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Shipping hazardous materials

What qualifies as hazardous materials

Getting a package is an exciting moment for buyers. Imagine the frustration of a buyer whose order is late, arrives damaged, or is not delivered at all. For you, as a seller, these situations can result in negative feedback, dealing with buyer complaints and defects, lower ratings, and other issues that can affect your eBay business.

But did you know that shipping delays and potential penalties could be due to the fact that you're shipping hazardous materials (hazmat) to your buyers without realizing it? 

Most packages with lithium batteries, flammable liquids (such as hand sanitizers, fragrances, nail polish removers, etc.), weapons, and perishables need to follow specific compliance rules before shipping. So, in addition to meeting the estimated delivery date and handling time, packing carefully, providing tracking and other possible efforts, make sure your package complies with eBay's policies, the regulations of the item's country of location as well as the destination country, and the carriers' rules.

Complying with hazmat requirements means correctly labeling and packaging your items in addition to abiding by eBay’s and your carrier’s specific hazmat requirements. Not following instructions could result in the carrier rejecting the package, delaying the delivery, confiscating the item and/or imposing fines.

Hazardous materials or dangerous goods

These are items that can cause harm or are dangerous during handling and transport (i.e. combustibles, carcinogens, poisons, or corrosive cleaners). They can be sent if labeled, packaged, and shipped correctly.

Restricted materials

Restricted items on eBay cannot be sold on the platform, regardless of service or carrier used. To read more about what you can and cannot sell on eBay, visit the restricted items page.

Hazmat classifications

In order to safely ship what you sell and avoid shipping delays and potential penalties, you’ll need to know if your items fit into different classifications.

Name of Hazard ClassDescription
Used electronics with lithium battery packagePre-owned, damaged, and defective electronic devices with lithium batteries
Air eligible ethanol packageAuthorized fragrance and hand sanitizer shipments
Limited quantity ground package
  • Aerosols, spray disinfectants, spray paint, hair spray, propane, butane, cleaning products, etc.
  • Fragrances, nail polish, nail polish remover, solvents, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, ethanol based products, etc.
  • Other limited quantity surface materials (cosmetics, cleaning products, paints, etc.) (marking required)
Ground only hazardous materialsFor items that are not covered in other categories but are restricted to surface only
Small quantity provision packageSmall volumes of flammable liquids, corrosive, toxic or environmentally hazardous materials — 1 oz or less (marking required)
Class 9 lithium battery marked ground only packageNew individual or spare lithium batteries (marked UN3480 or UN3090)
Air eligible ID8000 consumer commodity packageNon-flammable aerosols, flammable combustible liquids, toxic substance, miscellaneous hazardous materials
Excepted quantity provision packageSmall volumes of flammable liquids, corrosive, toxic or environmentally hazardous materials (marking required)
Class 1 toy propellant or safety fuse packageModel rocket propellant, model rocket engines, safety fuse (for fireworks, cannons, mining and military explosives)
Class 3 packageHand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, ethanol base products, flammable liquids, etc.
Class 7 radioactive materials packageSmoke detectors, minerals, gun sights, etc.
Class 8 air eligible corrosive materialsCertain cleaning or tree/ weed killing compounds, etc.
Class 8 sealed lead acid batteryNon-spillable wet battery package
Class 9 dry ice packageLimited to 5 lbs. if shipped via Air
Class 9 lithium battery with new deviceNew electronic devices packaged with lithium batteries (UN3481 or UN3091)
Class 9 lithium batteries unmarked packageNew electronic devices installed or packaged with lithium batteries (no marking required)
Class 9 magnetized materials packageSpeakers, loudspeakers, car speakers, hard disks, magnets (single or cumulative, depending on strength), electrical equipment, metal construction material, metal fencing, metal piping, aircraft parts, automotive parts, motors/engines, magnetrons
Division 4.1 mailable flammable solids and safety matches packageSafety/ strike on box matches, book matches, mailable flammable solids
Division 5.1 oxidizers packageHydrogen Peroxide 8 to 20 Percent
Division 5.2 organic peroxidesFerric nitrate, hydrogen peroxide, lead perchlorate, lithium nitrate, organic peroxide solids or liquids
Division 6.1 toxic materials packagePesticides, herbicides etc. with an LD50 of 50 mg/kg or less
Division 6.2 biological materials packageLab test kits, authorized COVID test kit returns, etc.
Lighters packageAuthorized lighters

eBay’s hazardous materials policy

This policy reflects eBay’s commitment to the safety of users by strictly adhering to government regulations for the sale and transportation of dangerous goods.

Pesticides are restricted as outlined in eBay’s Pesticides policy.

The following hazardous materials are not allowed on eBay:

  • Carcinogens
  • Class I ozone-depleting substances: carbon tetrachloride (and any product that contains it), chlorobromomethane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs), methyl bromide, and methyl chloroform
  • Class II ozone-depleting substances: hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Combustibles such as black powder, caps for toy guns, explosive fuses, fireworks, exploding targets, flares, flash paper, red phosphorous, gasoline, Thermite
  • Dinitrophenol (DNP) and any product that contains it (such as weight-loss supplements)
  • Explosives precursors including aluminum powder, ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, hydrogen peroxide above 12% weight by weight (carbamide peroxide above 34% by weight), magnesium nitrate hexahydrate, magnesium powder, nitric acid, nitromethane, nitro-fuel, potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate, potassium perchlorate, sodium azide, sodium chlorate, sodium nitrate, sodium perchlorate, sulphuric acid and urea nitrate
  • Methylene chloride (dichloromethane) and paint or coating-removal products that contain it, such as Formby’s Furniture Refinisher
  • Non-EPA-approved substitute refrigerants
  • Non-ozone-depleting substances with high global warming potential: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Poisons
  • Radioactive materials

Please take a look into eBay prohibited and restricted items policies.

Shipping carriers guidelines and regulations

Courier companies and shipping carriers set their own standards on top of the already strict regulations. Some products are prohibited by them or have restrictions on which type of shipping method may be used. For example, some types of batteries cannot be shipped through airmail. Moreover, many carriers may charge additional fees related to unexpected transportation costs for improperly packaged dangerous or restricted goods.

To sell restricted items, the seller must follow all shipping carriers guidelines and specify applicable shipping restrictions in the item description.

How to package and ship internationally new, used or manufacturer refurbished electronic devices with lithium batteries

Almost all rechargeable devices, from cell phones to power tools, contain lithium batteries and may require that you declare the package contains hazardous materials when shipping your item. 

Other commonly missed items that require special packaging are perfumes, nail polish, hairspray, cleaning supplies, firearm accessories, knives, swords, lighters, auto accessories, and plants or seeds.

Please check your carrier's hazardous materials transportation regulations.

eBay International Shipping program rules

FedEx Global shipping restrictions and prohibited items

FedEx Hazardous materials (FedEx Ground): how to ship

DHL Restricted commodities

DHL Guide to shipping batteries

One of the options for complying with regulatory compliance rules is to work with a reliable logistics company. Such a provider not only understands and is familiar with local regulations in different countries, but also keeps up to date with any regulations and low changes. In addition, your logistics partner can help in a variety of ways, such as minimizing packaging and fulfillment costs while enabling faster delivery across a broader network than would be possible independently.

Searching for professional solutions to logistic issues and shipping? Choose the service you need and contact an eBay partner directly.

How to declare hazardous materials on eBay Labels

In order to properly declare a hazardous material shipment, click Edit and then select the applicable classification from the dropdown menu. Available shipping services will be limited based on the restrictions for the type of item you are shipping.

hazmat-labels-flow

When packaging items for shipping, very specific hazmat labels may be required.

They vary by item based on a number of criteria, but are separate from the eBay Label or other shipping labels.

Not following instructions could result in delays, confiscation of the item, imposition of eBay seller restrictions or suspension, and even being fined by carrier and government agencies. 

Avoid reusing boxes with old hazmat stickers for non-hazmat items, as it could cause the package to be returned to the sender.

FAQs

Whose responsibility is it to understand and prepare hazmat shipments?

Governmental agencies consider the seller/shipper of the product responsible for understanding if your products are hazmat, how to prepare, and ship them. One of the best ways to identify if a product is hazardous is to locate its Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and check Section 14 (Transportation). A quick search online typically is able to find the relevant document.

Do I need to follow the hazmat Policy if shipping internationally?

Yes, sellers still need to follow domestic and international rules and correctly label their packages so eBay can be made aware that the shipment contains hazardous materials.

What items are classified as hazmat or dangerous goods?

There are 9 classes of hazardous materials which present different hazards in transport. Explosives, Gases, Flammable liquids, Flammable solids, Oxidizing substances, Toxic (poison), Radioactive, Corrosive, and Miscellaneous hazards. Some of these classes are broken down into divisions that define more specific attributes. Use this visual guide as an aid.

Who sets the rules for hazmat shipping?

It depends on the mode of transport. 

  • In the USA, the 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) sets the rules for shipping hazmat by land, air, and inland waterways
  • Internationally, the IMDG Code (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) creates laws for shipment by vessel. The ICAO (International Aviation Organization) & IATA (International Air Transport Association) set the regulations for air transport

Find more information at these links:

https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-49

https://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Safety/Pages/DangerousGoods-default.aspx

https://www.iata.org/en/publications/dgr/

If I follow all the rules, can a courier service still choose to reject my parcel?

Yes, couriers set their own standards on top of the already strict regulations. Couriers want to protect their employees and physical assets from harm. They may decide to forbid certain types of goods from transport on their aircraft, vessels, or trucks. For example, a few companies will not accept loose lithium batteries for transport because of fire concerns.

Are there penalties for shipping hazmat without following the regulations?

Yes, failing to comply with the relevant regulation may result in a fine, penalty, or even jail time. That’s why it’s very important to follow the rules set by governmental agencies and couriers.

What are the most common types of hazmat?

The most common types seen on eBay are: lithium batteries, perfumes, nail polish, hairspray, cleaning supplies, lighters, and auto parts. That’s not the entire list, you may have a different type of hazmat depending on what you sell.

Please take a look at all eBay prohibited and restricted items policies.

What labels are required for packages containing lithium batteries?

Package marking and label requirements vary depending on factors such as number of lithium cells or batteries and watt-hours. Please refer to your carrier company guide to understand requirements for the item you are shipping.