How To Ship Dangerous Goods Overseas

Posted on October 21, 2021
Categorised as Freight Forwarding Services

Shipping dangerous goods requires a different process to shipping other everyday items. It’s important that you know exactly what you need to do in order to safely transport your dangerous goods overseas, but the rules and regulations can be complicated and confusing.

Our guide can help you to prepare to ship dangerous goods, from knowing whether your shipment is hazardous to the steps you can take to ensure it is shipped safely.

What classes as a Dangerous Good?

Goods are classified as dangerous if they could cause harm to the shipper, other items in the shipment, or the environment. Dangerous goods count whether they entirely consist of the hazardous material or just partly contain it.

This will include items like chemicals, aerosols, and certain gases. It also includes equipment that contains lithium batteries, like mobile phones and laptops, as the battery can overheat and ignite in some circumstances.

The United Nations has a universal system to classify various dangerous goods. Which category the goods fall into will affect how they will need to be labelled and packaged to be shipped safely.

There are nine classes of dangerous goods, plus some sub-classes:

  • Class 1: Explosives – including fireworks and firearms
  • Class 2: Gases
    • Class 2.1: Flammable gases – including butane, aerosols, and lighters
    • Class 2.2: Non-flammable, non-toxic gases – including nitrogen, helium, and fire extinguishers
    • Class 2.3: Toxic gases – including chlorine, ammonia, and ethylene oxide
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids – including petrol, lighter fluid, and printing ink
  • Class 4: Flammable Solids
    • Class 4.1: Flammable solids and self-reactive substances – including matches, sulphur powder, and camphor
    • Class 4.2: Spontaneously combustible materials – including phosphorus, fish meal, and copra
    • Class 4.3: Substances that are dangerous when wet – including calcium carbide, sodium, and potassium metals
  • Class 5: Oxidising substances
    • Oxidising materials – including fertilisers, hair dye, and hydrogen peroxide
    • Organic peroxides – including hardeners and fibreglass repair kits
  • Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Substances
    • Toxic materials – including pesticides, sodium cyanide, and chromium salt
    • Infection substances – including blood samples and medical substances
  • Class 7: Radioactive materials – including smoke detectors and materials used to sterilise medical products
  • Class 8: Corrosive materials – including bleach, dishwasher tablets, and car batteries
  • Class 9: Other dangerous substances and articles – including lithium batteries, magnets, and dry ice

Limits to Quantities

Some items are only classed as dangerous if they are being shipped over a certain quantity. For example, perfume, paints, and some plastics will all be classified as dangerous if the amount exceeds the limit. In this case, the shipment would require extra steps taken with packaging and labelling to ensure it can be shipped safely.

Use a Specialised Freight Services Shipper

The most important thing you can do if you need to ship dangerous goods overseas is to use an experienced specialist freight services shipper. Dangerous goods shipping requires expert knowledge and staff who have been well trained with the latest practices.

PBS has a dedicated team who can assist with every stage of the shipment process, ensuring that your goods will be transported safely, with care given to your items, the people handling your shipment, and other items that may be in the shipment.

We also have a team specialising in shipping firearms overseas. We can ship firearms and ammunition overseas quickly and safely. We have extensive experience shipping firearms, including working with the military transporting all manner of dangerous goods, from ammunition to tanks and armoured vehicles.

Accurate Paperwork

It’s vital that the paperwork for your dangerous goods shipment is completed thoroughly and accurately. Any problems with paperwork could cause delays with the shipment or could cause damage or harm.

International freight shippers will be able to assist you with completing some of the paperwork that’s required, but it’s vital that you pass on detailed and accurate information so this can be done correctly.

Sometimes a materials safety data sheet (MSDS) is required as part of the booking system. This will contain information about the hazardous materials, the potential safety risks associated with them, and what to do if an incident occurs. The MSDS can usually be obtained from the manufacturer of the item.

Proper Packaging

The dangerous goods must be properly packaged to adhere to the UN’s regulations for packaging and labelling. By ensuring your shipment is properly packaged, you prevent any incidents from occurring and get your item shipped quickly and efficiently.

At PBS, we can provide an IATA packaging service that uses UN-approved boxes and packing materials. We can also re-pack items to ensure they meet the right regulations and are safe to ship. We can also ensure shipments are properly labelled with the legally required markings.


PBS International is a fully certified and trained to deal with dangerous goods and hazardous materials. Contact us to speak to our team about how we can help with your dangerous goods shipping.

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