Posted on

What Can’t I Ship Through the Mail?

When it comes to going to the post office or visiting your centralized mailbox to deliver an outgoing package, you want everything to go smoothly and for your package to reach its destination. USPS drop boxes are far less common than they were in the past, but you’ll still need to know what you can and can’t ship through the mail before your package gets returned to you or gets confiscated.

Prohibited Items. Some items are not allowed to be shipped via the USPS, and these items are typically those that are dangerous or illegal in some areas. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that shipping explosives, bullets, and flammable fuel is dangerous to you, the USPS, and anyone else who may handle such a package. These items can create additional hazards during traffic accidents and flights, including explosions and fires.

  • Items such as lighters, which contain flammable gas, and liquid oxygen, also cannot be mailed due to their hazardous nature. Some fire extinguishers also cannot be mailed.
  • Toxic gases are also prohibited for mailing in all circumstances since inhalation can cause a health hazard or even death. These are all toxic materials that boil at 68 degrees or lower.
  • Air bags are another item that can explode, so therefore, their shipment is also prohibited.
  • Alcoholic beverages also cannot be mailed due to their flammable nature, and neither can advertisements for the mailing of these products.
  • Handguns may only be sent and received by licensed dealers and manufacturers.

Other Items are Restricted. There are plenty of items that you can ship with restrictions, but they’ll require additional rules and precautions. Some can only be transported via ground vehicles, and not by airplane, such as compressed oxygen, propane in limited quantities, and butane. Special labels must be included on the packaging, and all valves must also be protected.

  • Perfumes that contain alcohol can only be shipped domestically using ground transport and cannot make use of air transport. Hand sanitizers and wipes fall under the same category and face the same restrictions, and you must visit your local post office to mail these items.
  • Safety matches, although they should only light when striking a specific surface, can only be shipped via ground transport, and only domestically. Non-safety matches cannot be shipped at all, due to their highly flammable nature.
  • Lithium batteries are subject to the same restriction and cannot be shipped via air. These batteries can be shipped with or inside of electronic devices, and the package should be labeled as ground transportation only.
  • Medications and other controlled substances fall under the restricted category. Only authorized shippers, such as manufacturers and physicians, can send prescription drugs through the mail at all, and if you’re shipping over the counter medications, you’ll need to follow certain restrictions.
  • Tobacco products can only be shipped in small quantities, and domestically, or for business purposes. Shipments to Alaska and Hawaii are also allowed, and so are returns of an unsatisfactory product. For these exceptions, you’ll need approval from a USPS employee, who will need to make sure your recipient is of legal age to receive the item.

Perishable Items. These items include food, beverages, plants, and animals shipped through the mail. While most of these items are allowed, the sender takes the risk of food spoiling, melting, or going bad before it reaches the recipient. Beverages can also leak, and plants can also die or suffer damage before reaching their destination.

Insulated packaging will help to prevent such deterioration, and cold or hot packs may be needed to keep such items in good shape.

Shipping live animals can be risky, due to temperature fluctuations. Animals will require special care with packaging. Mammals cannot be shipped as they would require care that cannot occur during shipping, and venomous animals are also prohibited with the exception of bees (if packaged correctly) and scorpions under very limited circumstances. Snakes also cannot be shipped through the USPS. Turtles, though not venomous, are also not allowed to ship through the mail.

It is possible to mail poultry, so long as they are at least one day old, and no younger. Other small animals, such as some reptiles, insects, and amphibians, may also be sent through the mail with appropriate packaging and precautions to guarantee a live arrival.

Want to Make Sure You Get Your Package?

If you’re waiting for your package to arrive, you want to make sure that it won’t get stolen or damaged after delivery. Property managers can invest in solutions such as parcel lockers to safeguard their deliveries for themselves or their tenants. If you have questions or are interested in learning more, contact us at National Mailboxes today.