USPS Shipping Restrictions // [Comprehensive Guide]
When you head down to the post office to send something in the mail, you might think that you can send anything through the mail. However, that is not the case! The postal service has rules about the types of items that can be sent through the mail. Some items are completely prohibited, while others must follow certain packaging rules to be sent through the mail. If you need to know the rules when it comes to shipping items through USPS, then just keep reading. We will give you all the details about the USPS shipping restrictions and what those rules might mean for you when you head to the post office.
USPS Shipping Restrictions Overview
The postal service’s shipping restrictions are in place for a couple of reasons. These restrictions exist mostly for safety reasons. The post office wants to make sure that hazardous materials do not find their way into the mail system. These types of items can be dangerous to both the mail workers and the recipients of these packages. Similarly, perishable items generally have special rules that apply to them. Perishable mail can go bad during transport and cause damage to other packages.
Many of the items that are regulated by the postal service are regulated because of local and state laws. Many states prohibit the transport of certain items and materials; therefore, the post office must not transport those items. California has extremely strict regulations when it comes to prohibited items. In fact, California laws are responsible for over 10% of the total restrictions in place at the post office.
Restricted Items VS. Prohibited Items
Just because an item might be considered dangerous does not mean that it is completely prohibited. You might find that you only need to follow special rules when attempting to send certain items. Prohibited items are items that can never be sent through the mail. If you attempt to send a prohibited item, then you could face fines and even criminal prosecution. However, restricted items may be mailed, but they must follow special disclosure or packaging rules when sending them.
It is also worth noting that there are different rules for domestic and international shipments. The types of items that can be mailed domestically are slightly different from the items that can be mailed internationally. Here are all the rules that you need to know about both restricted and prohibited items as well as domestic and international shipping.
— Domestic Restricted Items
The items in this section are restricted inside of domestic shipments. If you are sending these items within the United States, then you will need to make sure that you follow all the rules associated with the item that you are attempting to send. Shippers should know that even some non-hazardous materials are regulated. As you might expect, flammable and corrosive items are highly regulated because they can be dangerous. The following items are restricted in domestic shipments.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Cremated Remains
- Dry Ice
- Fragile items
- Hand Sanitizer
- Hemp products
- Lithium batteries
- Live animals
- Medicine & Prescription Drugs
- Nail polish
- Perishable items
Note that some items, like alcohol, have extremely strict regulations. Many people wonder if you can ship alcohol through USPS. Alcohol beverages are basically prohibited, although some forms of non-intoxicating liquors can be sent. This could be certain types of cold remedies or cooking wine. Alcoholic beverages can be sent through UPS or FedEx, but strict rules apply there as well.
— Domestic Prohibited Items
The items in this section are completely prohibited when it comes to domestic shipments. Do not attempt to mail any of the items listed in this section, as it could land you in serious trouble. You could be subject to fines and penalties – even including jail time! The United States postal service has the right to inspect your packages if they suspect that you are mailing prohibited items, so you should never attempt to sneak any of these items into your mail. Here are the domestic prohibited items.
- Air Bags
— International Restricted Items
When it comes time to ship items internationally, the rules get a little more strict. Some of the rules in this section are due to the fact that certain destination countries ban items that might be allowed in other countries. Here are the items that must meet certain requirements to be mailed internationally.
- Cremated Remains
- Lithium Batteries
- Live Animals
- Medicines & Prescription Drugs
- Perishable Items
— International Prohibited Items
You will notice that the list of international prohibited items is much larger than the domestic prohibited items. Many items that are restricted in domestic shipments are completely prohibited in international shipments. Here is the full list of prohibited items in international USPS shipments.
- Air Bags
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Dry Ice
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Hemp-based products (including CBD)
- Marijuana (medical or otherwise)
- Nail Polish
- Perfumes (containing alcohol)
USPS Media Mail Shipping Restrictions
Not only does the post office restrict certain items for safety reasons, but they also have restrictions in place for certain types of service. Media Mail is one of the services that have strict rules. Media Mail was originally started as an inexpensive method for people to send educational materials to others. Today, media mail still has the same purpose, although the types of items that can be sent through media mail have greatly expanded.
Media Mail can be used to send books, sheet music, computer-readable media, test materials, medical information on loose-leaf sheets for medical students, CDs or DVDs containing educational material, and other items. Media mail service cannot be used for items like comic books, school supplies, empty binders, and video games. The post office reserves the right to inspect your mail pieces sent through media mail, so you should not attempt to sneak anything into a package that is not allowed in media mail.
First-Class And Priority Mail Restrictions
In addition to the items already mentioned, there are also other restrictions when it comes to first-class and Priority mail. These additional restrictions deal more with maximum weight and size for packages. When it comes to first-class mail, your letters can weigh no more than 3.5 oz. In addition, larger envelopes and parcels can weigh no more than 13 oz.
Priority mail allows packages that are larger and heavier. Priority mail and Priority mail Express can be used to send items that weigh up to 70 pounds. However, the length, width, and girth of the mailer cannot exceed 108 inches. Many people choose to use a flat rate box or flat rate envelope to ensure that they are meeting the rules when it comes to size limits for ground transportation.
The Bottom Line
When you get ready to send something through USPS, you need to know that many regulations and prohibitions apply to both international and domestic shipping. Being aware of the rules will help prevent you from including anything in your shipments that should not be there. Review the lists that we have mentioned here to make sure that your shipments comply with all the postal rules. Failure to do so can get you in big trouble!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the maximum weight that USPS will ship?
The maximum weight depends on the type of USPS service that you are using. For first-class mail, the weight cannot exceed 13 oz. However, with Priority Mail, you can send packages that weigh up to 70 pounds. If you need to send a package that is heavier than 70 pounds, then you will need to use a different carrier like UPS, FedEx, or DHL.
What liquids can be shipped USPS?
Many different liquids may be shipped through USPS. You can send items like hand sanitizer, perfume, beverages, paint, nail polish, and other liquids. However, many of those items must meet specific rules when being shipped. Other liquids, like alcoholic beverages or gasoline, can never be sent through the postal service.
What can you not ship in a package?
You can never ship any of the items listed in the USPS prohibited items. This list differs slightly depending on whether your package is a domestic shipment or an international shipment. You can never ship alcoholic beverages, gasoline, marijuana, or a few other items. If sending internationally, then this list gets quite a bit larger.