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A Beginner's Guide to Perfume Shipping

A couple laughs while sampling perfume in a shop.

Editor's note: The following article is intended as general information only and is not legal advice. If you have questions concerning legal requirements for shipping perfume or other matters, consult an attorney.

Are you thinking about shipping perfume but unsure what this means in practice? The rules governing the transportation of perfumery products may seem complex at first sight.

Fortunately, resources are at hand to get your delicate fragrances safely to their destination. Here are nine things you should know about how to ship perfume in a compliant way.

1. Perfumery Products can be Dangerous Goods

The first thing to understand is most perfumes are alcohol based and it is the flammability of alcohol that can result in your perfume being classified as Dangerous Goods.

As dangerous goods, the commodity is subject to regulation both domestically and internationally, explains Antonio Gonzalez, UPS Manager Regulated Goods.

As the shipper, you must familiarize yourself with these regulations and meet all necessary requirements.  While the manufacture of perfume may stretch back thousands of years in what has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, safety remains paramount in transit.

It’s you as the shipper (not the carrier, in this case UPS) who is responsible for properly understanding and following the rules, from the classification of goods to packaging regulations.

2. Understand the Product Categories

When you think of perfumery products, different descriptions may jump to mind—perfume, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, to name a few.

These categories are designated according to the concentration of perfume oils and alcohol in the solution. Perfume (or parfum), for example, has a higher level of concentrates than eau de parfum, which in turn is more concentrated than eau de toilette. Eau de cologne is less concentrated again. 

Review the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for product details. Regardless of its category, your perfumery shipment remains regulated as dangerous goods due to its alcohol content.

3. Know the Training Requirements

Whether you’re fulfilling an e-commerce order overseas or freight shipping a batch of perfume to a distribution center in another state, it’s your responsibility to understand the training requirements that apply to your product.

As a regulated commodity, perfume shippers must undergo Dangerous Goods training. Exactly what form of training is required will depend on your circumstances, Gonzalez says.

In one scenario, the shipper of a fully regulated UN1266 Perfumery Product would require training in the United States under 49 CFR 172 Subpart H and/or under International Air Transport Association rules, IATA Subsection 1.5

By contrast, the most relaxed training for this commodity is granted under 49 CFR 173.150(g), an exception that applies to U.S. domestic shipments only. “A shipper who qualifies for this exception must still be aware of the requirements and limitations outlined in the exception,” he states.

Fortunately, there are numerous Dangerous Goods (DG) training providers on the market to help you understand the regulatory landscape. UPS offers shippers its own Dangerous Goods training, which includes perfumery products.

4. Classify your Perfumery Product

A key aspect of Dangerous Good training is classification. Perfumes are typically classified as UN1266, Perfumery products, Class 3, Packing Groups II or III under the U.S. 49 CFR and IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).

In certain circumstances, however, reclassification is possible. For eligible perfumery products, there are several exceptions available, too.


A common reclassification is the globally recognized ID8000, Consumer Commodity, Class 9. This reclassification assumes that a specific commodity meets the definition of Consumer Commodity as outlined in the regulations.

Refer to the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for proper classification, checking Section 14 titled ‘Transportation.’

Limited Quantity Exception

The ground transportation of perfumery products may qualify for the Limited Quantity exception. “This offers significant relief from the full requirements, but still mandates training, packaging, quantity limits, and marking of the package,” Gonzalez explains.


Another notable exception for the ground and air transportation of perfumery products within the United States is 49CFR173.150(g) 

This exception is specific to perfumery products that only contain Ethyl Alcohol as a regulated substance in the solution. It represents a complete reclassification of the commodity to a non-regulated material.

With 49CFR173.150(g), the shipper must remain aware of the reference material, validate that their commodity qualifies, and stay within the stated limitations. In some instances, a marking is required.

5. Understand the Appropriate Packaging

Perfumery products require specific packaging minimums, which vary by applicable regulation. A wide range of configurations exist, from UN Performance Oriented Packaging to regulatory requirements for strong outer packaging.

General principles applied to all hazardous materials include ensuring that:

  1. The inner containers are properly sealed to prevent leaking.
  2. The contents are properly secured to avoid shifting and possible damage in transit.
  3. The package stays within the allowed quantity limits.
  4. The contents don’t exceed the capacity of the packaging.

Dangerous Goods training covers regulations around packaging.

6. Get your Communications Right

What kinds of communications must perfume shippers be aware of?

At one end of the spectrum, your shipment may be fully regulated and require UN Performance Oriented Packaging, markings, labels, and documentation. On the other end, you may have no communication requirements under certain exceptions in the United States.

Shippers must understand the regulations governing their commodity and the communications required for transportation.

7. If You’re Shipping Perfume Internationally

Different rules apply depending on where you’re shipping in the world. Do your research with your destination market in mind.

Check out a range of resources for shipping dangerous goods internationally on UPS.com, along with a variety of information offered by IATA.

Industry groups such as COSTHA (Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles) and DGAC (Dangerous Goods Advisory Council) are also good starting points.

 Carrier variations

Be aware of any country-level or carrier variations that apply to your international shipment. A variation is where the rule is more restrictive than the applicable regulations allow.

A carrier variation may restrict the countries that the carrier services for dangerous goods or set maximum limits per package more stringent than international regulations permit.

8. Avoid Common Mistakes

For the Dangerous Goods community at large, the most cited violation is a lack of required training, according to Gonzalez.

Other frequent mistakes when shipping perfume and other dangerous goods include:

  • not completing the required documentation correctly.
  • mistakes with markings.
  • labeling errors.

Your Dangerous Goods training is designed to help you understand and comply with all applicable regulations, from documentation to packaging and communications.

9. Set up your Account

Once you have met the appropriate regulatory training, you may apply for a UPS Dangerous Goods Account, which is required to ship dangerous goods.  

Speak with your UPS sales representative to determine the exact steps to take, depending on the specific products you plan to ship. 

The proper classification and compliant preparation of goods for shipment remains the shipper’s responsibility.

Get Started with Perfume Shipping

The world is a more fragrant place because of perfume. Once you understand the regulatory landscape and fulfill the training requirements, access UPS’s deep expertise and vast resources for all your perfume shipping needs.

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