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New Mailing Standards for Separation of Hazardous Materials

Summary of changes implemented by the USPS in Publication 52 standards addressing risks posed by the transport of hazardous materials in U.S. Mail.

Cardboard boxes packages on conveyor belt

July 18, 2022

by Marjorie Fournier, regulatory affairs, UL Solutions 

Increasing consumer use of lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries has resulted in increased incidents involving mailed packages of lithium batteries and other hazardous materials. To aid in the mitigation of such incidents and equally protect the health and safety of people, property and the environment, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is adopting additional protective measures.  

The following information summarizes the important changes introduced by the USPS to Publication 52 - Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail standards. These changes are related to the separation, identification, packaging, marking/labeling and handling of hazardous material-containing packages offered for shipment to the USPS. Additionally, the Postal Service will now require pre-owned, damaged or defective electronic devices containing or packed with lithium batteries to be mailed via surface transportation (ground) only and to bear additional markings. 

Summary of changes:

USPS Interim Final Rule 39 CFR Part 111

Effective date: June 6, 2022

  • Customers are now required to separate all hazardous materials (HAZMAT), requiring marks and labels, from other non-hazardous materials when offering them to the U.S. Postal Service for shipment. Hazardous material-containing packages must be clearly marked on an exterior side as “HAZMAT.”
  • Postal personnel must now ensure that hazardous and non-hazardous materials remain separated at all points within the mail stream; acceptance, dispatch, delivery, collection, etc.
  • Pre-owned, damaged, or defective electronic devices containing or packed with lithium batteries are now restricted to shipment by surface transportation (ground) only.
    • Pre-owned electronic devices include used items sent as a result of e-commerce or private sales transactions, lost items being returned to their owner, and items sent for repair, replacement, upgrade, warranty service, diagnostics, recycling or insurance claims.
    • Pre-owned electronic devices exclude items that are in new, unopened manufacturer packaging.
  • Packages of pre-owned, damaged and defective electronic devices containing or packed with lithium batteries must now be marked with “Restricted Electronic Device” and “Surface Transportation Only.” The markings must be placed on the address side of the package, in addition to any other applicable markings.


New Mailing Standards for the Separation of Hazardous Materials - Federal Register 87 FR 34197 (06 June 2022)
Publication 52 - Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail

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