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Shipping Dangerous Goods

Shipping Dangerous Goods 3.50/5 (70.00%) 2 votes
Monday 7th October 2019 No Comments »
Shipping Dangerous Goods


If you want to transport dangerous goods, there are rules on how to pack and label them and the training your staff must have.


You may also need to have a Dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA)

Packaging and labelling

Dangerous goods must be packaged and labelled appropriately. If you have a DGSA they will tell you about the requirements.

What are dangerous goods?

Dangerous goods are separated into different classes which affect how you must package and transport them. If you’re only shipping limited quantities the rules aren’t as strict.

Class Type of material
1 Explosive substances and articles
2.1 Flammable gas (eg butane)
2.2 Non-flammable and non-toxic gases which could cause asphyxiation (eg nitrogen, helium, carbon dioxide) or oxidisers (eg oxygen)
2.3 Toxic gases (eg chlorine, phosgene)
3 Flammable liquids (eg lighter fluid, petrol)
4.1 Flammable solids, self-reactive substances and solid desensitised explosives
4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
4.3 Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
5.1 Oxidising substances
5.2 Organic peroxides
6.1 Toxic substances
6.2 Infectious substances
7 Radioactive material
8 Corrosive substances
9 Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

The consignor or sender is responsible for classifying, packaging and marking any dangerous goods to be transported.

Clinical waste

To carry clinical waste (eg from a hospital or veterinary surgery) you must be registered as a waste carrier. The Health and Safety Executive website has details of packaging and labelling of containers for clinical waste.


The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) is the UK certification authority for dangerous goods packaging and some bulk containers. Before you order any packaging make sure that the supplier sends you:

  • A copy of the safety certificate
  • Information (‘datasheets’) on how to use the packaging properly
  • Any test reports for the selected packaging

Get details of approved packaging suppliers at the VCA website.

If you need advice on dangerous goods packaging, contact the VCA.

VCA dangerous goods office
01372 226111
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Dangerous goods safety adviser

If you transport dangerous goods, you must have a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA) unless:

  • You only do it occasionally (eg breakdown recovery vehicles)
  • You’re only receiving the dangerous goods (you’re the ‘consignee’)
  • They’re in ‘limited quantities’
  • You’re moving them a very short distance by road eg between buildings on an industrial estate
  • You’re using private vehicles

A DGSA must receive training on an approved training course. Further guidance on training is available from the Department for Transport website. Read part 1.8.3 of ‘ADR 2011 Annex A: General provisions and provisions concerning dangerous substances and articles’ for more information on dangerous goods safety advisers.

You always need a dangerous goods safety adviser if you’re transporting goods internationally.

Appointing a dangerous goods safety adviser

You can either get a member of staff trained as a dangerous goods safety adviser or use a company that specialises in providing dangerous goods safety advice. For advice on appointing a safety adviser, call the Department for Transport helpline.

Department for Transport helpline
020 7944 2755
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Rules for different types of transport

By air

The internationally agreed rules for transporting dangerous goods by air are covered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) International Dangerous Goods Regulations Anyone packing dangerous goods for air transport must be specially trained. If you’re using your own aircraft to transport the goods, you and your staff must have dangerous goods training.

You can be given an unlimited fine, sentenced to two years in prison or both if your cargo fails an inspection or causes a safety incident.

By road

The internationally agreed rules for transporting dangerous goods by road are covered by ‘ADR 2011′. There’s a range of fixed penalty fines from £100 to £500 if your cargo fails a spot check.

By sea

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code provides guidance on transporting dangerous goods by sea. You need to complete a dangerous goods notification for any dangerous goods you want to send by sea.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has advice on packaging and the transport of bulk goods eg oil.

You can be fined for breaking the regulations on transporting dangerous goods. For serious breaches eg transporting animal by-products in an unsafe way, you can be prosecuted and face a large fine and a prison sentence.

Enforcing and reporting


You must follow regulations for transporting dangerous goods safely and securely. There are different authorities responsible for inspecting and making sure the rules are followed depending on how the goods are transported.

If you need to report an incident or someone breaking the regulations, you should contact the relevant authority.

Who to contact

For goods transported by air:

  • Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – Operations and safety – Dangerous goods

For goods transported by rail:

  • Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) – Health and safety regulation

For goods transported by road:

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – operational strategy and enforcement
  • Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) – Enforcement and compliance
  • Environment Agency – Hazardous waste
  • Police

For goods transported by sea:

  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) – Dangerous goods

The transport of all radioactive materials (class 7) is regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation

At Bizorb we aim to provide the most accurate and up to date information to you. This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0. If you spot any errors in this article please let us know.

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