3…2…1…blast off! You can ship model rockets and toy propellants with the US Postal Service. However, you can only use ground transportation services such as Parcel Select Ground and/or Retail Ground, and you can’t ship them internationally. You’ll also need to abide by several labeling and packaging regulations, since USPS classifies model rockets and toy propellants as a type of hazardous material.
You Have to Use Parcel Select or Retail Ground to Ship Model Rockets or Toy Propellants
In this case, the two USPS ground services you’ll be restricted to are Parcel Select Ground (what you’ll pay when you use online shipping software) and Retail Ground (what you’ll pay at the Post Office). These two options are essentially the same level of service, just with different names.
Since you’re stuck with ground service, that means that all other USPS mail classes—such as Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express—are out of the question.
USPS Requires Written Authorization
You’ll also need to obtain written authorization if you want to use the Postal Service to ship your model rockets or toy propellants. Don’t skip this step! USPS’ website states that you need to present a legible photocopy of the Product Classification Manager‘s approval letter to the USPS acceptance clerk when you mail your package.
Here’s where you’ll need to write to in order to get the written authorization:
- MANAGER, PRODUCT CLASSIFICATION
- USPS HEADQUARTERS
- 475 L’ENFANT PLAZA SW, ROOM 4446
- WASHINGTON, DC
Pro Tip: You can skip the snail mail and call 202-268-7281/7261 to obtain written authorization.
Properly Packaging Toy Propellants and Model Rockets
You’ll also need to follow some pretty strict packaging and design guidelines to send out your rockets or toy propellants. Obviously, you need to place each device in a securely sealed primary container, and make sure your outer packaging is a strong, corrugated box. Note that your package’s total weight can’t exceed 25 pounds.
In addition, according to USPS’ packaging instructions on their website, each device of the model rockets and toy propellants:
- Must be ignitable by electrical means only
- Can’t contain more than 30g (1.07 ounces) of propellant
- Must produce less than 80 newton seconds of total impulse with thrust duration not less than 0.050 second
- Need to be constructed so that all chemical ingredients are preloaded into a cylindrical paper or similarly constructed nonmetallic tube that does not fragment into sharp, hard pieces
- Can not be capable of bursting under normal conditions
- Can not be capable of spontaneous ignition under 500° Fahrenheit
- Must not contain any type of explosive or pyrotechnic warhead other than a small, activation–charge, parachute–recovery system
Don’t Forget the Markings and Documentation
This part is crucial! You need to clearly mark the outer packaging of your box with “Toy Propellant Devices,” followed by the applicable shipping name and UA/NA number. For your reference, here’s what those proper shipping names and numbers are for both model rockets and toy propellants:
- Model Rocket Motors: NA0323
- Igniters: UN0454
Next, mark the address side of the box with “Surface Only” and “Handle with Care.” Finally, you’ll need to affix a Shipper’s Declaration of Dangerous Goods to the outside of your package. Once you do all of those things, you’ll be ready for take off!