Publication 52 — Important Updates to USPS Dangerous Goods Regulations

Commonly known as "Pub 52", this document describes both the type and quantity of hazardous materials that may be sent through the U.S. mail. It spells out the labeling, packaging, marking, and handling instructions for allowable dangerous goods for postal employees and the general public. Per the publication... the Publication 52 purpose is to provide important information to help mailers determine what may be mailed and how certainitems must be packaged to keep the mail safe. It also provides guidance to Postal Service™ employees accepting this mail.

Publication 52 is available on Postal Explorer® at

As of mid-2015, two of the most common allowable dangerous goods shipped through the mail are lithium ion batteries and lithium metal batteries.


On February 22, 2017, the Postal Service announced it is preparing to revise Publication 52 in various sections to provide new mailing standards for lithium batteries. Prior to making these revisions, the Postal Service believes that it is appropriate to invite comments regarding the nature and scope of the contemplated changes. The Postal Service must receive written comments on or before March 24, 2017.

FR Document: 2017-03397    Citation: 82 FR 11372 PDF    Pages 1372-11375 (4 pages) Permalink

Revisions proposed include:

  • Eliminate the current text marking option for mail pieces bearing the lithium battery markings and limit markings to the DOT-approved lithium battery handling marks only
  • UN3090 will still be required to bear the current text marking in addition to the DOT-approved lithium battery handling mark
  • Eliminate the requirement for an accompanying document
  • Add the Class 9 lithium battery hazard label though any mail pieces bearing this mark will be prohibited in the mail
  • Rigid outer packaging requirements of adequate size; they will allow the use of padded or poly bags for button cells installed in equipment
  • Prohibit UN3480 in USPS air transportation
  • Revise quantity limitations for UN3480 in surface transport to an aggregate mail piece limit of 5 pounds of lithium ion cells ≤ 20 Wh/cell and batteries ≤ 100 Wh/battery)

Lithium batteries have been getting a great deal of attention recently from regulators and carriers alike. Both lithium ion (rechargeable) and lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are becoming more and more common in an ever-expanding array of electronic devices.

Effective March 2016, the USPS revised Pub 52 to reflect recent changes in US 49 CFR governing Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail. You can read about the updates here.

How to Use Pub 52

Please review the regulations, become familiar with them and follow these steps:

  1. Consult the Hazardous Materials Table (Appendix A) to determine the shipping status of your material.
  2. If the DGL forbids shipment via USPS, you must find an alternate method.
  3. If the DGL permits shipment, prepare it according to the relevant packing instructions in Appendix C.
  4. Consult Chapter 2 for relevant marking and handling requirements.

USPS Products from Labelmaster

Labelmaster offers a complete line of labels, packaging, and markings that meet USPS shipping requirements for lithium batteries.

USPS Labels
USPS Packaging
USPS Markings

Have questions? Labelmaster has answers!

Labelmaster is always ready to help you navigate the often complex maze of regulations that govern the shipment of these materials. They can also assist with choosing the most appropriate products to meet your specific needs.

Simply fill out the form below and include any questions about Publication 52 or Dangerous Goods shipping. A Labelmaster professional will contact you soon!