holiday shipping FAQs

With so many people celebrating the holidays at home this year, there’s no doubt that a lot of gifts will be sent through the mail. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering whether it’s possible to ship a relative a nice bottle of whiskey, or send perfume to a special lady in your life. Get all of the answers to these holiday shipping FAQs, and more, below.

Can I Ship Alcohol?

For many people, the most thoughtful, grown-up Christmas gift is a fancy bottle of wine, whiskey, bourbon, or miscellaneous indulgence.

Unfortunately, if you’re socially distancing this holiday, you’ll have to come up with a different idea. No alcohol may be sent through the USPS, UPS, or FedEx, except in certain limited, extenuating circumstances. To be more specific, you can usually ship items with an alcohol content of .5% or less, like mouthwash and cooking wine. College kids beware: if you can’t find a regular box, you won’t be able to use a box from the liquor store.

Mail carriers will reject items that are shipped in an alcohol-branded box, regardless of what’s inside. (You’re better off just ordering some unbranded Richmond packing supplies.)

Can I Mail Cigars/Cigarettes?

In some families, cigars and cigarettes aren’t an unusual addition to an adult’s stocking. If you want to include cigarettes in someone’s holiday gift box, you’re actually in luck. While the USPS does forbids the mailing of tobacco products, it accepts “small-quantity, individual gift shipments” as an exception. It will also accept shipments to Alaska or Hawaii, shipments to military bases, and shipping of returns to a product manufacturer.

UPS and FedEx are a little stricter in their allowances. So, if you’re planning on shipping a tobacco product, we recommend sticking with USPS. As for cigars, no worries there: all three major US carriers will ship cigars domestically.

Can I Ship Hand Sanitizer?

In any other year, hand sanitizer might not be a very exciting gift, but 2020’s pandemic has turned it into a much-needed necessity. Since most hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes contain alcohol, they are flammable. Therefore, they are treated as hazardous materials by the top three major mail carriers. It is possible to ship hand sanitizer, however; you’ll just have to do a little extra paperwork: the Dangerous Goods Agreement for UPS; the Shipper’s Declarations for Dangerous Goods for FedEx, and other, more specific instructions for the USPS. For all carriers, you’ll have to accept surface shipping as your only option.

Can I Mail Nail Polish & Perfume?

Regulations are similar for potentially-flammable cosmetics like nail polish and perfume. Both UPS and FedEx require that these items be mailed via ground only, provided they meet the specifications listed above. As for USPS, it will permit perfume or nail polish to be transported by air, as long as its flashpoint is between 140° F 200° F. Cosmetics with a flashpoint between 100° F and 140° F can be shipped via surface transportation only.

Can I Ship Live Animals?

We’re mostly including this one for fun’s sake (although, if you’re legitimately thinking of mailing a friend a carton of live worms this Christmas, don’t let us stop you). Yes, USPS will ship live earthworms, as long as certain conditions are met. It will also deliver certain types of birds; certain types of bees; what it describes as “harmless, cold-blooded animals”; and, for some reason, scorpions. We’re not sure exactly why the Postal Service decided that scorpions would be the only stinging non-bee animal it would handle. Though we could Google the answer as well as the next person, we don’t want to ruin the mystery. Anyway, since the regulations for shipping animals are so numerous, we’re not going to list them all here. Interested persons can view them here (for USPS), here (for UPS), or here (for FedEx).

Get Everything You Need This Christmas from SSI Packaging

Need packaging supplies in Richmond, VA, or in nearby areas? Stop by SSI Packaging for all your holiday packaging needs. We offer everything you need to keep your gifts safe and secure during transit. That includes cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, foam sheets, edge protectors, mailing tubes, and more. To learn more about our wide range of products, click here. Also, be sure to visit our blog for packaging-related tips and tricks, like how to safely package glassware!

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