The Dos and Don’ts of Shipping Hazardous Materials Via UPS

Sometimes boxes containing hazardous materials arrive at UPS stores. We cannot deliver hazardous materials from UPS retail locations. Therefore, it is important to know the dos and don’t of shipping hazardous materials via UPS so that you won’t waste your time and money.

What is a Hazardous Material

Every company that makes and ships hazardous material (e.g., acids, flammables, toxic metals, etc.) must get special approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation has a list of hazardous materials and standards that a company must have in place. The materials have to be labelled to alert the driver of the product inside the box.

Per U.S. law, UPS isn’t allowed to ship certain hazardous materials, such as ammunition, explosives, and aerosol cans, and drivers are prohibited from opening boxes with such materials inside. Companies that deal with explosive materials are not allowed to ship them via UPS at all.

The dos and don’ts of shipping hazardous materials via UPS are pretty clear, but there are still some important details to remember.

Before we talk about what to know before you ship hazardous materials via UPS, we should define what is considered a hazardous material. To do so, we will need to know some basic characteristics. For example, a hazardous material is a material that can be harmful to a human or to the environment. A hazardous substance can be a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) material.


Hazardous Materials that Cannot Be Shipped Via UPS

The company does not ship any hazardous materials. UPS will not transport hazardous materials. The shippers of these materials must request that UPS serve as their delivery service. UPS does not provide storage services for these materials, nor will it store these materials at its facilities.

The list of items that UPS does not ship includes:

Explosives or similar explosives

Guns, ammunition or other lethal devices

Flammable liquids (perfume, alcohol)

Gasoline, biofuels, or pressurized cylinders

Fire extinguishers

Units designed to disperse, contain, or extinguish a fire

Items that can be a danger to public safety

The containers or packages these materials are shipped in may be marked with instructions. Additionally, you must have the authorization to transport the materials in order for UPS to ship them.

Hazardous Materials that Can Be Shipped Via UPS

Shipping hazardous materials via UPS is not necessary for all purposes. In some cases, you might be better off shipping hazardous materials through your own private mail service or ship by the hour services. Having said that, you can ship some hazardous materials. Be sure to follow the guidelines on shipping your hazardous materials.

The hazardous materials that can be shipped via UPS include:

Tin Cans

Tanker Trucks

Flammable liquids (some restrictions apply)


Medical waste wire

Automotive batteries

Compressed gas cylinders

Flammable liquid tankers

Some information about shipping hazardous materials via UPS is given below:

If you are shipping hazardous materials via UPS you should prepare for the potential for a number of potential hazards that could occur. You need to make sure you have a current EPA Emergency Response Plan.

There is another thing to consider about shipping hazardous materials: marks on packages. The most common mark is the ORM-D label on the box. ORM stands for “other controlled materials”. It is usually on the box of AVON products. This is because AVON has perfume and other flammable items in its product line. The ORM-D material may only be returned to the shipper at the customer’s counter (i.e. hub). The staff at the customer’s counter is trained in handling hazardous materials. UPS retail locations may not accept these packages.

If you want to reuse the box sent to you, and there is an ORM-D label on the outside of the box, but you have not returned any hazardous materials, please remove the ORM-D label (without the integrity of the box). Federal regulations do not allow UPS store personnel to remove the label for you.

You can contact the Hazardous Materials Support Centre at 1-800-554-9964 if there are any questions regarding hazardous materials shipment with UPS.

In Conclusion

If you want to ship hazardous materials via UPS, it is highly advisable not to damage the box, especially if it contains hazardous materials. Otherwise, UPS will refuse to ship your hazardous materials and will ask you to return the box to its original store location. UPS claims that it cannot deliver hazardous materials via UPS retail locations because this could damage the UPS product and leave you with a return and repair cost. That’s why it is important to know the dos and don’ts of shipping hazardous materials via UPS.

We hope this article helps you broaden your knowledge. You can read general guidelines for packaging UPS shipment here.

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