USPS Content Restrictions

For the safety and security of USPS personnel, USPS has declared certain items to be restricted or even outright banned from entering the mailstream. This is meant to protect not only USPS personnel but you and the rest of the United States public as well. The lists below are not exhaustive. For full details, see USPS Publication 52: Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

Currently, shipments containing hazardous materials can only be shipped when USPS Ground Advantage has been selected as a service with Stamps.com.

Items Allowed in Limited Quantity

Many of these items are allowed in the mail in limited quantities and only under conditions that minimize whatever risk that the substance may pose to Postal employees, property, or the public.

Cannot Ship Airmail or International

This icon indicates that an item cannot be shipped via airmail or nor can it be shipped internationally:

2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item.
  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Aerosol cans

  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Propane or camp-stove-fuel in pressurized cans or tanks

  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Spray Paint

  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Compressed Air or nitrogen

  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, or acetone

  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Paint

  • Non-concealable firearms such as rifles

    The firearm must be unloaded, and the package cannot have any markings indicating contents. You may be asked to open the package at the time of mailing to verify that the gun is unloaded. Ammunition cannot be shipped through the mail.

  • Heirloom and antique (pre-1898) firearms.

    The firearm must be unloaded.

  • Non-illegal drugs and medicines that are not considered controlled substances (must meet all State and Federal laws, no markings on the package may indicate the contents)

  • Battery-powered items, such as toys or clocks

    The battery must be removed from the item. If the battery meets mailing requirements, it can be shipped with the item.

  • Knives, razors, and other sharp instruments (Some knives, such as "switchblade" knives, are heavily restricted. Some may also be illegal to possess in certain cities and states. Please be certain of the local legal situation before mailing.)

  • Fresh Fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh or frozen meat or fish, and live plants (generally mailable domestically, may be subject to quarantine/refusal depending on state law, check with your local Post Office for current status.)

  • 2 Icons: a globe and package, then an airplane. Both crossed out, as the services are not permitted for this item. Hand sanitizer - To ship hand sanitizers including wipes, you must use USPS Retail Ground or Parcel Select Lightweight. These services are only available through your local Post Office™ branch.

    Most hand sanitizers, including wipes, contain alcohol and thus are flammable. Therefore these products get handled and shipped as hazardous material (HAZMAT) in the US Mail™. As flammable materials, these products are limited to surface-transportation-only in domestic mail. It is prohibited to send these materials by International Mail, including APO/FPO/DPO (military) destinations.

Possible flammable products? Check with the manufacturer.

If you are unsure whether or not the product that you are shipping is flammable, please check with the manufacturer of the product before mailing it.

Many of these items must bear a Consumer Commodity: Other Regulated Materials - Domestic (ORM-D) label prominently on the mailpiece. These items may need special shipping manifests, other labeling/warnings, or prior permission from the USPS or other Federal agencies (such as the Department of Transportation). Before mailing, please check with your local Post Office or the USPS website for further details.

Items Never Allowed by the USPS

These items can never be placed in the mail. Any attempt to present them for mailing may result in your package being refused, confiscated, or destroyed and could make you liable for federal prosecution.

  • Any item that is illegal under the laws of the United States of America or any State, Territory, or Possession, or if shipping internationally, the laws of any destination or waypoint nation. Please check carefully the laws of your destination nation, as well as the International Mail Manual. In most cases, the IMM does not list all things illegal within the destination country.

  • Handguns or other firearms that can be concealed, whether assembled or disassembled

    (Except between Federal-Firearms-License-holding firearms dealers as part of a sale to an end buyer, or from an FFL dealer to certain members of the military or law enforcement. When allowed, no markings on the mailpiece may indicate contents, and the gun must be unloaded.)

  • Any sort of firearms ammunition (EXCEPTION -- inert bullets with no cartridge or powder are allowed)

  • Alcoholic beverages of any sort with an alcohol content 0.5% by weight or greater. The only exceptions are cold remedies containing alcohol, mouthwash containing alcohol and potable but non-taxable alcohol not intended as a beverage (such as cooking sherry)

  • Tobacco products of any kind, with the exceptions of highly limited amounts mailed from an adult to an adult as a gift or returns of damaged or defective tobacco products to a licensed manufacturer. If the shipment qualifies, language on the package must declare that the contents can only be accepted by someone 21 or older.

  • Gasoline (Non-mailable under any circumstance)

  • Explosives and fireworks

  • Hydrogen Peroxide when over 20% solution

  • Tear Gas, pepper spray, and other chemical irritants

  • Liquid-cell batteries (If they are "non-spill" they may be mailable if they meet certain requirements.)

  • Any item containing mercury, including thermometers

  • Legal narcotics and other controlled substances (the only exception is in cases where special authorization has been granted)

  • Most live mammals and birds (a few exceptions apply for live poultry)

  • Any mail packaging that clearly advertises the contents as any of the above, even if the package does not contain the items in question (e.g., reusing an old wine box for shipping).

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