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Cargo Dangerous Goods: shipping Guide

cargo dangerous goods

How to Ship Dangerous Goods

Before offering a dangerous goods to an air carrier for shipment, the Hazardous Materials Regulations require you, the shipper, to properly classify, package, mark and label the package to identify the hazard.

When shipping dangerous goods (e.g., lithium batteries or battery powered devices, aerosols, oxygen cylinders) or flammable liquids (e.g., perfumery products or alcoholic beverages) please follow these steps to ensure your package is correctly packed and marked. Some air carriers may have additional carrier-specific requirements, so always check with your carrier before offering your dangerous goods shipment.

Step 1:

The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a good starting point for determining if an item you are shipping might be a dangerous good. Typically, you can obtain an SDS from the manufacturer of the products that you plan to ship by air, and check the transportation information section. Pay particular attention to the specific information that pertains to shipments by air.

Step 2:

If you determine that an item is a dangerous good, the FAA recommends that you perform a needs assessment analysis to determine which employees at your company will be performing a hazmat function and identify the level of training that is needed by the regulations.

Step 3:

For most employees, training will include general and security awareness, safety, and function-specific training. Under the 49 CFR, a hazmat employee is required receive recurrent training every three years.

Step 4:

Have a trained employee look up the material in the Hazardous Materials Table or the ICAO TI, as required, to determine the authorized quantities permitted to be shipped, labels required, and the allowable packaging as per the 49 CFR Part 173 or the applicable ICAO TI packing instruction.

Step 5:

Determine the quantities and corresponding packaging requirements for your shipments. Depending on the packing group assigned to the hazardous material, UN-Specification packaging may be required.

Step 6:

If UN-Specification packaging (PDF) is required, read the package closure instructions carefully and obtain all the materials listed in instructions, such as tape, zip ties, poly bags, etc. Be sure to follow the information closely. Furthermore, review the additional requirements under 49 CFR Part 173.27(c)(3)(ii) if shipping liquids in single packages by air.

Step 7:

Once you have the proper packaging, obtain the appropriate hazard communication.

Step 8:

Mark and label the package.

Step 9:

If you are using a combination package, place the material in its inner packaging in accordance with the closure instructions. Then place the inner packaging in its authorized outer packaging and seal the package in accordance with the package closure instructions.

Step 10:

Fill out the shipping paper and affix it to the outside of the package in an unobstructed area. For example, Guidance for Shipper’s Declaration (PDF).

Step 11:

Your package is ready to be shipped.

Step 12:

Keep the Shipper’s Declaration on file for a period of two years.

What are hazardous materials?

By this definition, hazardous materials can be in solid, liquid, or gaseous form. They include everything and anything from household chemicals and lithium batteries to infectious substances, dry ice, liquid nitrogen, radioactive material, and beyond.

Naturally, shipping hazardous materials means a whole lot more preparation that includes getting the required certification, proper packaging, the appropriate paperwork, etc. ⁠— all the while ensuring requirements are met and rules are complied with.

In this post, we’ll talk about how to determine whether your cargo is classified as hazardous and what to look out for when shipping hazardous material.


The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code was developed as a uniform international code for the transport of dangerous goods by sea covering such matters as packing, container traffic and stowage, with particular reference to the segregation of incompatible substances.

The Carriage of dangerous goods and marine pollutants in sea-going ships is respectively regulated in the International Convention for the Safety of the Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

Relevant parts of both SOLAS and MARPOL have been worked out in great detail and are included in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, thus making this Code the legal instrument for maritime transport of dangerous goods and marine pollutants. As of 1st January 2004, the IMDG Code has become a mandatory requirement.

For all modes of transport (sea, air, rail, road and inland waterways) the classification (grouping) of dangerous goods, by type of risk involved, has been drawn up by the UNITED NATIONS Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UN).

Class 1:Explosives

  • Subclass 1.1: Explosives with a mass explosion hazard
  • Subclass 1.2: Explosives with a severe projection hazard
  • Subclass 1.3: Explosives with a fire
  • Subclass 1.4: Minor fire or projection hazard
  • Subclass 1.5: An insensitive substance with a mass explosion hazard
  • Subclass 1.6: Extremely insensitive articles

Class 2 :Gases

  • Subclass 2.1: Flammable Gas
  • Subclass 2.2: Non-Flammable Gases
  • Subclass 2.3: Poisonous Gases

Class 3:Flammable Liquids

Class 4:Flammable solids or substances

  • Subclass 4.1: Flammable solids
  • Subclass 4.1: Self-reactive substances
  • Subclass 4.1: Solid desensitized explosives
  • Subclass 4.1: Polymerizing substances and mixtures (stabilized)
  • Subclass 4.2: Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
  • Subclass 4.2: Comprises
  • Subclass 4.3: Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases

Class 5: Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides

  • Subclass 5.1: Oxidizing substances
  • Subclass 5.2: Organic peroxides

Class 6: Toxic substances

  • Subclass 6.1: Toxic substance
  • Subclass 6.2: Infectious substances

Class 7:Radioactive material

Class 8:Corrosive substances

Class 9:Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles and environmentally hazardous substances

substances and articles (miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles) are substances and articles which, during transport, present a danger not covered by other classes.

• Substances which, by inhalation as fine dust, may endanger health
• Substances evolving flammable vapour
• Lithium batteries
• Life-saving appliances
• Capacitors
• Substances and articles which, in the event of fire, may form dioxins
• Substances transported or offered for transport at elevated temperatures
• Environmentally hazardous substances
• Genetically modified microorganisms (GMMOs) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)Other substances or articles presenting a danger during transport, but not meeting the definitions of another class.