Things to Consider When Shipping Dangerous Goods Internationally

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When shipping dangerous goods (DG) to or out of Singapore, it is essential to take into account a wide range of factors in order to ensure the safety and compliance of the shipment. 

The transportation of hazardous materials is subject to a complex web of regulations and guidelines, which vary depending on the nature of the dangerous goods, the mode of transport, and the countries involved. 

There are nine classes of dangerous goods, each consisting of unique characteristics and features that are susceptible to volatility and pose destructive risks when not handled correctly. Shipping dangerous goods 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 explode, 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
flammable solids tooltip

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
oxidising substances tooltip

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
toxic substances 2

TOXIC SUBSTANCES 6.1. Toxic Substances Substances that may cause death, injury or harm to humans when swallowed, inhaled or in contact with 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 the health of humans or animals, and that can affect photographic film or X-ray film. e.g. X-ray machines, some fire and smoke alarms *DHL Express does not carry Class 7

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

miscellaneous tooltip

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 airbags.

NOTE: This article should not be taken as the final DG instructions when shipping internationally with DHL Express. It is best to check with your account manager or our customer service team prior to shipping. Create a DHL Express account for streamlined customer service 24/7, so you’re always guided when you need help.


So how to ship flammable solids, liquids or gas? The most important requisite to ship dangerous goods is to have your account approved by DHL Express. First of all, you should communicate with your account manager on your shipping requirements. 

After a valid case is presented for shipping DG cargo to or out of Singapore, DHL Express will send our in-house DG expert to your premises to inspect your eligibility to become an approved shipper.

Here are five things that we look out for.


If 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.


Each item is unique, and as a shipper, you should have the best solution to pack each dangerous good safely before shipping it to or out of Singapore. 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 ship 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) have 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 must also be accompanied by a dangerous goods declaration (DGD), a supporting document on top of the Air Waybill and an accurate shipping invoice that provides a clear description of the DG commodity being transported.

Read more about dangerous goods declaration (DGD).


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 DG shipping guidelines and clearly indicate the quantity of the contents.


Although we have already indicated which DG classes DHL Express can accept, it is crucial to understand that different destination countries have different regulations for importing or exporting dangerous goods. In Singapore, for example, the recommended timings for transportation of dangerous goods on roads are between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Saturday. No transportation is allowed on Sundays and public holidays.

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 non-DG cargo. However, due to the nature of the contents, we might classify it as a dangerous goods shipment. If you are not an approved shipper, we will either return, reject, or request for a Material Safety Data Sheet, a document that proves your shipment does not fall under a DG category. 

For example, you may be shipping hand sanitiser 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.


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  • Dedicated DG shipping experts 

  • Seamless pick-up and delivery process

  • Strict adherence to rules and regulations

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

Dedicated DG shipping experts 

If you have any doubts or confusion about what dangerous goodsyou can or cannot ship, our in-house team is available to offer guidance and support. The experts at DHL Express are knowledgeable about the local customs regulations in every country, ensuring that your packages are handled properly and carefully. 

Seamless pick-up and delivery process

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. With DHL Express’s seamless operational process, customers can take advantage of various end-to-end services for international dangerous goods delivery. 

Strict adherence to rules and regulations

DHL Express is committed to providing the highest level of safety and security when it comes to dealing with hazardous items, maintaining adherence to all relevant rules and regulations. 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. 

Get your dangerous goods shipped safely from Singapore today by registering for a DHL Express business account now.


1. What are considered dangerous goods when shipping? 

Dangerous goods, also known as hazardous materials, are items or substances that are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety, property, or the environment if not handled, transported, and stored properly. Some dangerous goods in shipping include explosives, flammable and combustible liquids, radioactive materials, and corrosives.

Shipping companies like DHL Express must follow strict regulations and guidelines when transporting dangerous goods to ensure the safety of employees, customers, and the public.

2. What are the three most common types of packing used in shipping dangerous goods?

Dangerous goods can only be shipped in packings which have the UN marking:

  • Substances of packing group I (high danger): Must be in packaging with the UN-X marking

  • Substances of packing group II (medium danger): Must be in packaging with the UN-Y marking

  • Substances of packing group III (low danger): Must be in packaging with the UN-Z marking

3. Is there a DG surcharge for shipping dangerous goods by DHL Express? 

DHL Express can carry acceptable quantities of dangerous goods or hazardous materials. Packages containing dangerous goods materials will be assessed, and a service charge will be applied accordingly. Other additional charges may also apply.