Shipping hand sanitizer -Notice of Reinstatement and Extension of Enforcement Policy regarding hand sanitizers

Below is an update to our original article regarding relief for shipping hand sanitizers.
Source: US DOT/PHMSA, December 07, 2020

This temporary relief has now been partially extended to include the following:

The extension states, “PHMSA gives notice that it will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who offers or transports hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged prior to October 31, 2020, and in accordance with the April 10, 2020, Notice of Enforcement Discretion and June 24, 2020, Extension of that Notice. This document is a temporary notice of enforcement discretion.  Regulated entities may rely on this notice as a safeguard from departmental enforcement as described herein.  This notice is effective until March 31, 2021.

It further notes, “While manufacturers of hand sanitizers are now required to comply with all applicable hazardous materials regulations, some hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged under the previous Notice of Enforcement Discretion have not yet been delivered to end users. To facilitate a continued response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, PHMSA is reinstating and extending the Notice of Enforcement Discretion to offerors and carriers who offer or transport hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged prior to October 31, 2020, and in accordance with the previous Notices of Enforcement Discretion. This action is intended to maximize the effectiveness of the distribution of critical healthcare resources nationwide to respond to the public health emergency.”

This extension is not at all clear on the requirements for training where it states, “Regulated entities may rely on this notice as a safeguard from departmental enforcement as described herein,” with no direct mention of the training subject.  In their original release, it said, “PHMSA will not take enforcement action for violations of the HMR for shipments of packagings containing more than 8 gallons but not more than 119 gallons of sanitizer, if the following procedures are followed, including: Offerors and transporters of this material provide their employees handling this material with the applicable training materials prepared by PHMSA, in lieu of the training required by 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart H.”  Furthermore, a PowerPoint was provided in the original notice which noted, “Familiarity with these guidelines and accompanying guidance document [was suitable] as a substitute for training requirements.”

With this extension lasting only until March 31, 2021, less than two months from today, we would encourage shippers to be fully trained in the appropriate modal course and follow the standard shipping requirements for these materials to avoid any potential violations.


This temporary relief has now expired as of October 31, 2020 and includes not only highway but rail transport as well. See the official notice.

Shipping hand sanitizer never got much attention until now.  As everybody on the planet knows alcohol solutions of 60% or greater are able to kill the coronavirus that causes COVID 19.

Because these products are flammable in that percentage they are regulated as hazardous materials by all modes of transport.

There has been some relief offered until the end of October 31, 2020 by the US DOT for ground shipments and you can see the temporary relief order here.

Under these temporary stop-gap DOT measures, hand sanitizers must be packed based upon one of three methods: (1) SMALL packagings – less than 1-gallon per inner receptacle and less than 8-gallons total per package; (2) NON-BULK packagings of not more than 119-gallons (such as 55 gallon drums – which must be UN approved); or (3) BULK packagings of more than 119-gallons (such as a 250-gallon tote or portable tank).

For more information on shipping hand sanitizers under the DOT temporary exceptions, please see the flow chart below along with the DOT published guidelines .

Beyond the DOT special exception period, you will need to be trained and certified to ship these products by all modes (air, highway, rail and ocean), and this includes people handling the products as well as those classifying them or filling out paperwork.

If you are hazmat trained and certified, you can continue to ship hand sanitizers via ground (highway or rail) under the limited quantity exception if the shipment meets several basic requirements: (1) use of combination packaging; (2) inner packagings of not more than 1 L each; and (3) the gross weight of the package is 30 kg or less (66 pounds).  No paperwork is required for ground shipping a limited quantity shipment, and the package need only be marked with the limited quantity mark, package orientation arrows on two sides and the name & address of the shipper or consignee.

You must ship the hand sanitizers as fully regulated dangerous goods (not limited quantity), including the use of UN specification packaging and a complete shipping paper, if the package is: (1) not a combination packaging (i.e., it is a single or composite packaging); (2) the inner packagings exceed 1 L; (3) the package exceeds 30 kg gross weight.

Below are two diagrams that show the differences in the consignment procedures.  The first diagram is for limited quantity and the second for fully regulated, Class 3 (flammable liquids).

Limited Quantity Ground Shipping Diagram

Fully Regulated (not LQ) Ground Shipping Diagram