UPS Makes it Harder to Ship and Receive Tobacco Products

UPS Updates Policy for Shipping Tobacco and Vapor Products

Shipping tobacco products is an important part of the trade business and one of the largest shippers in the U.S., UPS, has updated its policy towards regulated products like tobacco.

UPS starts off its tobacco policy by stating that tobacco product shipments are accepted for transportation only from shippers that are licensed and authorized to ship tobacco products “pursuant to applicable laws. Those shipping tobacco products must sign, agree to, and comply with UPS’ agreement for the transportation of tobacco products. UPS using the same definition for tobacco products as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which includes any product made from tobacco and is extended to include e-cigarettes, hookah, e-cigars, vape pens, refillable personal vaporizers and electronic pipes. Shippers are also expected to comply with all applicable federal, state, provincial, or local laws or regulations. All tobacco product shipments must also conform to the terms, conditions, restrictions and prohibitions outlined by UPS.

“It is the responsibility of the Shipper to ensure that a shipment tendered to UPS, including a tobacco product shipment, does not violate any federal, state, provincial, or local laws or regulations applicable to the shipment,” the company writes on is regulated items page for tobacco products.

This updated policy reflects the current regulatory environment which has become much more stricter in terms of how products regulated by the FDA, such as covered tobacco products, are moved across country and received. The updated policy also gives UPS the right to refuse to accept, transport or deliverance tobacco shipment that determines to be out of compliance with UPS’ policy or applicable law or regulation. This should give businesses that utilize UPS’ service pause considering it means no tobacco-containing package is truly guaranteed delivery and that UPS has the right to determine whether or not the shipper is in compliance with regulation or not. The policy goes on to state that UPS reserves the right to dispose of any tobacco-containing package that it determines is prohibited from shipping that it is not authorize to accept and ship.

It may be a surprise to many tobacco businesses that UPS does not allow its services to be used to ship cigarettes or little cigars to consumers and that it requires a signature from an adult (21 years or older) upon delivery. Other restrictions that shippers should be aware of when it comes to tobacco products include:

  • UPS does not provide service to any person or entity listed in the Bureau UPS prohibits the shipment of cigarettes or little cigars to consumers, regardless of destination state.
  • All tobacco product shipments must be made using UPS Delivery Confirmation Adult Signature Required service, requiring the signature of an adult 21 years of age or older upon delivery.
  • Federal law imposes labeling and packaging, record-keeping, and tax-collecting obligations relating to permissible tobacco shipments. See 18 U.S.C. § 376a.
  • Federal law limits the quantity of tobacco that may be permissibly shipped. See 18 U.S.C. § 376a.
  • Most states require that some or all tobacco products bear tax stamps; shippers are responsible for reviewing state or local laws governing the required tax stamps for any tobacco products they tender to UPS for shipment, to ensure that UPS is not carrying any tobacco products that do not bear the requisite tax stamps.

UPS’ policy applies to vaping products as well, meaning any packages containing these products will only be accepted by those who have been approved of by the UPS and signed its tobacco product transportation agreement. Those shipping vaping products must also obtain and use a specially-issued UPS account number approved for the shipment of any vaping products or vaping accessories.

You can review UPS’ guidelines for shipping tobacco products here.