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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 #18-0076

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson, & Feary, P.C.

Individual Name: Brandon K. Wiseman

Location State: IN Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 29, 2018

Brandon K. Wiseman
Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson, & Feary, P.C.
10 West Market Street
Suite 1400
Indianapolis, IN  46204

Reference No. 18-0076

Dear Mr. Wiseman:

This letter is in response to your May 17, 2018, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to product returns from consumers. 

In your letter, you provide a scenario in which:

  • Company XYZ is an online shipping service that offers a platform for manufacturers and retailers to sell their products to end users.
  • Company XYZ does not physically handle the products.
  • Company XYZ will provide a return label to end users upon request.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask if Company XYZ would be considered an offeror in the scenario provided.
A1. Company XYZ would be considered an offeror if it performs a pre-transportation function, as defined in § 171.8, or if the label it provides to consumers is used to generate a hazardous materials shipping paper.
Q2. You ask if Company XYZ would have any obligations under the HMR in the scenario provided.
A2. If Company XYZ is not considered an offeror (see A1), then it would have no obligations under the HMR.

Q3. You ask if requirements for reverse logistics would apply in the scenario provided.
A3. The requirements for PHMSA's reverse logistics apply to the transport by motor vehicle of goods from a retail store for return to its manufacturer, supplier, or distribution center.  Shipments from a consumer to a manufacturer, supplier, or distribution center would not be considered reverse logistics.

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



T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations