USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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

Interpretation Response #18-0057

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Oak Harbor Freight Lines, Inc.

Individual Name: Tom Mueller

Location State: NV Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

October 11, 2018

Tom Mueller
Manager, Safety and Compliance
Oak Harbor Freight Lines, Inc.
8960 Terabyte Drive
Reno, NV  89521

Reference No. 18-0057

Dear Mr. Mueller:

This letter is in response to your April 9, 2018, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to shipping paper accessibility.  You state that your company transports trailers containing multiple consignments of hazardous materials and provides the drivers with “packets” that include separate shipping papers for each consignment as part of a manifest documenting the contents of the trailer.  Specifically, you ask if tabbing the first shipping paper and highlighting the subsequent shipping papers—while leaving the subsequent shipping papers un-tabbed—would fulfill the requirement of § 177.817(e) when shipping papers are arranged together in the middle of a packet. You further ask if it is permissible to leave subsequent shipping papers un-tabbed when multiple shipping papers are arranged on top of the document packet.

The answer is yes.  Section 177.817(e)(1) requires that a hazardous materials shipping paper be clearly identifiable if carried with other shipping papers or other papers of any kind.  If all of the shipping papers that correspond to shipments of hazardous materials are arranged in the same section of the packet, as you described, no additional distinction beyond the first tab is required.  The requirements of § 177.817(e)(1) are intended to ensure that shipping papers are readily available and easily identifiable in the event of an inspection or emergency.  Therefore, while not required, it is permissible to provide additional tabs for each shipping paper or, as in your example, by highlighting subsequent shipping papers to help emergency responders or investigators locate necessary information more easily.  Please note, however, that the HMR provide only two options for distinguishing shipping papers when carried with other shipping

documents: (1) having the hazardous materials shipping papers appear first or (2) distinctively tabbing the documents.  Further indicating or distinguishing hazardous materials shipping papers by highlighting, color coding, edge marking the paper, or using a paper clip is permissible, but not required.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


Dirk Der Kinderen
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

177.817(e), 177.817(e)(1)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
177.817 Shipping papers