An advantage that companies such as UPS have over government-run organizations such as USPS is that they don’t have to be as strict about what they can and can’t ship.
That being said, however, there are still restrictions on what you can ship- so what are those restrictions, and are there any extenuating circumstances you can take advantage of? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!
What Are the UPS Shipping Restrictions In 2023?
UPS regulates, restricts, and/or prohibits shipments of items that have an “inherent vice, which by their nature are likely to soil, impair or damage persons, merchandise, or equipment” and goods that require special safety precautions, permits, or facilities in order to be safely transported. These goods fall into the “restricted items” or “prohibited items” categories as of 2023.
If you’re looking to save yourself time, money, and heartache by making sure your item isn’t restricted or prohibited by UPS ahead of time, be sure to take a look at the rest of this article for more useful information!
What Does “Shipping Restriction” Mean?
The term “shipping restriction” is used by businesses such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx to describe items that are either heavily regulated or forbidden from being shipped.
While the specific items that are regulated, restricted or prohibited vary slightly per company, there are some items that are consistently restricted or prohibited across the board.
These items include bio-hazardous items, ammunition, firearms, weapons, explosives, alcohol, and any item which inherently impairs or harms people or other shipments.
For UPS specifically, shipping restrictions are defined as “shipments with inherent vice, which by their nature are likely to soil, impair or damage persons, merchandise, or equipment; goods which attract excise duty or which require special facilities, safety precautions or permits.”
What is the Difference Between Restricted and Prohibited Items at UPS?
While shipping restriction is the general term used to describe shipments that are subject to higher regulation or denial, there are two categories of shipping restrictions: restricted items and prohibited items.
According to the UPS page covering restricted and prohibited items (which can be found here), restricted items can still be shipped while prohibited items can’t.
Restricted items are a type of shipment that is only accepted by UPS on a contractual basis for shippers with regular volume.
As well, these persons/ facilities must have the ability to comply with all local laws/regulations and are carried only under certain criteria.
An example of a restricted item would be liquor- while a normal person couldn’t ship a bottle of liquor with UPS, UPS does allow for distilleries to use its services under contract to ship liquor to bars and distributors around the country.
Prohibited items, however, cannot be shipped by UPS, no matter who wants to ship them or under what circumstances.
Prohibited items include any items that are prohibited from being shipped by law, including hazardous waste and human/fetal remains, body parts, or embryos.
UPS also carries a prohibited item fee, which is applied if UPS finds out that your shipment contains a prohibited item.
This fee is, at minimum, $150 and does not mean that your package will be delivered or that you are released from any liability surrounding the contents of your package, nor is it a means of UPS waiving its rights or accepting any liability.
What Items Are Restricted By UPS?
Restricted items under UPS’ regulations can only be shipped under certain circumstances, whether under contract with a business, with certain shipping labels, or in certain quantities.
The restricted items on the UPS website are as follows:
- Alcoholic beverages (See guides for shipping beer, shipping wine, and shipping spirits under the restricted items section of this page)
- Animal products, non-domesticated (e.g., mother of pearl inlay, snakeskin watch bands)
- Articles of high/unusual value, which is defined as any item(s) surpassing $50,000 in value as described in the UPS Terms & Conditions on page 6
- Ammunition (except as expressly described and outlined on this page of the UPS website)
- Biological substances, Category B and exempt human or animal specimens
- Dangerous goods (UPS Guide for Transporting Hazardous Materials)
- Firearms and weapons (including inert and replica explosive weapons) can only be shipped following these regulations
- Gold or other precious metals
- Hemp and CBD
- Live animals
- Plants and seeds- requires a UPS account to ship
If the package you plan on shipping with UPS contains any of the above-listed items, be sure to check out the corresponding links to make sure you’re qualified to ship them or check out the UPS page on restricted and prohibited goods here.
What Items Are Prohibited By UPS?
Prohibited items, as defined by UPS, cannot be shipped using UPS services under any circumstances.
This means that even if a business were seeking a contractual agreement with UPS to ship these goods, UPS would refuse.
This refusal is typically based on the grounds that the item in question is fundamentally dangerous, illegal, or used to inebriate or harm others.
The list of prohibited items on UPS’ site is as follows:
- Shipments prohibited by law
- Bank bills, notes, or currency (Other than coins)
- Common fireworks
- Hazardous waste or hazardous waste service
- Human remains, fetal remains, human body parts, human embryos, or components thereof
- Marijuana, including marijuana intended for medicinal use
- Postage stamps
- Shark fins
- Vape products within, to, or from the U.S
UPS also indicates on its site that while this list is an accurate representation of restricted items, it’s not a completely comprehensive list of all items that UPS will refuse to ship.
If you’re interested in seeing the current comprehensive list of all items that UPS prohibits from being shipped, you can check out pages 5 and 6 of the terms and conditions handbook here.
To learn more, you can also see our posts on how fast is UPS ground, if you can use poly mailers for UPS, and if you can track a UPS package without a tracking number.
“Shipping restriction” is the term to describe items that are regulated, restricted, or prohibited by a given shipping agency. UPS has two types of shipping restrictions: restricted items and prohibited items.
Restricted items can only be shipped under certain circumstances, such as under contractual agreement or with proper labels and paperwork.
Prohibited items can not be shipped under any circumstances and that UPS will refuse to ship 100% of the time.