Is my Package dangerous?

Is my Package dangerous?

Many of us will be changing the way we celebrate Christmas this year, due to Covid-19. Making things more difficult is the different restrictions on different countries within the UK, alongside the local restrictions. If like me, you are wanting to be prepared for the upcoming celebrations you may well be considering shipping/posting your gifts.

What do I mean by dangerous goods?

Your package may be dangerous, and you may not have thought about it. Obviously, I am not saying you are trying to ship explosives or fire, far from it. But you would be amazed at what is classed as Dangerous Goods!

During my dangerous goods training (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Air many years ago provided by Peter East) we were discussing different Dangerous goods, I was surprised when the tutor asked “did you know Coconuts are classified as dangerous goods?”. Until that point I hadn’t considered Coconuts dangerous, I generally thought Coconuts are harmless unless dropped on your toe, the tutor explained that during transportation they are a fire hazard (they can rub together and create fire). This opened my eyes to why things I may not have previously considered could be classed as Dangerous!

When you are shipping or posting your item the general definition of Dangerous Good is anything that could harm a person or the environment. (Flammable items like alcohol or cotton wool, corrosive items like bleach, explosive items like Christmas crackers (yes, the crack you hear when you pull is a small explosion) and the obvious Batteries).

How do I know what I can ship/send?

It is your responsibility to check you can ship items without restrictions. Each courier has their own list of Dos and Don’ts which should be checked before booking to ship a parcel. For quick to reference, I use the Royal Mails resource “What Can I Send”, as this provides an easy to navigate site with instructions and guides per item.

There are so many stories online of items being destroyed by the Royal Mail due to items not being declared correctly, it really is imperative that you declare exact contents of your package. Unless you want to risk receiving a letter advising your item(s) were destroyed as they are prohibited!

If your gift is listed as prohibited or restricted, I recommend you either rethink your gift, or have the supplier deliver directly to the recipient. Businesses can raise the correct documentation to ship per the relevant regulations, in my opinion it is not feasible for an individual to ship/send these types of items.

If you are a business that ships Dangerous Goods and are unsure, please contact a Dangerous Goods expert for advice!

Why should I care?

How many of you have been to the post office with a parcel and the Postmaster/ Post Clerk asks you what the parcel contains. How many of you (myself included) have felt this is a bit intrusive and personal? They must ask due to regulations/laws for shipping Dangerous Goods.

Imagine Dolly sends a box containing 20 x 1 Litre bottles of Vodka, nothing on the box lets anyone know they are there. Max decides to send some Lithium Ion batteries, again nothing marked on the box. The box with vodka in has started to leak as one of the bottles has cracked, to make things worse one of the batteries has shorted and starts a fire. Now we have fire and fuel!!!! The poor delivery driver has no idea that the fire was started with by a lithium battery shorting and douses the flames with water. Not a good idea but how were they to know!!!

Had both Max and Dolly declared their items the driver could have decided the best way to proceed in this instance would not be to douse the fire with water!  We care for the safety of others.

Are you surprised?

Now you understand why items are classed as Dangerous Goods, you can identify when your parcel is classed as Dangerous. The good news is most items can still be sent if the courier guidelines are followed.

I hope this helps to plan your gifts and shipments this Christmas…….better to find out before you buy the gift if it can be shipped!



  Please note I am no longer certified to ship Dangerous Goods by any means.
This Blog is for advisory purposes and is solely my opinion.