• Overpacks 101
  • Karen

    Karen D. Hamel, CSP, WACH, is a regulatory compliance professional, trainer and technical writer for New Pig. She has more than 22 years of experience helping EHS professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations and has had more than 100 articles published on a variety of EHS topics. Karen is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Walkway Auditor Certificate Holder (WACH), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer and hazmat technician. She also serves on the Blair County, Pa., LEPC and has completed a variety of environmental, safety, emergency response, DOT and NIMS courses, including Planning Section Chief. She has conducted seminars at national conferences and webinars for ASSE and other national organizations. She can be reached at 1-800-HOT-HOGS (468-4647) or by email karenea@newpig.com.

  • Shawnsays:
    09/16/2016 at 7:05 pm Reply

    When making an overpacks with containers that contain liquids, do the inner containers have to be dot approved?

    • Karensays:
      09/22/2016 at 12:24 pm Reply

      Hi Shawn,

      No, the inner containers do not need to meet DOT shipping requirements. They do, however, need to be intact, non-leaking and of sufficient strength to withstand the rigors of transportation. To help ensure that the inner container or containers remain intact, DOT requires cushioning and absorbent materials to help prevent inner containers from breaking and to absorb liquids if an inner container does happen to break while the container is in transit.


  • Andresays:
    12/29/2016 at 3:39 am Reply

    Hi, i have 5 packages that contain lithium batteries all of them go to Japan but later on they are delivered to 5 different end Customers, therefore is it.required to declare pallet as an overpack?

    • Karensays:
      01/04/2017 at 8:23 am Reply

      Hi Andre, thanks for your question.

      There are a couple of considerations when you’re overpacking hazardous materials for shipment. For example, if the inner packages of batteries are each properly marked, not fragile and each inner package does not weigh more than 20 kilograms, you can shrink or stretch wrap the pallet [49 CFR 173.25(b)].

      If you are placing the inner packages in a box or other type of overpack container that does not allow visibility of the inner packages, you should follow the requirements in 49 CFR 173.25(a), which require the overpack to be:

      • Marked with the proper shipping name and ID number
      • Labeled as required for the hazardous material in the packages
      • Marked appropriately with orientation marking arrows
      • Marked with the word “OVERPACK” in letters at least 12 mm high

      Because you’ll be shipping this internationally, other regulations may apply, especially because you’re shipping lithium batteries.

      Hope this information helps! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave another comment.


  • Max Jonessays:
    06/22/2017 at 11:00 am Reply

    My wife and I have been looking into shipping containers and options for ways that we could send things to our friends in Europe. I like how you talked about the option of using overpacks as shipping containers, and I think that it would be a good option to be able to protect whatever we’re sending. I’m going to have to look at what some options are for us, and if overpacks would work for what we’re looking to send! Thanks for the help!

    • Karensays:
      06/30/2017 at 11:01 am Reply

      Overpacks are available in many different sizes, so chances are good that you’d probably be able to find one to meet your needs. However, please consider that overpacks are specifically designed to ship hazardous materials and when they are in transit, anyone handling them will expect them to contain a hazardous material unless they are told otherwise. Also, because they are performance tested and designed for shipping hazardous materials, they are more costly than other packaging options.

      If you do decide to use them for shipping anything that is non-hazardous, be sure to remove or black out any verbiage that says “overpack”. This will help expedite shipping and help prevent delays that may be caused by someone inadvertently thinking that the package needs to be handled with greater precaution. Note, also that overpacks have a polymer seal in the lid to prevent leakage from the container. When you screw the lid onto an overpack, it will seal extremely well. This will make it very difficult for the recipient to remove the lid when they receive the items you’re sending them.


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