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USPS Revises Infectious Substances Shipping Rules

Posted on April 27, 2020 by Roger Marks

USPS has revised its Publication 52 regulations for mailing Category B Infectious Substances “to support the rapid deployment of coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic tests…”

These regulations are found in Publication 52, Appendix C, Packaging Instruction 6C for Category B Infectious Substances.

USPS added a new section to the Proper Shipping Name and ID Number section that reads in part:

All shippers of COVID-19 related UN3373 Category B infectious Substances must obtain an authorization from the Postal Service before mailing.

USPS also revised the following sections of the Publication 52, Appendix C, Packaging Instruction 6C for Category B Infectious Substances:
  • Packaging requirements for primary, secondary, and outer containers
  • Marking packages containing Category B infectious substances
  • Documentation and instructions that mailers must provide

USPS added a second bullet point to the Required Packaging section that imposes a drop testing requirement for completed packagings containing Category B Infectious Substances, reading:

The completed triple packaging must be capable of successfully passing the drop test in 49 CFR 178.609(d) at a drop height of at least 1.2 meters (3.9 feet). Following the drop test, there must be no leakage from the primary receptacle, which must remain protected by absorbent materials, when required, in the secondary packaging.

The revisions are intended to facilitate the distribution and collection of coronavirus test kits as the US works to ramp-up testing.

Read the full USPS announcement in the April 23, 2020 Postal Bulletin. 

Also in April 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released guidance related to COVID-19 and transporting infectious substances.   

Hazmat Postal Shipper Training 

Learn to navigate USPS’s unique Publication 52 requirements to ship hazardous materials by US mail within the US. Build on your 49 CFR expertise and learn the additional USPS restrictions and requirements that apply to hazardous materials like flammable liquids, toxic substances, medical samples, dry ice, and more. 

This 60 minute course answers questions like: 

  • What kind of hazardous materials are allowed in the mail? 
  • What types and amounts of hazmat will USPS carry and deliver?
  • How do I know if USPS will accept my package?
  • How do I package, mark, label, and document hazmat for USPS delivery?
  • What reliefs are in place for very small quantities of hazmat?​
Learn more about the Hazmat Postal Shipper course.