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How to Ship Hazardous Materials

Updated: 2 days ago

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Hazardous materials, also known as HAZMAT, are materials that may cause health risks, destruction of life or buildings, or both. There are generally no tastes or odors associated with hazardous materials, and some will only be detected through physical reactions. HAZMAT shippers must follow the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA). In addition to shippers, this act applies to manufacturers who manufacture containers intended to hold hazardous materials.

There are several types of hazardous materials, including explosives, flammable gasses, and corrosive substances, but if you thought hazardous materials were items to be accompanied by a clean suit, then you are not alone! Hazardous materials are actually more common than you might think. Examples of hazardous household items include paint, nail polish, laptop batteries (lithium), and cleaning supplies.

Carrier Set Rules

The rules set out by each carrier must be followed if you are transporting hazardous materials. Similarly to tariffs, you must code your items correctly for them to be delivered. Therefore, all packages must be appropriately described, classified, labeled, and packaged correctly to carry hazardous materials. Various rules depend on which carrier you are shipping with. Regulations may also differ depending on what country you are shipping to.

Each Carriers Must-Haves for Hazmat Shipping:





Utilizing the Right Tools

HAZMAT shipping can be a daunting task. To be successful at handling hazardous materials, you need the best tools. The first step is to ensure you use the correct packaging for your material. Material Data Sheets are an essential part of this step. Hazardous Materials Tables list which materials should be shipped according to the code. Keeping it up to date and packaged correctly will help your company stay compliant.

#ShipTip: Keep a current, up-to-date Hazardous Materials Table in your warehouse to inform employees of existing requirements.

The next step is to invest in a shipping solution, like DesktopShipper, that supports the hazardous shipping process. When using a shipping solution, the software will populate an order upon scanning the SKU. The system will then alert the user that the materials are hazardous and should be handled accordingly. Following approval by your carrier or carriers, you are then ready to ship your product or products. DesktopShipper assists with hazardous shipment by warning the shipper and correctly printing the labels. This streamlines the process and reduces the chance of errors.

Avoid Fines

Shipping HAZMAT correctly is crucial to avoid significant fines. At the time of publishing this article, the maximum civil penalty is $75,000 for knowingly violating federal hazardous material transportation law. Suppose there is the destruction of property, severe injury, or results in death, the fine increases to $175,000. Training your employees is imperative to avoid those fines and keep everyone safe. How do you reduce your chance of a fine while still shipping efficiently? Use DesktopShipper.


Transporting HAZMAT is strict and for a good reason. Before one can print a label for shipments that include HAZMAT, carriers must first approve of transporting the items. Following completion of that process, you are authorized to ship, and both the employee and the carrier will be prepared for the pick up of potentially hazardous material. Worry less by using DesktopShipper, whose shipping technology allows businesses to set alerts within the system to let the shipper know that a HAZMAT item is in the order.

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