[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 152 (Thursday, August 6, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 47720-47723]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-15773]



39 CFR Part 113

Electronic Indicators for the Mailing of Hazardous and Perishable 

AGENCY: Postal ServiceTM.

ACTION: Proposed revision for special standards; request for comment.


SUMMARY: The Postal Service proposes to amend the Publication 52, 
Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail (PUB 52) to provide unique 
electronic indicators and to standardize the Extra Services options for 
shipments of hazardous materials and perishable items.

DATES: Submit comments on or before September 8, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Mail or deliver written comments to the Manager, Product 
Classification, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 4446, 
Washington, DC 20260-5015. If sending comments by email, include the 
name and address of the commenter and send to 
[email protected], with a subject line of ``Electronic 
Indicators''. Faxed comments will not be accepted.
    All submitted comments and attachments are part of the public 
record and subject to disclosure. Do not enclose any material in your 
comments that you consider to be confidential or inappropriate for 
public disclosure.
    You may inspect and photocopy all written comments, by appointment 
only, at USPS[supreg] Headquarters Library, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, 11th 
Floor North, Washington, DC 20260. These records are available for 
review Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling 202-268-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Collins at (202) 251-2291, Kevin 
Gunther at (202) 268-7208 or Dale Kennedy (202) 268-6592.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Postal Service is proposing to amend PUB 
52 with the provisions below and, once adopted, will incorporate the 
revised PUB 52 by reference into part 113, as well as make necessary 
edits to the Domestic Mail Manual. You may view the text of the 
proposed edits to PUB 52 at: https://pe.usps.com/.
    1. Require Electronic Verification System (eVS) and ePostage 
mailers to transmit a Shipping Services File (SSF) to the Postal 
Service before, or concurrent with the tendering of hazardous materials 
    2. Specify three unique Service Type Codes (STC), each to 
correspond to hazardous materials outbound shipments via Priority 
Mail[supreg], First-Class Package Service[supreg], Parcel 
Select[supreg], Parcel Select Lightweight[supreg], and USPS Retail 
    3. Specify that insurance will be the only Extra Service available 
with shipments of hazardous materials. The Postal Service intends to 
provide a unique STC for each product without an Extra Service (which 
would include basic USPS tracking provided as a built-in feature of 
these products), purchases of insurance less than or equal to $500, and 
purchases of insurance over $500.
    4. Specify four unique STCs for Priority Mail Express[supreg] 
shipments to identify those shipments where the mailer is requesting a 
waived signature, requiring a signature, purchasing insurance less than 
or equal to $500, or purchasing insurance over $500.
    5. Specify three unique STCs to correspond with hazardous materials 
return services via Parcel Return Service (PRS) Full Network, 
traditional PRS, Priority Mail Return Service[supreg], First-Class 
Package Return Service[supreg], and Ground Return Service[supreg], 
where each

[[Page 47721]]

STC will correspond to the product and any of the Extra Service options 
described above for outbound shipments. The Postal Service also 
proposes to specify unique STCs to explicitly identify Division 6.2, 
Infectious Substances returned through Postal Service Networks using 
each of these return services.
    6. Provide unique Extra Service Codes (ESC) intended to identify 
categories of hazardous materials with specific relevance to 
segregation, handling and identification in Postal Service networks.
    7. Specify unique STCs and ESCs to identify and categorize 
shipments of live bees, and day-old poultry to include Extra Services 
or additional fees for these content types.
    8. Provide for the optional use of hazardous and perishable 
materials electronic indicators before the end of the 2020 calendar 
year and to require their use at a later date.


    Due to the rapid expansion of eCommerce, the United States Postal 
Service[supreg] has encountered a significant increase in the number of 
hazardous material shipments going through the mail. Materials such as 
lithium batteries, flammable gases, non-flammable compressed gases, and 
corrosive cleaning solutions that were typically purchased through 
brick and mortar establishments are now routinely being purchased 
online and shipped to their destination. Additionally, with the 
outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there is a new 
emphasis on the transportation of infectious substances. This increase 
in hazardous material volume has brought with it a proportional 
increase in instances of improper labelling and packaging, use of 
ineligible shipping services, and an increase in safety related 
incidents in Postal Service facilities. These incidents have placed our 
employees, customers, and business partners in higher risks and 
resulted in millions of dollars in losses.
    The Postal Service heavily relies on commercial cargo and passenger 
aircraft to transport mail in circumstances where the use of ground 
transportation is insufficient to meet its service standards or are 
otherwise operationally or financially impracticable. With regard to 
the transportation of hazardous materials, these commercial air 
carriers are subject to regulation by the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA), and the International Civil Aviation Organization 
    In accordance with FAA regulations, commercial air carriers are 
required to develop and maintain a Safety Management System (SMS). In 
applying the safety risk management concept of their SMS, air carriers 
conduct a systemic analysis to identify hazards and then develop and 
maintain processes to analyze the safety risks associated with the 
hazards identified. This process requires air carriers to acquire data 
with respect to its operations, products, and services to monitor the 
safety performance of their operations and conduct and update their 
risk assessments. The Postal Service tenders mail, including packages 
containing both non-hazardous and hazardous materials to its contracted 
air carriers in sacks. Due to the ``sacking'' of hazardous materials 
from the Postal Service, air carriers are often unaware of the specific 
hazardous materials they are accepting and transporting. Subsequently, 
without this information, air carriers are unable to accurately define 
and address the risks associated with the mail.


    To enhance its ability to make knowledgeable decisions regarding 
the handling and disposition of hazardous materials shipments in its 
networks and better leverage the use of its mechanized and automated 
systems to properly segregate and tender these items, the Postal 
Service proposes to require mailers to identify and categorize their 
hazardous materials shipments through the use of specified electronic 
    The Postal Service expects to use these indicators to provide 
details on the categories, volume and weight of the hazardous materials 
contained in packages tendered to its contracted transportation 
providers, and handle these packages in a safe and operationally 
efficient manner.
    The Postal Service has enhanced its operational capability to 
provide piece-level tracking and visibility through the use of 
Intelligent Mail Package Barcodes (IMpb[supreg]). These barcodes are 
able to be scanned by automated processing equipment and Intelligent 
Mail scanning devices. Today, mailers are required to encode certain 
information into the barcode structure of the IMpb through the use of 
STCs and to encode additional information into a USPS-Approved SSF 
through the use of ESCs. As part of its package strategy, mailers 
tendering packages to the Postal Service are currently required to 
accurately encode their IMpb barcodes for each package and to supply a 
complete SSF concurrent with entering their packages into Postal 
Service Networks.

Restriction of Extra Services

    The Postal Service proposes to restrict the Extra Service options 
available for shipments of regulated hazardous materials to include 
only insurance over and under $500 for most mail classes or products, 
and insurance over and under $500 in addition to waiver of signature 
for Priority Mail Express. The Postal Service is proposing this 
restriction in order to reduce the complexity for mailers complying 
with the new requirements, and to limit the number of STCs needed to 
identify hazardous materials in the Postal Service systems. The Postal 
Service has a fairly large number of ESCs available for use for the 
purposes of these new requirements, but is very limited in the 
availability of STCs. This limitation in the number of available STCs 
is a primary concern in the proposed restriction for Extra Services 
available for use with hazardous materials shipments. The Postal 
Service expects the demand for the variety of Extra Services covered 
under this proposed restriction to be low enough for shippers of 
hazardous materials to generally be of minor concern.

eVS and ePostage Users

    The generation of the flight-specific air carrier manifests and the 
other operational enhancements proposed in this Federal Register Notice 
will be possible only when the information is included in a mailer's 
SSF, and is made available to all Postal Service systems in a timely 
fashion. It is for this reason that the Postal Service is proposing to 
require all impacted mailers to transmit an approved SSF before, or 
concurrent with, the physical tendering of regulated hazardous 
materials shipments to the Postal Service regardless of the postage 
payment method used. In addition to the other postage payment methods, 
this requirement would extend to mailers using electronic verification 
system (eVS).

Postal Meter and Legacy Barcode Users

    To ensure electronic information for all hazardous materials 
shipments are available and concurrent with their induction into its 
networks, the Postal Service proposes to restrict shipments of 
hazardous materials from mailers using postage meters not capable of 
electronically transmitting transactional data to the Postal Service, 
and any other mailers who may still be using legacy package barcodes. 
These mailers are urged to transition to newer systems or to bring 
their hazardous materials to a Postal Service retail unit for 

[[Page 47722]]

Service Type Codes and Extra Service Codes for Hazardous Materials

    The Postal Service proposes to specify three unique STCs, each to 
correspond to hazardous materials outbound shipments via Priority Mail, 
First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select, Parcel Select Lightweight, 
and USPS Retail Ground, and to provide a unique STC for each product 
without an Extra Service, requests for insurance less than or equal to 
$500, and requests for insurance over $500. The Postal Service also 
proposes to specify three unique STCs to correspond to hazardous 
materials return services shipments via the Parcel Return Service (PRS) 
Full Network, traditional PRS, Priority Mail Return Service, First-
Class Package Return Service, and Ground Return Service, where each STC 
will correspond to the Extra Service options described above for 
outbound shipments, and to specify unique STCs to explicitly identify 
Division 6.2, Infectious Substances returned through Postal Service 
Networks using each of these return services. The Postal Service 
proposes unique STCs to identify Division 6.2 Infectious Substances 
because it believes this category of material is the most commonly 
shipped hazardous material in Postal Service Networks via a return 
service and the additional visibility into these shipments is 
beneficial to Postal Operations.
    The Postal Service proposes to provide unique ESCs to identify 
specified categories of hazardous materials with specific relevance to 
segregation, handling and identification in Postal Service networks. 
The Postal Service plans to specify approximately 20 ESCs, each to 
identify a category of hazardous material that is associated with 
specific quantity restrictions, packaging and markings requirements, 
and for some ESCs, restrictions in air transportation. Included among 
the proposed categories to be assigned with a specific ESC, and 
intended for air transportation are:

 ID8000 Consumer Commodity
 Air-eligible Ethanol
 Excepted Quantity
 Division 5.1 Oxidizer
 Division 5.2 Organic Peroxide
 Division 6.1 Packaging Instruction 6B Toxic Material
 Class 8 Corrosive
 Class 8 Nonspillable battery
 Class 9 Dry Ice
 Class 9 Magnetized Material
 Class 9 Lithium Battery (marked)
 Class 9 Lithium Battery (unmarked)

    The Postal Service has also specified proposed ESCs to correspond 
with categories of hazardous materials shipments intended for ground 
transportation, but will not specifically list them in this notice.
    The Postal Service expects to have these STCs and ESCs available 
for optional use by mailers before the end of the 2020 calendar year. 
The Postal Service will work with the mailing industry to determine 
when the majority of mailers will be able to prepare their systems for 
the new requirements, and will announce a mandatory use date later this 

STCs and ESCs for Perishable Materials Specifically Live Animals

    In addition to the electronic indicators specific to hazardous 
materials, the Postal Service is also proposing new STCs and ESCs 
applicable to shipments of live animals. These indicators are intended 
to identify and categorize mailable live animal shipments, and provide 
necessary package-level details for perishable materials shipments when 
they include special pricing assessments. These required indicators 
will be leveraged within the new Package Platform initiative, enabling 
Postal Service permit systems to identify the shipments, and to ensure 
proper and accurate automated postage assessments and payment. These 
perishable materials indicators will specify additional charges 
applicable to live animals, such as the live animal transportation fee 
charged by airlines when specific types of live animals are shipped via 
air transportation, or Special Handling-Fragile fees when required by 
standards or when optionally requested by the mailer. Once fully 
implemented, use of these STCs and ESCs will be required for all 
mailings of live animals under the categories specified.

International Shipments

    Most international packages do not include an IMpb, and will not 
have a STC associated with the package. However, during the postage 
payment process for most international packages, a SSF is generated and 
transmitted to the Postal Service. The Postal Service proposes to 
require mailers to include the hazardous materials ESCs applicable to 
the category of material being shipped. In accordance with Mailing 
Standards of the United States Postal Service, International Mail 
Manual (IMM[supreg]) part 135, only four categories of hazardous 
materials are permitted in international mail. Hazardous materials 
permitted in international mail are restricted to:

 Division 6.2, Infectious Substances (permitted only by 
authorization from Product Classification, USPS[supreg] Headquarters)
 Class 7, Radioactive Materials
 Class 9, Magnetic Materials
 Class 9,Lithium Batteries installed in equipment (unmarked)

    The Postal Service expects to provide access to the STCs applicable 
to these hazardous materials categories for use with international 

Systems Enhancements

    To provide greater visibility into the quantities, weights, and 
categories of hazardous materials being tendered to its contracted air 
carriers, the Postal Service plans to provide an electronic and 
hardcopy (if needed) manifest to the pilot of each flight carrying 
hazardous materials in the mail. The Postal Service expects to supply 
this manifest, similar to a commercial air waybill, prior to physically 
tendering the mail to the air carrier. The manifest will supply the 
details on the categories of hazardous materials offered for 
transportation on each flight. The information will be provided from 
the electronic indicators supplied by mailers under these proposed 
requirements, and will be detailed under each of the hazardous 
materials categories specified for air transportation as previously 
specified in the notice. The Postal Service believes these detailed 
manifests will result in greater confidence in the safety of the pilot, 
crew, and the public traveling on passenger aircraft that also carry 
mail. The manifests will also supply hazardous materials content 
information sufficient to enable air carriers to better analyze their 
safety risks associated with the mail in the development of their SMS.
    These electronic indicators will also provide the ability of Postal 
Operations to identify packages containing hazardous materials and the 
categories under which they fall. This additional information will 
allow the separation or consolidation of hazardous materials packages 
as necessary to meet operational requirements and allow Operations to 
affix the applicable markings when necessary to the container. If this 
proposal is adopted, Postal Operations will review its systems and 
processes and will investigate the feasibility of adopting enhancements 
using the hazardous materials data provided by these proposed 
    If this proposal is adopted, the revisions to postage payment 
platforms may enable the Postal Service to build in safeguards to 
notify its mailers when they attempt to combine a product that

[[Page 47723]]

is incompatible with the selected category of hazardous material. For 
example, the Postal Service may be able to warn (or lock out) a mailer 
during the postage payment process, when the mailer attempts to combine 
an air-eligible product (e.g., First-Class Package Service or Priority 
Mail) with a category of hazardous material restricted to ground 
transportation only (e.g. limited quantity ground material or flammable 
solid). If this proposal is adopted, the Postal Service plans to review 
its systems to determine if such an enhancement is possible and 


    If this proposal is adopted, the United States Postal Inspection 
Service[supreg] (USPIS[supreg]) expects universal compliance by mailers 
following a reasonable period of time to communicate the new 
requirements to mailers and postage payment providers, and for them to 
make the necessary changes to their systems. Following the 
implementation period, the USPIS intends to enforce these new 
requirements using its civil penalty authority under 39 U.S.C. 3018.

Brittany Johnson,
Attorney, Federal Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2020-15773 Filed 8-5-20; 8:45 am]