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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: 

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


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CHCS October 2019 Newsletter Now Published
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Model Regulations, 21st Revised Edition The United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Model Regulations, 21st Revised edition is now available in English and French. CHCS Members can read more on the page. CHCS News Briefings  [Posted on 21 October 2019]

IATA Publishes Significant Changes To The 61st Edition Of The Dangerous Goods Regulations  
CHCS Members can read more on the CHCS News Briefings page.   [Posted on 20 October 2019]

CHCS & SCHC Sign New MoU
We are delighted to have signed a new MoU with the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication, outlining the relationship between both Societies and the benefits to members of both. For more information visit our SCHC web page [Posted on 18 October 2019]

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We are delighted to publish our draft program for the event, including speakers and presentation titles. 

There is still plenty of time to register for the event, which takes place on 20 November at Hilton Hotel, NEC, Birmingham. Free of charge for CHCS members. 

To find out more, download the flier or reserve your place please visit the CHCS 25th AGM event page [Posted on 8 October 2019]

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A consultation has been opened on the draft amendment to Annex II of REACH. The draft has also been notified to the World Trade Organisation – G/TBT/N/EU/680.  

CHCS Members can read more on the CHCS News Briefings page.  [Posted on 1 October 2019]

Webinar Series: "Introduction to Chemical Management in Latin America"
Our colleagues in the US-based Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC), have developed a series of webinars, each covering a different country. CHCS members can register at SCHC-member prices. For more details, see our SCHC web page.  
[Posted on 25 September 2019]

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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
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    Poison Centre First Deadline To Be Postponed

  • 23 September 2019
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  • 22 July 2019
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  • 22 July 2019
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  • 29 June 2019
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  • 24 June 2019
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  • 24 April 2019
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  • 28 March 2019
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  • 22 March 2019
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  • 23 January 2019
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  • 23 January 2019
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  • 11 January 2019
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    CHCS Members can read these News items, and older posts, on the CHCS News Briefings page.

    9  July 2018 - CHCS Needs Your Help!

    CHCS has a number of vacancies on our committees and are looking for volunteers to fill them. For more information please see: CHCS Vacancies.

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