USPS Simplifies Rules for Ethanol-based Flammables
First, to ship flammable liquids or solids by air using the new, simplified USPS marking and shipping paper rules, shippers still must:
- Obtain written authorization from the USPS Product Classification manager. The rules for requesting approval are found in Publication 52, 343.27 “Authorization to Mail Ethanol-Based Flammable Liquids or Solids”;
- Comply with the USPS packaging requirements for ethanol-based flammables materials found in Publication 52, Appendix C, Packing Instruction 3D; and
- Mark the mailpiece with the complete company name, return address, delivery address, and the statement “Contains Air-Eligible Ethyl Alcohol – Authorization No. ____” in 14 point type.
New Reliefs for Air-eligible Ethanol-based FlammablesTo simply the requirements for shipping perfumes and other air-eligible ethanol-based flammables, USPS removed a number of requirements for marking and documenting these mailpieces.
Under the revised rules, USPS air shipments of eligible ethanol-based flammable liquids and solids no longer require:
- ID Number marking (ID 8000);
- Proper Shipping Name marking (“Consumer Commodity”);
- Hazmat labels; and
- Declaration of dangerous goods affixed to the outside of the mailpiece
See the official USPS release here for more information on the simplified shipping requirements for certain ethanol-based flammable materials.
Businesses that ship hazardous materials in the US by common carriers like FedEx or UPS must comply with the US DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) found at 49 CFR 171–181 et al.
Publication 52 vs. 49 CFR – What’s the Difference?
Shipments by USPS are exempted from US DOT hazmat rules, but must instead be prepared in line with the requirements in Publication 52. The “Pub 52” requirements generally mirror 49 CFR, but also include additional restrictions and prohibitions. For instance, USPS typically accepts for transport only volumes of hazmat that meet the definition of a “limited quantity.”
As of July 7, 2014, the unique USPS hazmat rules are incorporated into Publication 52 from the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), Section 8.0, “Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail.”
49 CFR HarmonizationThe US DOT hazmat rules contain a relief for ethanol-based flammables that’s very similar to the new relief from USPS, at 49 CFR 173.150(g). This 49 CFR hazmat relief began as a DOT Special Permit which was ultimately adopted into the text of the HMR for all eligible shippers to use. USPS often updates its Publication 52 hazmat rules to more closely resemble the 49 CFR requirements.
In July 2016, USPS updated the Publication 52 rules to harmonize with changes made to the DOT rules in 2009—including the addition of the “E” marking for excepted quantities.
In February 2017, Publication 52 was revised to update the rules for shipping lithium batteries.
Be confident your employees know their responsibilities for 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code compliance! Initial and recurrent online courses are available to help you meet DOT’s 3-year training mandate for hazmat employees at 49 CFR 172.704. The IATA DGR requires hazmat training for air shippers once every 24 months (IATA DGR 1.5).
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