Shipping Dangerous Goods: A Comprehensive Guide

Shipping and handling hazardous materials is a complex process that requires careful consideration. Before offering dangerous goods to an airline for shipment, the Hazardous Materials Regulations require YOU, the shipper, to properly classify, package, mark and label the package to identify the hazard. It is also important to consider the mode of transport when shipping dangerous goods, as express and fast shipping methods such as overnight or two or three day delivery are likely to involve air transport. Hazardous materials are any substance that can pose a significant risk to health, safety and property when transported for commercial purposes.

The USPS only ships certain hazardous materials, representing between 15 and 20% of all hazardous materials shipped to the United States. When shipping dangerous goods by air, it is essential that they are packaged in a container that is not only safe for dangerous goods being shipped specifically, but is also capable of withstanding aircraft pressure at high altitudes. Additionally, a valid dangerous goods declaration form (for air transport) must be completed. To ship dangerous goods to other countries, you must use packaging that meets all regulations, is tested and certified, and meets the United Nations requirements for the specific classification of the products being shipped.

People may refer to the shipment of hazardous materials as hazardous material for transportation, simply because it's an abbreviation. Before any dangerous goods can be shipped overseas, the corresponding dangerous goods notes must be completed according to the way the goods are shipped and what their dangerous goods classes are. In the past, the term shipping referred only to goods that were transported by sea, while now the term maritime transport can be used interchangeably to refer to goods transported by sea, air and road. Even if you're familiar with shipping dangerous goods using other modes of transport, keep in mind that packaged dangerous goods that are shipped by air must have additional or different markings and labels. You can ship category B biological substances as long as you comply with all United Nations packaging regulations and the guidelines of your transport regulatory body.