How to Ship Hazardous Materials: A Guide to Hazmat Shipping

Hazmat transportation is known to be shaped by numerous regulations and restrictions. Still, dangerous goods embrace a lot of ordinary products frequently purchased by customers. That is why hazmat shipping can be beneficial for your business.

What are hazardous materials?

Hazardous materials include many products that are potentially dangerous for transporting. Most of the hazmat items contain chemical substances or gases that can be harmful to both people and the environment. Dangerous goods require special handling, packaging, and storage, as well as shipping them under numerous regulations. It is highly important to get familiar with the features of hazardous materials to plan your shipping operations properly.

Types of hazmat products

Depending on the level of harmfulness, the hazardous matters are divided into nine groups. These classes are ranged from the most dangerous items to those being relatively unsafe for shipping. Still, all the types of hazmat products need to be examined before arranging a shipment.

  • Explosives are the materials likely to explode under adverse conditions (fireworks, matters including dynamite components)
  • Gases are usually transported compressed to prevent them from being inhaled or surfaced (aerosols, lighters, cosmetic sprays)
  • Flammable liquids are the substances that inflame when contacting fire (adhesives, oil-based chemicals, gasoline, perfumes)
  • Flammable solids get easily consumed by fire due to their chemical composition (matches, coal, sulfur contents)
  • Oxidizers are types of hazmats that ignite because of contacting oxygen (chlorines, bleaches, fertilizers)
  • Toxic substances include chemicals or virus bacterias that cause serious injuries (pesticides, biomedical waste)
  • Radioactive matters are prone to giving off harmful doses of radiation (specific medicines, X-ray equipment)
  • Corrosives rapidly destroy steel objects and human skin (different kinds of acid cleaners, paints strippers)
  • Miscellaneous hazmats involve other potentially dangerous items that need careful transporting (batteries, vehicle parts, etc.)

Hazmat shipping regulations

All the types of hazmat products undergo strict policies when it comes to shipping. Several major institutions regulate shipping hazardous materials:

U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Code of Federal Regulations (title 49) controls the domestic hazmat shipping operations. It represents a set of requirements for packing, labeling, and handling dangerous goods. If you are planning to ship hazardous materials within the country, it is recommended to learn the key points of state rules for hazmat transportation.


International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) includes regulations for international shipping of hazardous materials by water transport means.


International Civil Aviation Organization is a governmental institution that supervises transporting hazardous goods by air. The International Air Transport Association covers commercial hazmat delivery via private airlines.

How to ship hazardous goods

Shipping hazardous products can seem challenging due to the high number of rules. However, suitable preparation and conventional planning can streamline your hazmat transportation.

Classifying and documentation

The state regulations require shippers and retailers to properly classify hazmat items and gather all the necessary documentation. The characteristics of hazmat types define the way you would ship them. First, you need to make sure which class of hazardous goods your products belong to. To accurately classify the items, you may turn to the official DOT website to get more data on hazmat features.

Second, start preparing all the demanded documentation in advance. The safety data sheet (SDS) is one of the most important hazmat shipping documents since it includes all the products’ details and handling recommendations. You also need to obtain the paperwork that lists your items’ identification number, shipping name, shipper’s certification, as well as the description of the product quantity and packaging type.

Packaging and labeling

Packaging requirements for hazardous products vary depending on their type and specifics. Start preparing your items by determining their packing group:

  • Packing group I (products of great danger)
  • Packing group II (products of medium danger)
  • Packing group III (products of minor danger)

The packing group defines the materials you would use to safely ship hazardous goods. Make sure not to pack dangerous matters into repositories made of incompatible materials that can potentially cause chemical reactions. Typically, hazardous liquids and some types of solids are shipped in drums, while other hazmats can be condensed into bulk containers or special crates. Hazmat packaging requirements are fixated in the number of official instructions.

Proper labeling of your hazardous goods is compulsory and needs close attention to detail. There is a huge variety of hazmat labels that mark basic characteristics of the product and handling guidelines (i.e. keeping away from heat, inhalation hazard, etc.). You can learn more about hazmat labeling in the detailed labeling index.

Choosing a reliable carrier

The right carrier choice is one of the key points of successful hazmat transportation. It is principal to cooperate with experienced carriers who are familiar with the specifics of shipping dangerous goods. Several major carriers (FedEx, USPS, UPS, DHL) offer hazmat shipping services depending on your product’s type. At GoShip, we can connect you to a wide network of certified carriers that will deliver your hazardous materials safely and on time.