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Things to Consider When Shipping Dangerous Goods Internationally

Shipping with DHL

Things to Consider When Shipping Dangerous Goods Internationally

There are 9 classes of dangerous goods (DG), each comprising of unique characteristics and features. Dangerous goods are susceptible to volatility and pose destructive risks when not handled correctly. Shipping dangerous goods cargo internationally has its own set of complications – complying with regulations and restrictions is everyone’s responsibility to uphold safe practices.

explosive tooltip

EXPLOSIVES 1. Explosives Substances that explodes, or can trigger explosive devices. e.g. fireworks, dynamite, detonators, ammunition *DHL Express does not carry Class 1

flammable gas
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FLAMMABLE GAS 2.1. Flammable Gases Gases that may ignite or burn instantly. e.g. Aerosol, fire extinguishers, gas lighters, camping gas 2.2. Non-Flammable and Non-Toxic Gas Gases that do not ignite and are not toxic although have the ability to remove oxygen from the air. These can be transported under pressure or as refrigerated liquefied gas. e.g. Hairspray, helium, oxygen 2.3. Toxic Gases Gases that have toxic or corrosive effects on humans and animals. e.g. Teargas, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide *DHL Express does not carry Class 2.3

flammable liquids
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FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS 3. Flammable Liquids Liquids that at a temperature of <60°C emit flammable gases. e.g. Gasoline, oil-based paints, perfume, aftershave

flammable solids
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FLAMMABLE SOLIDS 4.1. Flammable Solids Solids that may either combust during transportation, or cause/contribute to a fire. e.g. Matches, camphor, waste rubber 4.2. Spontaneously Combustible Solids Substances liable to spontaneous combustion, or substances liable to spontaneous heating that makes them likely to catch fire. e.g. Hafnium, phosphorus 4.3. Dangerous When Wet Substances that when wet are liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable gases in dangerous quantities. e.g. Trichlorosilane, rubidium, alkali-metal alloy, lithium

oxidising substances
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OXIDISING SUBSTANCES 5.1. Oxidising Substances Substances that may give off oxygen, and therefore cause or contribute to the combustion of another material. e.g. Oxygen generators, zinc chlorate, potassium chlorate 5.2 Organic Peroxides Substances, that can quickly, decompose explosively, cause injuries to the eyes or react dangerously with other substances. e.g. Fertilizers, drain cleaners, toolkits with hardeners

toxic substances
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TOXIC SUBSTANCES 6.1. Toxic Substances Substances that may cause death, injury or harm to humans of swallowed, inhaled or contacted by the skin. e.g. Cyanide, rat poison, herbicides, insecticide 6.2. Infectious Substances Substances known, or expected, to contain pathogens that can cause disease in humans or animals. e.g. Viruses, infectious diagnostic specimens, blood samples *DHL Express does not carry Class 6.2

radioactive material
radioactive material tooltip

RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL 7. Radioactive Material Substances that spontaneously and continuously emit radiation that can be harmful to health of humans or animals, and that can affect photographic film or X-ray film. *DHL Express does not carry Class 7 e.g. X-ray machines, some fire and smoke alarms

corrosive substances
corrosive substances tooltip

CORROSIVE SUBSTANCES 8. Corrosive Substances Substances that can cause severe damage when in contact with living tissue (e.g. skin) and other materials including metal. e.g. Sulfuric acid, mercury, hydrochloric acid and various other acids

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MISCELLANEOUS 9. Miscellaneous Substances that do not meet the criteria of the other eight Classes of Dangerous Goods but are considered as dangerous for transport. e.g. Asbestos, dry ice, magnetic material, consumer goods, self-inflatable rescue equipment like vests and airbag.

NOTE: This article should not be taken as the final DG instructions when shipping with DHL Express, it is best to check with your account manager or our customer service team prior to shipping.


The very first, and possibly most important requisite to ship DG cargo is to have your account approved by DHL Express. First of all, you should communicate with your account manager on your shipping requirements. When you present a valid case for shipping DG cargo, DHL Express will send our in-house DG expert to your premises to inspect your eligibility to become an approved shipper. Here are some things that we look out for.


When you are shipping UN3733 (biological substances), UN1845 (dried ice), DG in Excepted Quantities (EQ) and Class 9 DG cargo (with the exception of Lithium Batteries Section II), you must have at least one staff on-site that is DG certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This means the staff has completed and maintained his or her valid DG certification. Learn more about IATA’s DG course.


Each item is unique, and as a shipper, you should have the best solution to pack each DG item safely. Prior to approval, we will inspect the security and integrity of each shipment’s packaging and if they can withstand air transportation. For example, we accept certain flammable liquids, however, they have to be packed to ensure that there is absolutely no spillage. If there is a spillage, there should be a contingency within the packing, where it will not affect other shipments or the airplane.


Fully regulated DG goods under Class 9 and ID8000 (consumer commodities) has to be correctly labelled, clearly indicating the DG type and potential hazards. This should be in line and up to date with IATA standards. Each shipment should also be accompanied by a dangerous goods declaration (DGD) – a supporting document on top of the AWB and shipping invoice that provides a clear description of the DG commodity being transported.

Read further about dangerous goods declaration (DGD) here.


Upon inspection, we will review the item to be shipped as DG and approval will warrant eligibility to ship the item as it was agreed upon. Alterations to the product or shipping more than what was agreed will raise a red flag when it is being processed in our system. For this reason, you must adhere to the agreed shipping guidelines and clearly indicate the quantity of the contents.


Although it is clearly indicated which DG classes DHL Express can accept, it is crucial to understand that different destination countries have different regulations for importing dangerous goods. Therefore, prior to granting approval, we will check which countries you deal with most frequently. On the same note, prior to arranging a DG shipment to a country you are unfamiliar with, you should check with your account manager or our customer service team on DHL Express’s capabilities.


In many cases, you may be shipping a non-DG cargo, but due to the nature of the contents, we might classify it as a DG shipment, and if you are not an approved shipper, we will either return, reject, or request for an MSDS – a document that proves your shipment does not fall under a DG category. For example, you may be shipping hand sanitizer without any alcohol content. Therefore, it does not fall in any DG category because the absence of alcohol makes it non-flammable. The purpose of the MSDS is to give the technical breakdown of your item.


How DHL Express Can Help you with your clinical trial logistics?


Apart from having an in-house team of specialists deployed in almost every country we operate in, DHL Express has the resources and experience to handle all sorts of dangerous cargo. One of our many commitments as a first- class logistics service is that we ensure all shipments that we carry are fully compliant with international, regional and country regulations. 

When you choose DHL Express to import or export your DG cargo, you can be rest assured that it will be handled by a dedicated team of international professionals from start to finish.


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