or wooden boxes depending on your hazardous item (i.e., package dry ice in a cardboard box)

Your package may face moisture, extreme heat, or other weather conditions. This consideration makes it vital to properly package your hazardous items so they can withstand any severe weather. For instance, thermal bubble wrap or other cushioning materials can help protect the shipment of your hazardous materials.

3. Follow the rules for shipping

Hazardous materials can present a health and safety risk to those handling your package during transit if you don’t follow the specific shipping rules 一 making it vital to follow specific instructions.

Hazardous goods are regulated by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG), the United States Department of Transportation, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). These organizations govern the transportation of hazardous goods for a safe shipping process.

These organizations require the following for shipping hazardous materials:

  • Packages containing hazardous materials must specify the classification of the hazardous material
  • Fill out the shipper’s declaration of hazardous goods, and any other courier-specific documentation
  • The minimum markings on your shipment must include: the proper shipping name, UN number, consignee’s name, and address, and the consignor’s name and address

Say you want to ship a lithium battery. Lithium batteries need to be packaged with fully enclosed interior packaging and ample cushioning materials. This is because batteries are highly flammable and can spark fires if exposed to extreme temperatures.

Though hazardous materials follow their own requirements when it comes to packaging, you'll want to make sure you use things like cushioning materials and a sturdy box to prevent damage during transit.


4. Fill out proper documentation

You have to complete the correct shipping documentation before you start shipping away. Failure to complete the proper shipping documentation or label your package correctly will result in a hefty fine. For instance, federal hazardous materials law can charge a maximum of $75,000 for violating shipping regulations.

You’ll need to fill out a shipping declaration document stating the contents of the package. This document is crucial for sending hazardous materials and includes vital information like:

  • Address details of shipper and receiver
  • Quantity
  • The proper name of hazardous good
  • Hazard classification
  • Net weight of hazardous good

Be sure to also check with your shipping carrier for specific documentation needed for shipping hazardous materials. USPS, FedEx, and UPS allow shipping hazardous materials as long as you follow the instructions.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Hazardous Materials?

You pay a hazmat fee to cover extra handling and time costs whenever you’re shipping hazardous materials. You’ll also face different fees for shipping hazardous materials depending on your courier and the number of packages 一 except for USPS.

Most major couriers charge different shipping fees depending on if the item is accessible versus an inaccessible dangerous good.

Shipping with FedEx

FedEx requires all individuals to fill out an application in order to become approved hazardous materials shippers.

You’ll also face different fees for shipping different types of hazardous items depending on the type of item you want to send. Prices for shipping hazardous materials are broken down into two categories:

  • Accessible goods: $132.10 per shipment or $2.26 per kg, whichever is greater
  • Inaccessible goods: $75.00 per shipment or $0.75 per kg, whichever is greater

Accessible dangerous goods include items like:

  • Airbag inflators
  • Paints
  • Matches
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Inaccessible dangerous goods include things like:

  • Dyes
  • Pesticides

Unfortunately, you can’t ship hazardous materials anywhere with FedEx. Service is available in the contiguous US, but isn’t available in Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada.

Shipping with UPS

UPS charges different shipping fees depending on the type of hazardous material.  UPS also allows you to ship hazardous materials as long as you complete the correct documentation.

Below are the prices for shipping with popular UPS shipping services.

Accessible goods

  • UPS Domestic Air Services: $93 per package
  • UPS International Air Services: The greater of $146.00 per shipment or $17.53 per package
  • UPS Worldwide Express Freight Services: The greater of $146.00 per shipment or $0.79 per package

Inaccessible goods

  • UPS Domestic Air Services: $46.50 per package
  • UPS International Air Services: The greater of $72.00 or $8.64 per package
  • UPS Worldwide Express Freight Services: The greater of $72.00 or $0.39 per pound

Keep in mind that you can only ship hazardous materials within the US and specific locations outside the country. Visit the UPS website for a full-comprehensive list of places available for shipping.

Shipping with USPS

USPS doesn’t charge extra shipping fees for mailing your hazardous materials. Though it’s optional to purchase, USPS charges a standard $12.15 fee for special handling.

All USPS customers must follow the guidelines for shipping hazardous materials, including:

  • Reviewing USPS hazardous guidelines to find out if you’re allowed to ship your item
  • Complying with standard postal regulations as well as US state and federal laws
  • Pack your hazardous materials and label them correctly. All packages must be marked that the package contains a hazardous item

You can’t ship hazardous materials anywhere with USPS. Service is available in the US, though specific international guidelines vary depending on the country. USPS customers can also take their hazardous materials package to their local post office to see if one’s package is labeled correctly or if delivery service is available.

How to Pack Hazardous Materials

Whenever you’re dealing with hazardous materials, you want to make sure you give extra care, so there aren’t any accidents. Extra padding for easily moving items is always a good start for safe shipping.

Hazardous materials are generally packaged with the following packing materials:

  • Cushioning and absorbent materials (i.e., packing foam sheets)
  • Inner receptacles (i.e. a containment vessel)
  • Outer packaging that’s approved, tested, and certified for shipping a specific hazardous material (i.e., cardboard box)

While packaging your hazardous materials is vital, marking and correctly labeling your shipment is equally important. Failure to comply with labeling requirements will result in fines.

Labeling hazardous materials

Any package that contains hazardous materials must be labeled correctly. If you try to ship anything hazardous without the proper label, you will be fined. For instance, if you’re sending dry ice, you must label it so it’s visibly known the package contains dry ice.

You’ll generally need to include the following information to satisfy the hazmat requirements.

  1. Shipping name as specified by the US Department of Transportation (DOT)
  2. United Nations (UN)/ North American (NA) identification number

Connecting with a shipping platform can make shipping hazardous materials hassle-free. Easyship offers 24/7 customer service, so we’ll be there every step of the way. Plus, our shipping experts can answer any questions you may have on marking and labeling your hazardous materials package.

How Easyship Can Help

There are many things to be aware of when shipping hazardous materials. One mistake can pose severe risks to one’s health and safety if you don’t pay attention to all the rules and regulations. That’s why you’ll want to give hazardous materials some extra love and care.

As long as you follow all the packaging procedures and proper documentation, you’re ready to start shipping away. Though, connecting with a reliable shipping platform can help streamline your eCommerce business while making the shipping process hassle-free.

Connect with Easyship so our shipping experts can create a shipping strategy fit for your eCommerce needs. Our automated generator creates vital shipping documents from shipping labels to customs declarations. Plus, you’ll save up to 89% discounted shipping rates on 250+ couriers.

Ready to ship? Sign up for a free Easyship account and get started with shipping hazardous materials today.

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