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Packaging
49 CFR Part 173 and 178, IATA Sections 5 and 6
49 CFR 173.24 states that the packaging for any hazardous material must be sufficient to ensure containment of the material throughout the entire transportation cycle. As a shipper, you should recognize the "conditions incident to transportation" for your selected carrier and ensure that the proper packaging is used.

Packaging hazardous materials for transport by aircraft is usually more restrictive than for transport on the ground. UPS may also require a higher level of packaging safety than that required by the DOT due to its unique system of moving packages. In addition to DOT or IATA requirements, all packages submitted to UPS for shipment must be capable of meeting the requirements of the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Procedure 3A test protocol. 

In most cases, hazardous materials must be packaged in "performance packaging." This consists of inner receptacles, cushioning and absorbent materials, and an outer packaging that has been designed, manufactured, and certified for the containment of specific hazardous material classes and packing groups. These packaging systems must be tested as designed and shipped as tested. The regulations refer to these as "specification" or "performance" packages. Such packages have distinct United Nations (UN) markings on the packaging components and can be recognized by their unique identification numbers.

Each hazardous material listed in the chemical table has an associated packaging authorization reference (the last column). This reference number relates to the specific section of 49 CFR 173 that lists the authorized inner and outer components of performance packaging.

Special care must be taken to comply with the DOT or IATA's general packaging requirements for air shipments, shown in 49 CFR 173.27. These provisions include general performance requirements for Classes 4 and 8, quantity limitations, pressure differential testing for packaging designed to contain liquids, specifications for closures and absorbent materials, quantity restrictions for inner packaging, and general provisions for handling cylinders.

UPS imposes additional requirements for packaging:

  • Always use new or like-new packaging
  • Never mix regulated items of different hazard classes or divisions in the same outside container unless specifically permitted by 49 CFR
  • UPS allows a maximum of three compatible materials in one package
  • Some hazardous materials are required to be in DOT Exemption/Special Permit Packagings for acceptance by UPS (see DOT Exemption/Special Permit Packagings)
  • Highly reactive chemicals must always be packaged alone and not mixed with any other product, regulated or unregulated

Hazardous materials shipments authorized for non-specification packaging that require a shipping paper must be in outer packages at the following minimum levels (overpacks are excluded from this requirement):

  • All packages must meet the requirements of International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Procedure 3A testing
  • Packages must be in a minimum 200 lbs. Burst Strength or 32 Edge Crush Test (ECT) certified box. The box must also be of sufficient strength to protect the contents while in transit. 
  • Any non-specification package that displays the ISTA seal indicating the package has been tested and certified to ISTA Procedure 3A is not subject to the minimum ECT or burst strength requirements


If you have any questions about shipping hazardous materials with UPS, please call the UPS Hazardous Materials Support Center 1-800-554-9964.

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