A Shipping Paper is defined at 49 CFR 171.8 as:
Shipping paper means a shipping order, bill of lading, manifest or other shipping document serving a similar purpose and prepared in accordance with subpart C of part 172 of this chapter.
So what is it, exactly…? A Bill of Lading? A Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest? A Shipping Order? A Shipping Document? Half a page of scribbled lines?
Yes to all.
As far as the PHMSA (the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the administration within US DOT responsible for hazardous material transportation) is concerned a Shipping Paper is a document whose purpose is to provide information about a material (hazardous or non-hazardous) when in transportation. The PHMSA doesn’t care (their own words) what the Shipping Paper looks like, what format is used, or whether it is printed by machine or by hand.
Now, if you are transporting (a Carrier) or offering for transport (a Shipper) a Hazardous Material in commerce, then the PHMSA requires the Shipping Paper to meet its requirements at 49 CFR, Subpart C. Even in this case, the PHMSA does not require a specific type or form of Shipping Paper. You may create your own, even write one up by hand, as long as it meets the requirements of §172, Subpart C.
There are some hazardous material shipments that require a specific type of Shipping Paper; such as the transportation of a Hazardous Waste for which the US Environmental Protection Agency requires a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest. Or a Bill of Lading which is required pursuant to the regulations (49 CFR 375.505) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA, another administration within the US DOT). In both cases however, the use of a specific form is required by an Agency other than the PHMSA.
Whatever its appearance, the regulations of §172, Subpart C are specific about what information must be included on a hazardous material Shipping Paper. My HazMat Employee Training (on-site or public workshop) covers these requirements and where you must go to get the information. Contact me to discuss your HazMat transportation requirements.