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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #13-0002 ([UPS] [Mr. Samuel S. Elkind])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: UPS

Individual Name: Mr. Samuel S. Elkind

Location State: GA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 3, 2013


Mr. Samuel S. Elkind
United Parcel Service
Corporate Regulated Goods Manager
55 Glenlake Parkway, NE
Atlanta, GA   30328-3474

Ref. No. 13-0002

Dear Mr. Elkind:

This responds to your letter requesting clarification of the overpack requirements under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  Specifically, you ask for clarification on shipping paper requirements applicable to overpacks that contain both a fully regulated hazardous material package and a separate limited quantity package.   

In your incoming letter, you describe the following scenario: An overpack contains both a fully regulated hazardous material package and a separate package meeting the limited quantity requirements.  The overpack is opaque, so that the actual packages are not visible; and the overpack is marked with the word “Overpack” and displays the required proper shipping name, identification number, and hazard label for the fully regulated package; it also displays a Limited Quantity mark corresponding to the limited quantity package contained therein. Based on the above scenario your questions are paraphrased below.

Q1. When a shipper overpacks a fully regulated hazardous materials package with a limited quantity package, must the limited quantity package be listed on the shipping paper?

A1.  Under the HM-215K (76 FR 3308) final rule published on January 19, 2011,  
§ 172.200(b) was revised to except limited quantity shipments of hazardous material by rail and highway from the shipping paper requirements. Therefore, no shipping paper is required for limited quantity shipments by rail or highway.  Limited quantity shipments by air and vessel must still be accompanied by a shipping paper.  

Q2.  How would a carrier distinguish between the following overpack conditions, two of which represent shipper errors?

a. An overpack containing fully regulated hazardous material packages together with packages containing limited quantity packages, as described above;

b. An overpack containing limited quantity packages requiring a shipping paper that, through shipper error, does not include the required phrase “Limited Quantity”; and

c. An overpack not containing limited quantity packages that through shipper error has been mis-marked with the limited quantity marking.

A2.     Section 173.22 requires the shipper to properly describe the hazardous materials to be transported.  Although the HMR place primary responsibility on the shipper, or “person who offers,” to properly class and communicate the hazard of a hazardous material, a carrier may be held responsible for non-compliance with applicable requirements to the extent that the carrier knows, or should have known, that a material offered for transportation is hazardous.  A carrier may rely on information provided by the shipper, unless the carrier knows, or a reasonable person, acting in the circumstances and exercising reasonable care, would have knowledge that the information provided is incorrect.  

Q3.  What is the carrier’s responsibility under the regulations in connection with the limited quantity marking on the package? May the carrier simply assume the accuracy of the shipping paper and view the limited quantity marking as additional information unrelated to the fully regulated shipment within the overpack?

A3.   See A2 above.

Q4.  If the limited quantity package is not required to be listed on the shipping paper and the carrier is not permitted to assume the accuracy of the shipping paper in such instances, how is the carrier to interpret the package markings in light of the shipping paper information? (See, for example, conditions 2(a) through 2(c) above.)

A4.  See A2 above.

I hope this answers your inquiry.  If you need additional assistance, please contact this office at (202) 366-8553.


Robert Benedict
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

172.200, 173.22

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.200 Applicability
173.22 Shipper's responsibility