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Three Key Things to Know About Shipping Hand Sanitizer

Woman cleaning her hands with hand sanitizer

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 hand sanitizer or other matters, consult an attorney.

With the coronavirus pandemic turning hand hygiene into a global issue, the demand to ship hand sanitizer has never been higher. From airports and convention centers to campuses and office buildings, access to hand sanitizer has become an essential feature of life during COVID-19.

The downside of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is: They’re flammable and must be handled with care.

In fact, the classification and shipping of various types of hand sanitizer is strictly regulated by the U.S. government and other national and international authorities.

If you’re just starting the shipping process, the most important thing to know is: You – the shipper – are responsible for ensuring that you’re complying with all regulations that apply. That means, you are required to:

  • Ensure you and your employees meet any regulatory training requirements (such as those spelled out in S. Title 49 Subpart H of the Code of Federal Regulations, or the applicable rules governing your commodity. It’s interesting to note that the training requirement is the most commonly cited violation of these rules in the United States. By the way, UPS offers webinar based training for these regulations and for other rules dictated by the International Air Transport Association that govern air shipments of dangerous goods. For more information, contact your UPS sales representative.
  • Identify which classification your hand sanitizer falls under.
  • Make sure your hand sanitizer is packaged, marked, labeled and documented according to regulations.

Here are three suggestions designed to get you started on a path to safely and securely shipping hand sanitizer - whether for commercial or residential use:

1. Set up a Hazardous Materials Contract

To ship hand sanitizer with a commercial carrier, you first need to set up a hazardous materials contract with UPS.

Signing up for the UPS Hazardous Materials Contract Service is straightforward. Establish a UPS payment account—if you don’t have one already—and request to ship hazardous materials when prompted. Speak with a UPS representative if you need assistance at any point. Keep in mind, UPS customers need training and certification before they execute the UPS hazardous material service agreement.

2. Review the Service Agreement

To activate the hazardous materials contract, you must accept all items on the Dangerous Goods Agreement Checklist. You can review the checklist when setting up your UPS payment account or when updating an existing UPS account that you intend to use for shipping hand sanitizer.

Among other conditions, you should note:

  • Shippers of hazardous materials must use a UPS compliant shipping solution such as UPS WorldShip® or approved third-party software to schedule shipments and organize pickup. A hazardous materials service handling charge is applicable.

  • For small shipments of hand sanitizer within the United States (not including Hawaii and Alaska), you may not need to ship under contract. Speak with your UPS Account Executive for guidance. Hawaii, Alaska, and all offshore locations are only eligible for air shipping and must be prepared accordingly. In fact, a very common error and reason for rejection is shippers preparing ground packages for offshore locations like Hawaii and Alaska. It’s important to understand that UPS flies to these destinations and in the dangerous goods community the air transportation of dangerous goods is always more stringent than ground transportation. Shipping via air requires different preparation and different limits for the regulated commodity. 

Once you’ve agreed to the terms, your UPS account will become eligible for shipping hazardous materials. You will receive a new start kit, including hazmat supplies, to get you underway.

3. Consult with Experts

To be safe and to improve the likelihood that your hand sanitizer will reach its final destination, every shipper should have experts on hand who are trained and certified in handling hazardous materials and dangerous goods. 

For shipping in the United States only, you can get guidance on safe packaging and labeling for hand sanitizers by consulting with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration help desk at 800-467-4922. Specific UPS guidance can be found on UPS.com that contains up-to-date resources or call the UPS Hazardous Materials Support Center at 1-800-554-9964.

The UPS help desk is not able to classify or identify commodities for customers, nor can they instruct customers on preparing a shipment for transportation. However, they can evaluate regulatory requirements and provide specific details that apply to UPS shipping.

For shipments to or from outside the U.S., check details on UPS requirements on our Shipping Dangerous Goods Globally page.

Note: Shippers of hand sanitizers should be aware that both the U.S. DOT and Transport Canada have temporary exceptions to facilitate the movement of hand sanitizer in ground transport during COVID-19.  It is the shipper’s responsibility to determine if they may use one of these exceptions or other limited quantity exceptions already found in regulations (U.S. DOT, Transport Canada and ADR, for example).

After you’ve set up a hazardous materials contract, reviewed the service agreement and consulted with experts to classify the type of
hand sanitizer you’re shipping, here’s where you can go to set up a shipment:

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