Guide to Shipping Liquids
Shipping liquids can be complicated. If your business sells products such as perfumes, beverages, alcohol, or other liquids, it is essential to understand the various federal and state laws and carrier regulations surrounding the shipment of liquid items. Some liquids can be shipped domestically but not internationally, while others can be sent by surface transport but not air transport. In short, there are numerous factors to consider when shipping liquids. This guide will help you determine how to safely and securely package and ship your liquid freight to wherever it needs to go.
What Liquid Do You Want to Ship?
There are a number of laws and regulations surrounding different liquids when it comes to shipping. For basic perishable items such as beverages, soups, juices, and soaps, shipping is permitted through most carriers with the proper packaging. For liquid items that are considered “hazardous” or “dangerous,” there are more stringent regulations.
When you think of hazardous items, you may think of explosives, toxic chemicals, and poisons, but the shipping category encompasses many more seemingly everyday items. To qualify as a hazardous shipping material, an item simply needs to be potentially dangerous to those who ship or store the item should it drop, break, spill, or come into contact with another substance. This can include items such as paint and paint thinner, nail polish, hair spray, perfume, and fish oil. To determine if the liquid item you want to ship is categorized as hazardous and can only be shipped by certain carriers with required additional labeling and special packaging, consult the FMCSA for a complete list of hazardous materials and their regulations. To determine a liquid item’s standard freight classification for LTL shipping (based on the item’s size, weight, stowability, and transportability), consult Koho’s list of freight classes.
Packaging for Safety
Once you have determined the appropriate category of your liquid item and followed the necessary regulations surrounding it, the next step is to package the liquid safely. Before selecting the proper packaging, it is important to consider a few aspects of the liquid you are shipping.
- Is the liquid a food or beverage item?
- Is the liquid in a breakable container?
- Is the liquid perishable or temperature-sensitive?
The answers to these questions will help you select the correct packaging for your shipment.
Generally, packaging a liquid shipment will involve four simple steps:
1. Seal the liquid item. Your liquid item should have a double seal or a second taped wrapping around the lid to ensure there are no leaks.
2. Place the sealed liquid item in a waterproof bag. Another way to ensure your liquid item remains sealed is to pack it in a separate waterproof bag with a seal. For increased security, double bag the item in two waterproof bags and seal shut with tape.
3. Pack the liquid item securely in a box. Select a strong cardboard box with enough room for your item and additional packing materials. Line the box with soft packing materials such as packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam. Place your liquid item in the box with some room on all sides. Fill the remaining space with packing material to ensure no large air pockets remain and the item is packed snugly in the box.
4. Seal the box and label accurately. Close the package securely and tape all seams to ensure that the box will not open in transit. Label packaging clearly on all sides with the appropriate warnings and indicate that the package contains liquid so the carrier and recipient can handle it accordingly.
Check Your Carrier’s Policies
Some carriers will ship some liquids but not others. Depending on the type of liquid, carriers may impose additional charges or require supplemental labeling or instructions for how to ship. Whether you are shipping domestically or internationally can also affect what is allowed to be shipped and how to ship it. When shipping alcohol, regulations differ between carriers and between states and countries for shipping and delivery. Because there are so many restrictions and each carrier and location may vary, it is important to contact your carrier to find out precisely how to ship your liquid items through their service to ensure your shipment reaches its destination safely and securely.