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Shipping Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Materials

Shipping dangerous goods and hazardous materials within and outside the United States is subject to a variety of governmental regulations and industry requirements. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the shipping of hazardous materials within the United States.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulates shipping dangerous goods outside the United States and on aircrafts. The majority of the carriers require shippers to follow IATA requirements when shipping dangerous goods through the air. Ground shipments within the Unites States must follow the DOT 49 Code of Federal Regulation Subpart C Hazardous Materials regulations.

Fines and penalties can be imposed against individuals and companies who fail to comply with the applicable regulations and requirements including proper classification, identification, packaging, marking, labeling and documentation. Non-compliance fines and penalties are as follows:

  • Up to $250,000 and up to a year jail sentence for individuals
  • Up to $500,000 per incident for organizations

DOT and IATA training is mandatory for anyone involved with shipping dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials.  The carrier relies on the shipper’s ability to properly package, label and declare goods. A shipper is defined as someone that does any of the following:

  • Marking and labeling packages
  • Filling packages
  • Accepting packages for shipment
  • Supervising the shipping activities
  • Preparing shipping documentation
  • Loading trucks

The University’s Shipping Biological Materials training provided online ( satisfies the DOT and IATA training requirements for shipping Category A Infectious Substance (UN2900 or UN2814), Category B Infectious Substance (UN3373), Patient Specimen (Animal or Human), Genetically Modified Organisms, Biological Products, and Dry Ice used a refrigerant. This training does not satisfy the DOT and IATA requirements for shipping other dangerous goods or hazardous materials (e.g. chemicals, drugs, explosives, gases, etc.).

Upon completion of the required training the shipper must contact the carrier to establish a contract to ship dangerous goods or hazardous materials. The carrier will provide shipping software that allows these types of shipments.