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Considerations For Shipment Of Dangerous Goods Internationally

Phuc Le
July 14, 2023

When shipping dangerous goods (DG) internationally, it is crucial to carefully consider numerous factors to guarantee the safety and compliance of the shipment. The transportation of hazardous materials is subject to a complex network of regulations and guidelines that vary based on the nature of the goods, mode of transport, and countries involved.

What are Dangerous Goods in International Delivery?

What are Dangerous Goods in International Delivery?

Dangerous goods are items or substances that pose a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment when transported by air, sea, road, or rail. There are nine classes of dangerous goods, each with unique characteristics and features that are susceptible to volatility and pose significant risks if mishandled. International shipping of dangerous goods introduces additional complexities that demand strict adherence to regulations and restrictions. It is the responsibility of all involved parties to uphold safe practices and comply with the established guidelines. Some examples of dangerous goods are explosives, flammable liquids, corrosive substances, radioactive materials, lithium batteries, aerosols, and perfumes. 

How To Safely Deliver Dangerous Goods: Preparation And Key Considerations For Shipping


When shipping dangerous goods, careful planning and adherence to safety protocols are essential to ensure a safe and compliant delivery process. Here are the key things to prepare and consider when shipping dangerous goods:

1. Classification and Identification

Properly classifying and identifying dangerous goods is crucial for accurate labeling and safe handling. The United Nations (UN) classification system categorizes dangerous goods into classes based on their specific hazards. According to a study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), accurate classification reduces the risk of incidents during transportation by 70%.

2. Packaging and Labeling

Using approved packaging materials designed for the specific type of dangerous goods is vital to ensure containment and protection. Adhering to packaging and labeling requirements outlined by organizations like IATA and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code is crucial. Research shows that proper packaging and labeling reduce accidents and incidents by up to 80%, as reported by a study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

3. Documentation

Accurate and comprehensive documentation is a legal requirement when shipping dangerous goods. The Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and relevant permits or certificates provide critical information about the nature, quantity, and handling instructions of hazardous materials. A survey conducted by the Global Shippers Forum revealed that 92% of respondents considered accurate and complete documentation to be essential for the safe transportation of dangerous goods.

4. Compliance with Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the regulations and guidelines set forth by international organizations like IATA and IMDG. Compliance with these regulations ensures the proper packaging, labeling, documentation, and handling of dangerous goods. According to a report by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), adherence to regulatory requirements significantly reduces the risk of incidents and ensures the safety of individuals and the environment.

5. Training and Expertise

Proper training is crucial for personnel involved in handling and transporting dangerous goods. Providing comprehensive training on regulations, safety procedures, and emergency response protocols is essential. According to a study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, employees who received specialized training had a 60% higher compliance rate with safety regulations, leading to reduced incidents and improved overall safety.

6. Transport Mode Considerations

Each mode of transport has its own specific requirements and limitations when it comes to shipping dangerous goods. Consider factors such as the nature of the goods, transit times, and safety considerations when selecting the most appropriate mode. A report by the European Union Agency for Railways found that rail transport has a lower accident rate compared to road transport, making it a favorable choice for the transportation of dangerous goods.

7. Emergency Preparedness

Establishing robust emergency response plans and procedures is essential in case of accidents or incidents involving dangerous goods. Regular training and drills for personnel on emergency response protocols improve readiness and minimize the impact of incidents. The National Safety Council reported that organizations with comprehensive emergency response plans experienced 50% fewer accidents and injuries.

By preparing and considering these key factors, you can ensure the safe and compliant delivery of dangerous goods. Proper classification, packaging, labeling, documentation, compliance with regulations, training, and emergency preparedness are crucial elements in mitigating risks and ensuring the safe handling and transport of dangerous goods.


In many cases, you may be shipping non-DG cargo. However, due to the nature of the contents, we might classify it as a dangerous goods shipment. If you are not an approved shipper, we will either return, reject, or request a Material Safety Data Sheet, a document that proves your shipment does not fall under a DG category. 

For example, you may be shipping hand sanitizer without any alcohol content. Therefore, it does not fall in any DG category because the absence of alcohol makes it non-flammable. The purpose of the MSDS is to give the technical breakdown of your item.

Top International Delivery Services for Shipping Dangerous Goods


When it comes to shipping dangerous goods internationally, there are several reputable delivery services that have proven track records and established programs to ensure safe and compliant transportation. Here are some options supported by data and metrics:

FedEx: FedEx is a widely recognized and trusted global courier service. They offer an extensive Dangerous Goods shipping program, handling millions of dangerous goods shipments annually. According to FedEx's data, their dedicated team of experts assists with over 9,000 hazardous materials shipments daily, demonstrating their experience and capability in this field.

UPS: UPS is another prominent player in the international shipping industry. They have a well-established UPS Hazmat program, which handles a significant volume of dangerous goods shipments worldwide. UPS states that they transport around 3.5 million hazardous materials packages each day, showcasing their expertise and infrastructure for safe transportation.

DHL: DHL is a leading logistics company renowned for its global reach. They offer comprehensive solutions for shipping dangerous goods internationally. According to DHL's statistics, they handle over one million hazardous materials shipments annually, demonstrating their proficiency and ability to navigate complex regulations and requirements.

TNT: TNT, now a part of the FedEx company, has a strong presence in the international shipping market. They specialize in handling dangerous goods shipments and provide tailored solutions for transporting hazardous materials. While specific data for TNT's dangerous goods shipments may not be readily available, their integration into FedEx's network adds to their credibility and resources.

USPS: The United States Postal Service (USPS) also plays a role in shipping certain types of dangerous goods internationally. While USPS primarily focuses on non-hazardous mail and packages, they do have provisions for limited hazardous materials shipping. However, it's important to note that USPS has more stringent restrictions and limitations compared to specialized courier services due to safety considerations.



  • What are considered dangerous goods when shipping internationally?

Dangerous goods, also known as hazardous materials, are items or substances that possess properties or characteristics that can pose risks to health, safety, property, or the environment during transportation. Some common examples include explosives, flammable liquids, gases, corrosives, radioactive materials, and toxic substances.

  • How are dangerous goods classified for international shipping?

Dangerous goods are classified according to international regulations such as the United Nations (UN) Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. They are categorized based on their primary hazards, such as flammability, toxicity, explosiveness, or corrosiveness. Each classification has specific packaging, labeling, and documentation requirements to ensure safe handling and transportation.

  • What are the packaging requirements for shipping dangerous goods internationally?

Packaging requirements for dangerous goods shipments are outlined in international regulations, including the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. The packaging must be appropriate for the specific hazard class and designed to prevent leaks, spills, or any other potential risks during transportation. It should also be labeled with the proper hazard labels, handling instructions, and other required markings.

  • What documentation is needed for shipping dangerous goods internationally?

Shipping dangerous goods internationally requires specific documentation to ensure compliance and safe transport. The primary document is the Dangerous Goods Declaration, which provides essential information about the nature of the goods, their classification, packaging details, and handling instructions. Additional documents may include the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the specific dangerous goods being shipped.

  • Are there any restrictions or prohibitions on shipping certain dangerous goods internationally?

Yes, there are restrictions and prohibitions on shipping certain dangerous goods internationally. Each country has its own regulations and restrictions, which may vary based on the type of dangerous goods being shipped. It is crucial to consult the regulations of the origin and destination countries, as well as the chosen shipping carrier, to ensure compliance with all applicable restrictions and prohibitions.

In conclusion,

Shipping dangerous goods internationally is a complex and challenging task that requires careful planning and preparation. Shippers of dangerous goods must comply with international regulations and standards, as well as local laws and customs. Shippers of dangerous goods must also choose a reliable and experienced carrier who can handle their shipments safely and efficiently.

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