Shipping Restrictions – What Can You Send in the Mail?

What you may ship domestically is regulated by U.S. and USPS® guidelines. Here, you’ll find important tips and information on items that are prohibited (completely forbidden) and restricted (only allowed under certain conditions). If you think your item may be prohibited or restricted or have more questions, see full explanations in USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, & Perishable Mail.

If you’re shipping internationally, see International Shipping Prohibitions & Restrictions.

ALERT: Learn about shipping hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

All USPS customers are responsible for:

  1. Reviewing USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, & Perishable Mail to find out if your item is mailable.
  2. Complying with Postal Service regulations and U.S. laws and regulations.
  3. Packing your package securely and marking it as required.

These items may not be sent in U.S. mail:

  • Air Bags
  • Ammunition
  • Explosives
  • Gasoline
  • Marijuana (medical or otherwise)

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Examples of mailable gases and aerosols include propane, butane, and fire extinguishers. Make sure you read about the specific rules and restrictions for sending mailable gases.

List of Mailable Gases

Beer, wine, and liquor may not be sent through the mail, except in limited circumstances.

Please note, if you want to reuse a box that has alcoholic beverage labels on it, remove all logos and labels so your package will pass through the mail system.

Exceptions for Mailing Intoxicating Liquors

Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are restricted items and can only be mailed in limited circumstances. Cigars may be mailed domestically. Customers are advised to review the Cigarettes, Cigars, and Tobacco Definitions and Mailability.

Exceptions for Mailing Cigarette & Smokeless Tobacco

Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are mailable only in the below circumstances:

  • Intra-Alaskan and intra-Hawaiian shipments
  • Business/regulatory purposes
  • Small-quantity “gift” shipments to individuals
  • Individual returns of an unacceptable tobacco product to a manufacturer

Other Shipping & Packaging Requirements

Allowable cigarette or smokeless tobacco shipments must be approved by a Postal employee at a Post Office™. The Postal employee will verify that an individual recipient is of legal age to receive the shipment.

Tobacco Shipments to APO/FPO/DPO

When shipping to APO/FPO/DPO locations in foreign countries, USPS treats the mail as domestic mail, but shipping is still subject to those foreign countries’ prohibitions and restrictions. Customers should be aware that size and weight standards may differ from USPS standards. See International Country Listings to find country-specific prohibitions and restrictions.

USPS® is the only shipping company that ships cremated remains (human or pet ashes). You may ship cremated remains domestically but must use Priority Mail Express®. Make sure the inner primary container is strong, durable, and properly sealed. For the outer shipping package, you must use one of our two Cremated Remains Kits or use your own strong, durable container properly packaged and labeled with Cremated Remains Label 139 on all four sides of the box, plus top and bottom. Order free cremated remains shipping supplies on The Postal Store®.

Watch How to Ship Cremated Remains Safely Video
Publication 139 – How to Package & Ship Cremated Remains
Other Guidelines on Shipping & Packaging Cremated Remains

Dry ice is permitted to be mailed when it is used as a refrigerant to cool the content of a mailable hazardous or nonhazardous material. Packages containing dry ice must be packed in containers that permit the release of carbon dioxide gas.

Shipping Dry Ice Rules & Restrictions

Only licensed manufacturers and dealers may mail or receive handguns. Even though unloaded rifles and shotguns are mailable, mailers must comply with applicable regulations.

Additional Information on Mailing Firearms

Ordinary items that are breakable or fragile do not need special handling if they are packed with the right cushioning and marked clearly with the word, “FRAGILE.” You may add Registered Mail® to your delivery to further protect valuable or irreplaceable items.

Insurance & Extra Services

Glues have a wide range of flashpoints. You are responsible for knowing the flashpoint and toxicity of the glue you want to mail. Flammable glues may be mailed if they are a consumer commodity. Some glues may only be sent by ground transportation. Glues are categorized as “adhesives” in the below resources.

Shipping Flammable & Combustible Liquids
Packaging Instructions for Combustible Liquids

To ship hand sanitizers including wipes, you must use USPS Retail Ground, Parcel Select, or Parcel Select Lightweight. These services are only available through your local Post Office™ branch.

Most hand sanitizers, including wipes, contain alcohol and are flammable in nature and are therefore handled and shipped as hazardous mater (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.

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.

Update: During this period of increased demand, mailers can obtain an exception through the Manager, Product Classification to increase the quantity of items containing ethyl and isopropanol alcohol sent via surface transportation. Mailers can also be granted an authorization by the Manager, Product Classification to ship limited quantities of ethanol alcohol in domestic air transportation. For full details, see Mailability of Hand Sanitizer Update (April 14, 2020).

Additional Resources
Publication 52-Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail Packaging Instructions 3A

For domestic mailings only, small consumer-type primary lithium cells or batteries (lithium metal or lithium alloy) like those used to power cameras and flashlights are mailable domestically under certain conditions.

Shipping Lithium Batteries

Except in limited circumstances, pets and warm-blooded animals may not go in the mail. Shipments of live animals, including poultry, reptiles, and bees, have very specific packaging requirements. Although you can drop these animals at any Post Office™ location, they are only shipped when the appropriate transportation is available.

Regulations on Shipping Live Animals

Safety Matches

Safety matches have treated match heads that will only ignite when struck against a specially prepared surface like a match book, card, or box. Safety matches must be sent via ground transportation and cannot be mailed internationally.

Additional Information on Mailing Safety Matches

Strike-Anywhere Matches

Strike-anywhere matches will light from friction against any surface. Strike-anywhere matches may not be mailed domestically.

When sending medicine or drugs through the mail, mailers and shippers must know the characteristics of the items they are sending and treat them correctly. Medicines are controlled substances and are subject to strict regulations. Prescription medications may only be mailed by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registered distributors. Similar regulations apply to some over-the-counter medications.

Shipping Controlled Substances & Drugs

Flammable or combustible paint and paint-related items are generally accepted for mailing, provided the material can qualify as a consumer commodity material or ORM-D (for surface only), and is sent within the quantity limitations and packaging requirements. Latex Paint or a similar water-based paint product that is not flammable or combustible is not regulated as a hazardous material, and therefore, is not restricted.

Additional Information on Mailing Paint

Perishable items are materials that can deteriorate in the mail, such as live animals, food, and plants. Permissible perishable items are sent at the mailer’s own risk. These items must be specially packaged and mailed so that they arrive before they begin to deteriorate.

Shipping Perishable Materials Guidelines

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