How to Ship Water and Other Liquids with the USPS

March 13th, 2018 Comments off

Maintaining a steady flow of shipments and mailings is a key component for any business.  If your business is water, or if you’re mailing a shipment of water as a one-time transaction, then it’s important to remain compliant with USPS guidelines.

The important thing to remember is that you are allowed to mail non-flammable, non-corrosive, non-explosive, non-odoriferous and non-hazardous liquids with the USPS. This includes shipments of water and other types of qualifying liquids. In addition, non-hazardous creams and pastes are considered by the USPS to be liquids and can also be mailed.

Packaging water

There are specific packaging guidelines to keep in mind. Protect your packages against breakage and leakage. Whether you’re sending mountain spring water, or water enhanced by magnesium and electrolytes, make sure that you seal the liquid inside a waterproof container.

Some people prefer to drink water from a glass bottle instead of a plastic one due to health, taste-related or environmental concerns. If you’re sending a glass bottle via the USPS, we recommend placing it within an inner container that is sealed and waterproof. Then, place your inner container within outer packaging with plenty of cushioning material.

What about liquids like paints? Yes, these can be mailed, but there is an important caveat: do not mail paint cans with friction-top closures without placing them first within strong outer packaging.

For all mailpieces containing liquids, make sure you also clearly indicate as such on the outside of the package. You can write “LIQUID” or “LIQUIDS” with a marker.

Learn more about USPS guidelines for shipping liquids.

Using Stamps.com to ship water 

If you need to quench your customers’ desire for tracking information, we recommend using the Stamps.com Shipping Label feature. Barcoded shipping labels printed via Stamps.com have built-in, free tracking. Under the “Packages” section of the Stamps.com software, you can select one of our “Shipping Label” options. You can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels, such as the 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels.

Don’t dampen your customers’ expectations. You can also use our Shipment Notification feature to email tracking information to your recipients. You can also order free USPS packaging by logging into your software and clicking on “Online Store,” which appears beneath “Buy Supplies.”

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Shipping Bees with USPS and Stamps.com

February 16th, 2018 Comments off

If you’re running an apiary or beekeeping business, you’re probably selling products such as honey, beeswax, or bee pollen. Bee operations also make revenue by selling actual live bees. But can you mail bees through the USPS? Yes, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind.

Types of bees

First, some basic science. A hive consists of three types of bees:

  • the female queen bee
  • female worker/attendant bees
  • male drones

Only queen honeybees and female worker/attendant honeybees can be mailed via the USPS. Whole colonies cannot be shipped. If you’re sending a starter hive of live bees, keep in mind that the type of bee you’re sending will determine the mail class you can use. When mailing bees with Stamps.com, you should always print a shipping label with embedded barcode tracking.  In the Stamps.com software, under the “Packages” section, you can select one of our “Shipping Label” options. You can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels, such as these 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels. As a Stamps.com customer, you’ll receive the discounted PC Postage (Commercial Base) rate, so you’ll save money when you print postage with us!

Queen Honeybees and Worker Bees

Queen honeybees can travel in style and be shipped by the faster air mail methods. Female worker/attendant honeybees can only be shipped via surface-based mail methods. Generally, Priority MailPriority Mail Express and First-Class Mail pieces will generally be shipped by air. The queen doesn’t have to fly alone, though, and in accordance with USPS regulations, she can be joined by up to eight female attendant/worker honeybees.

When going by surface mail methods, your shipment will need special care, and if you’re shipping queen honeybees or female worker/attendant honeybees via ground transportation, you would need to add the Special Handling fee. The good news is that you can do this easily in Stamps.com! In the software, click on “Add’l Options” and hit “Select…”  Click on “Special Contents” and select the Content Type of “Live Animal (with Fee).”

Packaging

When shipping bees, it’s obviously important to spend some time ensuring your package is safe for both the bees and for the postal workers. The mailpiece should be constructed in such a way as to provide adequate air and ventilation—a  temperature range of 40° to 100° F is recommended—and secure enough to prevent any bees from escaping. A third consideration is strength, as you need to avoid having your box getting crushed during transit. There are a number of solutions, including using screened wooden rectangular boxes or reinforced bee shipping boxes. For mailpieces sent by surface transportation, you must mark your box on the address side with the following descriptors: “Live Bees” and “Surface Only/Surface Mail Only.”  Plainly mark “Live Queen Bees” on the address side for mailpieces sent with queen honeybees.

International Mailing

Before mailing bees abroad, we strongly recommend checking individual country listings for restrictions.  Bees may be prohibited entirely, or stringent importation rules may apply. For example, when mailing bees to Argentina, you would need to have the Argentine Consul countersign a health certificate. If you’re sending live bees to Sweden, they must be sent directly to the Department of Bee Research of the University of Agricultural Sciences at its campus in Uppsala, Sweden. Learn more about international shipping restrictions by country.

For more information on USPS regulations regarding mailing bees, please see:

https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_008.htm

For the United States Department of Agriculture’s regulations, please see:

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information/permits/regulated-organism-and-soil-permits/sa_bees/ct_bee_transit

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Is it OK to Mail Prescription Medicines Through USPS?

September 22nd, 2017 Comments off

Wondering if it’s legal to use USPS to ship drugs? It’s definitely important to remain compliant with federal and state laws regarding the shipment of medicines, drugs, and controlled substances via the USPS.  Here’s a rundown of what’s allowed—and what’s prohibited.

Prescription medicines

According to USPS rules, if you want to ship prescription medicines, you must be a drug manufacturer, a registered agent of a drug manufacturer, pharmacy, medical practitioner, or other authorized dispenser.

Over-the-counter drugs

What about non-prescription medicines like pain and fever reducers (i.e. Tylenol, Advil), cold and cough medicines, decongestants, and antihistamine pills?

You can mail over-the-counter drugs, which are medicines purchased or obtained without a prescription. However, you would still need to be compliant with local and federal laws like the Poison Prevention Packaging Act and the Consumer Product Safety Act.

Controlled substances

Controlled substances, such as narcotics, anabolic steroids, and hallucinogenic drugs, cannot be mailed internationally and in cases of domestic mail, you would have to be an authorized dispenser, such as a medical practitioner or pharmacist. The USPS takes the shipment of narcotics very seriously, and the Postal Inspection Service Prohibited Mail Narcotics program investigates shipments of illegal drugs through the mail and works closely with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat this illicit trade.

Marijuana/cannabis

While marijuana/cannabis has been decriminalized in some states for recreational or medical use, mailing marijuana via the USPS is still illegal. Considered a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it is important to remember that marijuana is unmailable.

Drug paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia, such as pipes of various materials, are considered restricted matter and cannot be mailed domestically or internationally.

 

For further information on USPS regulations regarding drugs and medicines, please see: http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_019.htm

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Can you mail eggs with USPS?

September 15th, 2017 Comments off

Which came first—the chicken or the egg?  The egg, if you ship it through the U.S. Postal Service! Since eggs are mailable with the USPS under certain guidelines, you can use Stamps.com to make the process easy for you.

Eggs are very sensitive to temperature changes, so monitoring weather for upcoming snowstorms or heat waves that may affect the shipping destination is a good idea. Send them by a fast mail class such as Priority Mail Express.

How should I package my eggs?

When you’re shipping eggs, the USPS also asks that you individually cushion each egg. Use bubble wrap to avoid breakage and shock-proof packaging material such as shredded paper to cushion the individually bubble-wrapped eggs.  Pack your individual eggs closely but not too tightly.

A number of egg varieties exist, from a Rhode Island Red’s brown eggs to a Leghorn chicken’s white ones, but using a USPS Flat Rate Box, such as the Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box, will keep your postal rates consistent for all types of eggs. What’s more, barcoded shipping labels printed via Stamps.com have built-in, free tracking. You can also use our Shipment Notification feature to email tracking information to your recipients and give them an accurate idea of when to expect their package.

Don’t crack under the pressure: you can order free USPS packaging by logging into your software and clicking on “Online Store,” which appears beneath “Buy Supplies.”  Click on the “Free USPS Supplies” tab and order the right box or envelope for your mailing needs today!

For peace of mind, we recommend requesting a free USPS pickup when shipping eggs.  The free USPS pickup service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. In the Stamps.com software, click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar of the software to start the process.

For further USPS details on mailing eggs domestically, please see:   http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_010.htm

Can I send eggs internationally?

If you want to ship eggs to a destination outside of the U.S., you must use Priority Mail International. We recommend researching specific import restrictions by accessing the Individual Country Listings here: https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immctry.htm

For specific packing instructions on mailing eggs internationally, please see: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c6_015.htm

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All About USPS Postal Zones

September 8th, 2017 Comments off

Imagine that the originating point of your mail is your home or office. Your mailpieces, bearing postage printed with the powerful Stamps.com program, will travel to a wide variety of destination points on the map. If you draw a perfect circle on a piece of paper with a compass, your originating point will be where the compass needle hits the paper, and the arc would represent the destination zones.

The USPS uses a distance-based system of postal zones. This means that the area that is considered Zone 1, for example, would change depending on where you are. The farther a zone is, the higher the zone number.  Distance also affects the price of postage and the farther a zone is, the higher the postage cost if you are sending non-Flat Rate mailpieces. The farther the zone, the longer the mail will take to get there.  Simple, right?

Make this radial, distance-based system work for you. The Postal Service’s Domestic Zone Chart has two useful tools. First, you can get a Zone Chart by entering the first 3-digits of your ZIP Code—for example, “967” for ZIP Code 96795.

You can also plug in a mailpiece’s origin ZIP and destination ZIP to determine the appropriate zone. Say you’re sending a case of bottled water from Manchester, New Hampshire (ZIP Code 03101) to Honolulu, Hawaii (ZIP Code 96795). For this pair, Zone 8 pricing and travel times would apply. If you’re sending the package from Manchester, but this time it’s headed to Concord, New Hampshire (ZIP Code 03301), it would be Zone 1.

If you’re an e-commerce seller, this will help determine what you want to charge for shipping and whether switching to Flat Rate Boxes, in which the price remains the same regardless of distance, is a better fit.  If you have a secondary office or a partner working from another location, you may want to coordinate your efforts to ensure that certain items are sent over shorter distances.

Using the Stamps.com software 

The Stamps.com platform will take the guesswork out of zones. You’ll never have to enter the zone number. However, it is helpful to keep zones in mind as you look for the most economical way to ship your packages. When using zone-based mailing and shipping services, you’ll notice that you may have to enter dimensions for some mailpieces. The higher the zone number (and longer the travel distance), the more likely you’ll have to enter package dimensions.

To ensure you’re paying the correct rate of postage, always enter the dimensions when the software asks that you input them. For non-Flat Rate envelopes and boxes, you may be subject to a USPS Dimensional Weight Surcharge for Zones 5-8. The Stamps.com software will take stress out of the equation and calculate this automatically for you.

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