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New HAZMAT Mailing Standards

The Postal Service issued new mailing standards for the separation of hazardous materials in the mail. The new requirements took effect on June 6, the day an interim final rule appeared in the Federal Register . There is, however, a 30-day comment period.

The new standards impact international mail only in that lithium batteries in pre-owned, damaged, and defective electronic devices – which pose a particular hazard – will be prohibited in inbound and outbound international mail; mail to, from, and between overseas military and diplomatic addresses; and mail to, from, and within certain domestic locations for which the Postal Service lacks surface transportation.

The crux of the new rule is on domestic hazardous shipments and incorporates new requirements for mailers to separate, into identifiable containers, all hazardous material (HAZMAT) requiring hazardous marks or labels from other mail when tendering to the Postal Service. USPS is also adopting related standard operating procedures for the Postal Service’s acceptance, dispatch, and mail processing personnel to maintain the integrity of HAZMAT separation.

The Postal Service says in the interim final rule that misrouted and mishandled HAZMAT causes fires, spills, corrosion, and other dangers to USPS personnel and equipment, air carriers, and surface transportation providers, as well as to mailers’ property and to aircraft passengers. USPS officials have indicated this is a safety and security issue with the air carriers pressing for urgent attention, hence the immediate effective date.


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