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Introduction To The Transport Of Dangerous Goods

Overview Of The Model Regulations

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The United Nations (UN) Recommendations and Model Regulations for the safe transport of dangerous goods, otherwise known as the UN Orange Book form the basis for modal (road, rail, sea, air and inland waterways) regulation governing the different modes of transport.

Additional requirements specific to the mode of transport are incorporated within the modal regulations, which are updated every two years (except IATA) to reflect the work of the dangerous goods committees. The IATA (air) regulations are updated annually.

Classification Of Dangerous Goods For Transport

There are 9 dangerous goods classes, some of which have divisions:

UN Class

 Dangerous Goods

Division(s) if applicable




1.1 - 1.6





Flammable gas




Non-flammable, non-toxic gas




Toxic gas


Flammable liquid


Flammable liquid


Flammable solids


Flammable solid




Spontaneously combustible substance




Substance which emits flammable gas in contact with water


Oxidizers and organic peroxides


Oxidising substance




Organic peroxide


Toxic and infectious substances


Toxic substance




Infectious substance


Radioactive material


Radioactive material


Corrosive substances


Corrosive substance


Miscellaneous dangerous substances


Miscellaneous dangerous substances

For further information see:

Dangerous goods are assigned to a predominant hazard class, according to the danger presented. However, many dangerous goods present more than one danger, and are classified with one or more subsidiary hazards.

The dangerous goods list, common to all modes of transport identify specific dangerous goods by a United Nations (UN) number, for example: “UN 1088, Acetal, Class 3”.

However, some dangerous goods are listed as generic, not otherwise specified (“n.o.s”.) entries, for example: “UN 1992, Flammable liquid, toxic, n.o.s. Class 3, subsidiary hazard (class) 6.1”.

Generic or n.o.s. entries normally require the dangerous goods description to be supplemented with the technical name of the goods contributing to the classification. The entries requiring the technical description are assigned special provision (SP) 274 or 318 in the dangerous goods list, for example: “UN1992, flammable liquid, toxic, n.o.s. (contains carbon disulphide)”.

The classification of dangerous goods includes a packing group, where applicable. The packing group determines the degree of danger within the hazard class:

Packing Group I: high danger

Packing Group II: medium danger

Packing Group III: low danger

The class and packing group determine how dangerous goods should be packaged, marked and labelled for transport.

Packaging Of Fully Regulated Dangerous Goods For Transport

Packaging must be designed and constructed to UN specification standards and undergo testing to ensure that it is fit for purpose e.g. withstand conditions encountered during transport, such as stacking and vibration.

UN approved packaging is marked with the prefix ‘UN’ and is coded with the specification for the packaging, to include the type of packaging, packing group for which the packaging has been tested, last two digits of the year of manufacture, state authorising the mark and certificate identification.


The mark will also include further information depending on the type of packaging and what it intended to contain. This information will follow the packing group specification.

Limited And Excepted Quantities

The model regulations include provision for ‘limited’ and ‘excepted’ quantities of dangerous goods, with reduced requirements to reflect lower risk. Consignments of limited and excepted quantities of dangerous goods must be contained within good quality packaging, which is not required to conform to UN specification standards. Other relaxations also apply to limited and excepted quantities of dangerous goods, depending on the mode of transport.

Marking And Labelling

Marking refers to UN number, the ‘proper shipping name’ (description of the dangerous goods), UN packaging specification mark, and other markings, such us orientation arrows (this way up):

orientation arrows marine pollutant mark
limited quantity mark.
The mark includes a Y for transportation by air

Labelling mainly refers to the hazard class labels, which are required to identify primary and sub hazards.


Labelling mainly refers to the hazard class labels, which are required to identify primary and sub hazards.

The proper shipping name associated with the UN number for the item classification is provided in the dangerous goods lists of the modal regulations.


Dangerous goods must normally be accompanied by a transport document declaring the description and nature of the goods. Documentation must be in accordance with the specification set by the modal dangerous goods regulations. Additional information and documents may also be required, depending on the mode of transport.

For further information:

See for more information and guidance covering other important exit scenario topics.


 CHCS Training

CHCS offers Modular Training Courses on the writing of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and related issues such as classification, labelling and other documentation. For more information see CHCS Training. In particular we offer the following two courses related to the transport of dangerous goods: 

  • Module 8: Classification For Transport
    Using ADR, this 1-day course provides an introduction to the classification and identification of dangerous goods for transport.

  • Module 10: Transport Labelling & Documentation
    Following on from Module 8, this 1-day course shows how this information is used to communicate the hazards associated with the carriage of dangerous goods to those involved in the transport chain and emergency response.

If you have any queries about our training, please Contact CHCS.

Chemicals Legislation Support From CHCS

We provide a range of pages on this website to give you an introduction to different aspects of chemicals legislation / regulation:

Legislation (Introduction) Brexit Transport: Modal Regulations
International Legislation GHS Pictograms Transport: Model Regulations
European Legislation EU Law Making Process Transport: UK Requirements
UK Legislation EH40  

For CHCS members only: 

REACH Regulation Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Seveso III Directive
CLP Regulation The Cosmetics Regulation Tracking Substances

Page updated December 2019


Poison Centres - Annex VIII amendment published
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/11 amending Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures as regards information relating to emergency health response, has been published. CHCS members can read more on our News Briefings page
[Posted on 13 January 2020]

New CHCS Training Course: "SEVESO Directive / COMAH Regulations: Determine whether your site is in scope of the Directive, understand compliance duties for lower tier sites, and get an outline of upper tier duties"
Registration is now open, with discounted "Early-Bird" bookings available until 28 January 2020. Register / Download The Flyer / Find Out More. [Posted on 7 January 2020]

New CHCS Webinar: "In Vitro Skin Corrosion Testing", 21 January 2020
Attendees will learn how In Vitro tests work, how they can be used within your animal-free testing strategy and updates on recent regulatory changes around the transport of hazardous substances. Free of charge. Register Now[Posted on 7 January 2020]

CHCS AGM & Annual Lectures: Presentations Now Available
CHCS members can now download copies of the presentations given at our 8th Annual Lectures on 20 November 2019. Visit our "Past Events" page. [Posted on 21 November 2019]

CHCS October 2019 Newsletter Now Published
Our October 2019 Newsletter is now available, which includes an in-depth, special report titled "Titanium Dioxide - Stakeholders Demand An Impact Assessment". See our CHCS Newsletters page for more details [Posted on 20 October 2019]

Endocrine Disruptors - 1st CHCS Video
We have produced our first video for members: "Endocrine Disruptors", which is available to members free-of-charge.

This introductory video explains the various components of the human endocrine system and how they interact, to help understand the mechanisms of endocrine disruptors on human systems.

The video is just over 10 minutes long.

To register for access to the video, please visit our video registration page: Endocrine Disruptors Video Registration.

[Posted on 1 July 2019]

News Briefings Summary
  • 21 November 2019
    Commission Directive (EU) 2019/1831 Establishes  A 5th List Of Indicative Occupational Exposure Limit Values (IOELVs)

  • 12 November 2019
    ECHA publishes draft CoRAP for 2020-2022

  • 22 October 2019
    GHS Revision 8

  • 21 October 2019
    Model Regulations, 21st Revised Edition

  • 20 October 2020
    IATA Publishes Significant Changes To The 61st Edition Of The Dangerous Goods Regulations

  • 1 October 2019
    Draft amendment to REACH Annex II

  • 30 September 2019
    Poison Centre First Deadline To Be Postponed

  • 23 September 2019
    Updated advice for UK-based companies intending to export chemicals listed in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation to EU countries in the period immediately following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

  • 28 August 2019
    14th ATP To CLP: Outcomes For TiO2, Cobalt & DPTA

  • 22 July 2019
    Draft Amendment To "Poison Centre" Regulations

  • 22 July 2019
    Possible Annex VIII to CLP Extension?

  • 29 June 2019
    Workability Issues: Notification to Poison Centres

  • 24 June 2019
    Eurotunnel publishes 2019 guidance

  • 24 April 2019
    HSE Consultation on revision of Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) for a range of carcinogens

  • 28 March 2019
    Poison Centre Guidance Document Published

  • 22 March 2019
    Poison Centre Guidance Document Published

  • 23 January 2019
    Links To Guidance & Legislation Recently Laid Before Parliament

  • 23 January 2019
    RPA Seeks Input From Companies In Chemicals Supply Chain To Assess Impacts Of Brexit

  • 11 January 2019
    Preparing For A Potential 'No-Deal' Brexit

    CHCS Members can read these News items, and older posts, on the CHCS News Briefings page.

    Next 3 CHCS Training Courses:

    For a full list of our CHCS Training Courses, please visit our Training page. 


    • Other events are in preparation. Please visit again soon.


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