Infectious and noninfectious (nonregulated) biological substances are acceptable in international mail subject to the provisions of DMM 601.10.17 under the following conditions: when they are intended for medical or veterinary use, research, or laboratory certification related to the public health; only when such materials are properly prepared for mailing to withstand shocks, pressure changes, and other conditions related to ordinary handling in transit; and under the additional conditions specified in subsections below.
- Category A infectious substances are not mailable. Category A infectious substances as identified in DMM 601.10.17.2a1 are substances transported in a form capable of causing permanent disability or life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals when exposure occurs. A Category A infectious substance is assigned the identification number UN 2814 or UN 2900, based on the known medical history or symptoms of the source patient or animal, endemic local conditions, or professional judgment concerning the individual circumstances of the source human or animal. A list of indicative examples of infectious substances included in Category A can be found in International Air Transportation Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations, Table 3.3.D.
- Category B infectious substances are mailable when they meet the definition in DMM 601.10.17.2a2. A Category B infectious substance does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A. A mailpiece known or suspected to contain a Category B infectious substance must bear the proper shipping name “Biological substance, Category B” on the address side of the mailpiece and must be assigned to and marked with identification number UN 3373.
- Nonregulated (noninfectious) materials identified in DMM 601.10.17.3 as nonregulated are mailable. Nonregulated substances do not contain infectious substances or substances that are likely to cause disease in humans or animals. Nonregulated materials are not subject to regulation as materials but must be properly packaged as indicated in DMM 601.10.17.8 when presented for mailing.
- Exempt human or animal specimens as defined in DMM 601.10.17.2d are mailable. They are not subject to regulation as materials, but when presented for mailing, they must be packaged as identified in DMM 601.10.17.9.
Category B infectious substances must be sent only by First-Class Mail International service or Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes or Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes using Registered Mail™ service. Nonregulated materials defined in DMM 601.10.17.3 and exempt human or animal specimens defined in DMM 601.10.17.2d are mailable by First-Class Mail International service when properly packaged as described in DMM 601.10.17.
Substances identified in 135.11b must be sent only by authorized laboratories to their foreign counterparts in those countries that have indicated a willingness to accept them.
Note: Countries distinguish between infectious and noninfectious (nonregulated) biological substances and may prohibit one or the other or both. See “Prohibitions” in the Individual Country Listings.
Infectious biological substances can be sent to or received by only the following types of institutions:
- Laboratories of local, state, and federal government agencies.
- Laboratories of federally licensed manufacturers of biological products derived from bacteria and viruses.
- Laboratories affiliated with or operated by hospitals, universities, research facilities, and other teaching institutions.
- Private laboratories licensed, certified, recognized, or approved by a public authority.
A qualifying institution wishing to mail packages containing biological substances must submit a written request on its organizational letterhead to the following address:
MANAGER Product classification
US POSTAL SERVICE
475 L’ENFANT PLZ SW RM 4446
WASHINGTON DC 20260–5015
In its letter of application, the institution must indicate the nature of its work, the identity and qualifications of the prospective recipient, and the number of packages to be mailed.
A material that is classified as a Category B infectious substance and that meets the definition in DMM 601.10.17.2a2 must be triple-packaged as described in DMM 601.10.17.4, must meet the packaging requirements in 49 CFR 173.199, and must be sent only by First-Class Mail International service or Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes or Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes using Registered Mail service. Each primary receptacle containing a liquid must be leakproof and surrounded by absorbent material sufficient to protect the primary receptacle and absorb the total amount of liquid should the primary receptacle leak or break. Each primary receptacle containing a solid must be sift proof. Secondary containers for liquids must be leak proof. Secondary containers for solids must be sift proof. The primary and secondary packaging must be enclosed in a rigid outer shipping container. A single primary receptacle must not contain more than 1 liter (34 ounces) of a liquid specimen or 4 kg (8.8 pounds) of a solid specimen. Multiple primary receptacles whose combined volume does not exceed 4 liters (1 gallon) for liquids or 4 kg (8.8 pounds) for solids may be enclosed in a single secondary container. In addition:
- The secondary container must be marked with the international biohazard symbol shown in DMM Exhibit 601.10.17.5d3.
- A primary receptacle or secondary packaging containing liquid must be capable of withstanding, without leakage, an internal pressure producing a pressure differential of not less than 95 kPa (0.95 bar, 14 psi) in the range of -40° C to 55° C (-40° F to 130° F).
- All mailpieces sent under DMM 601.10.17.4 must be marked on the address side with the shipping name “Biological substance, Category B” and the “UN 3373” marking as outlined in 49 CFR 173.199 (a) (5).
- Orientation arrows are not required on these mailpieces but may be used.
- The outer packaging must show the name and telephone number of a person who is knowledgeable about the material shipped and has comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information, or of someone who has immediate access to the person with such knowledge and information.
Nonregulated materials are not subject to regulation as materials but must be properly packaged, marked, and labeled as indicated in DMM 601.10.17.8 when presented for mailing.
Exempt human or animal specimens are not subject to regulation as materials but must be properly packaged, marked, and labeled as indicated in DMM 601.10.17.9 when presented for mailing.
Items that contain perishable biological substances must be given careful yet expeditious handling from receipt through dispatch.
Shipments containing infectious substances must be segregated from other types of mail matter (i.e., placed in separate sacks). PS Tag 44, Sack Contents Warning, must be attached to the outside of sacks to identify the nature of the contents. PS Tag 44 is for internal use only, and must be removed from mail sacks, and the materials tendered to air carriers as outside pieces.
Shipments containing radioactive materials are acceptable in international mail subject to the provisions of DMM 601 and of Publication 52, , Restricted, and Perishable Mail, and under the following conditions:
- Shipments may be sent only by First-Class Mail International service or Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes or Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes with Registered Mail service.
- Shipments may be sent only to those countries that have expressed a willingness to accept radioactive materials. See “Prohibitions and Restrictions” in the Individual Country Listings.
- Shipments must comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency rules and regulations.
- Senders and recipients of radioactive materials must receive prior authorization from the appropriate regulatory authorities within their countries.
- A white package label bearing the French words “Matieres Radioactives” (Radioactive Materials) must be applied to the address side of each package containing radioactive materials. Senders are responsible for supplying and affixing this label to the package.
- The package must also bear the following endorsements in bold letters: “RETURN TO SENDER IN CASE OF NONDELIVERY” and “RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS, QUANTITIES PERMITTED FOR MOVEMENT BY POST.”