Things you can't ship via air mail

Things you can't ship via air mail »Play Video
Image by Flickr user allerleirau.
If you're mailing boxes for the holidays, make sure you're not sending anything the government considers a potential hazard.

Some things that seem like the perfect gift could be on the restricted list. Whether you ship flat-rate, priority, or any other method that requires an airplane, certain items are restricted. But a lot of people don't know that.

I didn't know it, when I recently put flat-rate shipping to the test.

But plenty of postal workers were watching, especially when I grabbed a boxed bottle of perfume. I was concerned about padding the box to keep the bottle inside from breaking. But federal aviation regulators are concerned about the perfume itself.

Turns out perfume is on the list of things you're not supposed to ship if it's going on an airplane.

If you want to send perfume, you're supposed to send it by ground because it contains alcohol. Alcohol is considered a hazardous material due to the flammability.

You can't send nail polish either unless the package goes on a truck. Ditto for aerosols, flea collars and flea sprays and dry ice.

The chemicals could become dangerous in the vibration, pressure and temperature changes on a plane. Wine, beer, and hard liquor are prohibited, too. They're not considered hazardous; they're restricted for tax and control purposes, unless you have special authorization and use special labeling.

You're probably asking: how would they know?

The honest answer is they may not, unless something hazardous is found during random X-ray, or if the package leaks or breaks open, and I'm told that happens a lot. (Marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs by the way, can be picked up by drug sniffing dogs.)

You may get a call or a notice in the mail, the hazardous product may be discarded. And in some cases, depending on the circumstances, you could face fines and penalties.

If you read the various guidelines, you'll see they can be confusing and full of government jargon, and not exactly written for the average consumer to easily understand.

So, whether you use the U.S. Postal Service, UPS or some other shipping company - it's best to double check.

For more information:

Aviation Mail Security & Hazardous Materials

Do You Know If You're Shipping Hazardous Materials?