What are Materials of Trade? (Updated With New Information)


Understanding MOTs and Their Significance

According to the Cornell Law School Open Access Legal Online Library, which takes data right from the DOT, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration defines Materials of Trade as the following:

“Material of trade means a hazardous material*, other than a hazardous waste**, that is carried on a motor vehicle –

For the purpose of protecting the health and safety of the motor vehicle operator or passengers;

For the purpose of supporting the operation or maintenance of a motor vehicle (including its auxiliary equipment); or

By a private motor carrier (including vehicles operated by a rail carrier) in direct support of a principal business that is other than transportation by motor vehicle.

Hazardous material means a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined can pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has designated as hazardous under section 5103 of Federal hazardous materials transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5103). The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Table (see 49 CFR 172.101), and materials that meet the defining criteria for hazard classes and divisions in part 173 of this subchapter.

Hazardous waste means any material that is subject to the Hazardous Waste Manifest Requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specified in 40 CFR part 262.”

Examples of Hazardous Materials (other than hazardous waste) – or Materials of Trade – that would be shipped can be found in the following list:

Propane, Acetylene

Non-flammable Gases (Division 2.2)

Oxygen, Nitrogen

Flammable or Combustible Liquids (Class 3)

Paint, Paint Thinner, Gasoline

Flammable Solids (Division 4.1)

Paint, Paint Thinner, Gasoline

Flammable Solids (Division 4.1)


Dangerous When Wet Materials (Division 4.3)

Some Fumigants

Oxidizers (Division 5.1)

Bleaching Compounds

Organic Peroxides (Division 5.2)

Benzoyl Peroxide

Poisons (Division 6.1)


Some Infectious Substances (Division 6.2)

Diagnostic Specimens

Corrosive Materials (Class 8)

Muriatic Acid, Drain Cleaners, Battery Acid

Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials (Class 9)

Asbestos, Self-inflating Lifeboats

Hair Spray, Spray Paints (Air Only)

Consumer Commodities (ORM-D)

It is important to know that you can find the specific regulations that apply to Materials of Trade in 49 CFR 173.6. Topics included are as follows:

  • Quantity Limitations;
  • Packaging requirements; general knowledge of MOTs regulations; and
  • Marketing and labeling requirements.

That said, it is crucial for the parties involved to understand if HMR requirements apply if you are shipping or carrying hazardous materials.

Interestingly, Materials of Trade do not require:

  • Training or retention of training documentation;
  • Placarding;
  • Emergency response information; or
  • Shipping papers.

To help round out the full picture of what is meant when speaking of Materials of Trade, the PHMSA goes on to say this on MOTs:

“Certain hazardous materials transported in small quantities as part of a business are subject to less regulation, because of the limited hazard they pose. These materials are known as Materials of Trade.”

This is a very good summary provided by the PHMSA in that is specifically isolates the situation that transporting what are normally considered Hazardous Materials can be thought of or regulated as Materials of Trade. Not to mention how much of a simpler language it is written in.

Further, Materials of Trade are noted as requiring special packaging and marking requirements based on the type of material and its packaging. Also, if you are shipping hazardous material as MOTs, there are specific limitations and exceptions on package quantities and weights. For more details on these requirements, it is a good idea to dig deeper into their relevant regulations.

You must also comply with requirements of the exception for packaging, hazard communication, aggregate weight, and informing the driver:


In general, the Materials of Trade Exception does not require specification packaging as is required for other HazMat shipments.  Packaging requirements include:

  • Use the manufacturer’s original packaging or one of equal or greater strength and integrity.
  • Packagings must be leak tight for liquids and gases and sift-proof for solids.
  • Packages must be securely closed, secured against movement, and protected from damage.
  • Outer packagings are not required for cans or bottles if they are secured against shifting in cages, carts, bins, boxes, or compartments.
  • For gasoline, the packaging must be made of metal or plastic and be in USDOT/PHMSA authorized packaging or comply with OSHA regulations at 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2) or 1926.152(a)(1).
  • Cylinders or pressure vessels containing Division 2.1 or 2.2 compressed gases must be in USDOT/PHMSA authorized packaging.  However, outer packagings are not required.  Manifolding of cylinders is allowed provided all valves are tightly closed.
  • The limits to each container’s capacity is indicated in Table 1.


The Materials of Trade Exception has simple requirements for communicating the potential hazards of the HazMat.  Not required are shipping papers, labels, placards, or emergency information.  Hazard Communication requirements are limited to marking the packaging as follows:

  • A non-bulk packaging must be marked with a common name (e.g., gasoline, spray paint, fuel sample) or a proper shipping name from the Hazardous Materials Table.  This requirement does not apply to a cylinder.
    • A cylinder must be marked according to the full regulations of the Hazardous Materials Regulations.  DOT specification cylinders must be marked as required by §178.65(i).
  • If a non-bulk packaging contains a Reportable Quantity of a Hazardous Substance, then it must also be marked with the letters “RQ”.
  • A dilute Class 9 Miscellaneous material in a bulk packaging must be marked with the 4-digit identification number for the HazMat on two opposing sides.


Interestingly, HazMat Employee training is not required for the operator of a vehicle utilizing the Materials of Trade Exception.  However, you are required to inform the driver of the requirements of this section.  I suggest you inform him of what is being transported, its potential hazards, and the applicable packaging and marking requirements. And while no documentation of your informing the driver is required, I suggest you create some record to provide in the event of an inspection.


The aggregate gross weight of all Materials of Trade on a vehicle must be ≤200 kg (440 lb).  However, a dilute Class 9 Miscellaneous material in a bulk packaging is not counted toward the vehicle aggregate weight threshold.


Other hazardous materials not subject to the exception may be transported on the motor vehicle.

Is Hazmat Training required to transport MOTs under the HMR.

Although entities transporting MOTs are excepted from the training requirements prescribed in part 172, subpart H of the HMR, very basic training is required in that operators of the motor vehicle must be informed of the presence of the hazardous material on the vehicle and the requirements prescribed in § 173.6. Note that each cylinder must be maintained, marked and labeled as prescribed in the HMR (see § 173.6(b)(5) and (c)(3)). Further the total quantity of MOTs transported on a motor vehicle may not exceed 440 lbs. gross weight (see § 173.6(d)).

Does a vehicle operator required to have a hazardous material (hazmat) endorsement on a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to transport MOTs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for issuing the licensing standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers in 49 CFR part 383 that require a driver who transports hazardous material shipments to obtain a hazmat endorsement on a CDL. However, the requirement for a hazmat endorsement only applies to shipments for which a placard is required under the HMR or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73. Because MOTs are excepted from the placarding requirements prescribed in part 172, subpart F of the HMR, a hazmat endorsement on a CDL is not required.

Can MOTs be transported in a “personal pickup truck” and whether they must be secured against shifting.

The answer is yes to both. Section 171.8 defines a MOT to include a private motor carrier transporting hazardous materials in direct support of a principal business that is other than transportation by motor vehicle. Further, MOTs requirements in § 173.6(b)(1) state that packaging must be leak tight for liquids and gases, securely closed, secured against shifting, and protected against damage.

The key to this is that no matter what line of work you are doing or what type of carrier you are, there is a high likelihood you are transporting or carrying some sort of hazardous materials as part of your daily routine. If you are aware of this, you will know to get educated on and follow the requirements set forth by the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). That will make sure you and your peers know how to classify and package materials, how to properly mark them, how to complete shipping papers, how to provide emergency contact information, how to use the correct placarding, and how to make sure training and retention of documented training is occurring.

This knowledge is what allows you to determine if you are dealing with Materials of Trade and how to follow those specific requirements.