Black Friday is past, and if youre relying on Santa and his Postal Service helpers to deliver some of your gifts this year, here is a list of obvious and not-so-obvious items the man in red may or may not be willing to load on his sleigh.
1. Marijuana (prohibited)Recreational pot is legal in California. Nevertheless, it is illegal to ship marijuana or Christmas goodies containing marijuana anywhere within the U.S. Violators can be charged under federal law or the law of the state in which the cannabis shipment originated or the state to which it was delivered. Under federal guidelines, mailing as little as 50 grams of marijuana can land you in a federal penitentiary.
2. Air bags (prohibited)Air bags or any device containing an inflatable air bag cant be mailed through USPS. Air bags are considered to be miscellaneous hazardous items for their explosive potential and may be harmful to mail handlers (or elves). Air bags may be shipped by FedEx with proper hazmat labeling and must follow Department of Transportation guidelines.3. Gasoline (prohibited)If the price of gas gets too high this holiday season, shipping in from another state is not an option. Any liquid with a flashpoint of 20 degrees or below is prohibited. Gasoline has a flashpoint of -50 degrees.
4. Explosives (prohibited)On that same note, explosives, or anything containing explosive material that can cause harm or bodily damage, are prohibited. This includes but may not be limited to fireworks, dynamite, grenades and small arms ammunition.
5. Alcoholic beverages (restricted)Beer, wine and liquor may not be sent through the mail. If you want to reuse a box for shipping that has alcoholic beverage labels on it, remove all logos and labels so your package will pass through the mail system.
6. Firearms (restricted)A person without a federal firearms license may not transfer a gun to a nonlicensed resident of another state. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to any state. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind that would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the parcel. Handguns are not mailable and must be shipped by commercial carrier.
7. DRY ICE (restricted) Dry ice is permitted to be mailed when it is used to cool the contents of a package. Those containing dry ice must be packed in containers that permit the release of carbon dioxide gas. Since dry ice is about 100 degrees below zero, you should always use gloves and avoid any dares to stick your tongue to it.
8. GLUES (restricted)Besides creating a mess if they leak during shipment, 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 and may not be shipped internationally.
9. LIVE ANIMALS (restricted)Shipments of animals, including poultry, reptiles and bees, have very specific packaging requirements. Although you can drop these animals at any post office, they are only shipped when the right transportation is available. With a few exceptions, pets and warm-blooded animals may not go in the mail.
10. POISONS (restricted)Poisons are considered toxins. You are responsible for knowing the toxicity of the material you want to mail. Some poisons may be sent by air and ground transport, others only by ground. Poisons and toxic materials may not be shipped internationally.
11. CREMATED REMAINS (restricted) Cremated remains (human ashes) may be mailed domestically provided theyare in a strong, durable container and packaged properly with a “cremated remains” label. Packages must besent via Priority Mail Express service.
12. CIGARETTES & SMOKELESS TOBACCO (restricted)Most cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products may not be mailed domestically or internationally, though cigars are an exception. The package must be approved by a postal employee at a post office. Cigars may also be shipped internationally unless the country you are shipping to prohibits it.
13. PERFUMES (restricted)Perfume containing alcohol may not be shipped internationally or mailed domestically using air transportation. Perfume containing alcohol, however, may be shipped within the United States by ground.
14. NAIL POLISH (restricted)If the nail polish you want to mail is flammable, you are responsible for knowing its flashpoint and toxicity. Flammable nail polishes may be mailed if they are a consumer commodity. Some nail polishes may only be sent by ground transportation and may not be shipped internationally.
15. PERISHABLE ITEMS (restricted)Perishable items are materials that can deteriorate in the mail, such as live animals, food and plants. Permissible perishable items are sent at the mailers own risk. These items must be specially packaged and mailed so they arrive before they begin to deteriorate.
A hazardous material is any article or substance designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as being capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety or property during transportation. In international commerce, hazardous materials are known as “dangerous goods.” The knowing deposit of such matter in the mail is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment and/or other penalty.
Sources: U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives