Before you can ship dangerous goods by air, you need to properly complete the required transport documents: the air waybill and the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods.
The main purpose of the Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD) is for the shipper to provide critical information to the aircraft operator or carrier in a format that is consistent throughout the transportation industry. This standard is part of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).
Section 8 of the IATA-DGR begins with the statement: “A Shipper’s Declaration must be completed by the shipper for each consignment of dangerous goods.”
There are nine materials that have a low risk and are excepted from this requirement:
- UN 3164, Articles, pressurized, hydraulic
- UN 3164, Articles, pressurized, pneumatic
- UN 3373, Biological substance, Category B
- UN 1845, Carbon dioxide, solid (dry ice) when used as a refrigerant for other than dangerous goods
- Dangerous goods in excepted quantities
- UN 3245, Genetically modified organisms and genetically modified microorganisms
- Lithium ion or lithium metal cells or batteries meeting the provisions of Section II of Packing Instructions 965–970
- UN 2807, Magnetized material
- Radioactive material, excepted packages
For each consignment of dangerous goods as defined and regulated by the DGR, the shipper is required to:
- Use only the correct form in the correct manner.
- Ensure the information is accurate, easy to identify, legible and durable.
- Ensure that the shipment has been prepared in accordance with the DGR.
These requirements are essentially what the dangerous goods shipper is declaring when they complete the IATA Dangerous Goods form and what appears in bold type in the bottom left-hand corner of the form:
I hereby declare that the contents of this consignment are fully and accurately described above by the proper shipping name, and are classified, packaged, marked, labelled/placarded, and are in all respects in proper condition for transport according to applicable international and national government regulations. I declare that all of the applicable air transport requirements have been met.
The Dangerous Goods Declaration must be signed and dated by the shipper. Other persons employed to act on behalf of the shipper such as consolidators, freight forwarders and cargo agents may sign the DGD on behalf of the shipper.
Even though the IATA specifies retention of the transport documents for a minimum of three months, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires 24 months. Electronic versions may be used if they can be reproduced in printed form.
Completing the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods
The following information should be included on the top half of the IATA Dangerous Goods form:
- Shipper—Full name and address of the shipper.
- Air Waybill Number—The number of the air waybill (AWB) to which the declaration form will be attached. This number may be left blank and completed by the shipper’s agent or airline.
- Page of Pages—The page number and the total number of pages. For example, a single page will read “Page 1 of 1.”
- Shipper’s Reference Number—Optional field providing the shipper with an opportunity to enter an internal organization reference number.
- Consignee—Full name and address of consignee.
- Transport Details—Specifies if there are aircraft limitations. The shipper indicates if the consignment complies with the limitations for passenger and cargo aircraft, or if the consignment is limited to cargo aircraft only. Passenger aircraft limits are more restrictive. The shipper must strike out the box that doesn’t apply.
- Airport of Departure—Enter the full name of the airport or city of departure. The three-letter airport code is not acceptable. This information can be left blank and completed by the agent or airline.
- Airport of Destination—Enter the full name of the airport or city of destination. The three-letter airport code is not acceptable. This information can be left blank and completed by the agent or airline.
- Shipment Type—Non-Radioactive/Radioactive. The shipper must strike out the box that doesn’t apply.
Two IATA Dangerous Goods Declaration Formats
There are two acceptable IATA Dangerous Goods Declaration formats—one that lists the product information in columns and one that uses a non-columnar or open format. You’ll find a sample columnar form here and a non-columnar form here.
The open format of the IATA-DGD form lacks the defined columns. Instead, the open format requires the shipper to enter the four sections of information listed below using a double hash mark (“//”) to separate each section.
Regardless of which format you use, the remaining information on the DGD is the same; it’s just formatted slightly differently.
Nature and Quantity of Dangerous Goods
The Nature and Quantity of Dangerous Goods box on the form is broken down into four sections. This is important for explaining the required information and how it is presented. (Radioactive shipments require more specific details and aren’t covered here.)
Section One: Identification
The first section includes four pieces of information that identify the article or substance being shipped. The identification or basic description is standardized globally by the way it is formatted. This format provides emergency responders the immediate information they need to react appropriately in case of an emergency.
This section starts with the UN or ID number from Column A in Section 4.2 of the DG list. All entries begin with UN with one exception: consumer commodities, which is ID 8000.
The second part is the proper shipping name found in Column B of Section 4.2 of the DG list. Some entries may require the shipper to add the technical name of the product in parenthesis after the proper shipping name. This requirement is indicated by a star.
The third part of this section is the class or division of material followed by any possible subsidiary risk from Column C of Section 4.2.
Part four, when assigned, is the packing group. There are three packing groups that indicate the degree of danger and are indicated in Roman numerals I, II or III. Not all goods have packing groups.
All of the information in this section must be in the correct order with no other unrelated information interspersed. For example, an entry may look like: UN1993, Flammable liquid, n.o.s. (Acetone solution) 3, III.
Section Two: Quantity and Type of Packing
From my experience, this is where most shippers have problems.
Start with the total number of packages of the same type and content and then the type of packaging. You can enter the name of the packaging used or enter the UN codes for the type of packaging and the material of construction. There are no requirements to indicate the number of inner packages.
Referring to the maximum net quantity indicated in Columns H, J or L in Section 4.2 of the DGR, enter the net quantity, abbreviated or in full, in each package in weight or volume or, when applicable, the gross weight. You must enter this information for each item in your shipment bearing a different proper shipping name, UN/ID number, or packaging group.
When you have used an overpack, you must include the words “Overpack Used” immediately after all the entries related to packages within the overpack. These packages are always listed first on the IATA DG form. Multiple overpacks with identical contents are identified as “Overpacks Used x (the number of identical overpacks).” Multiple overpacks with different contents must be identified separately.
There may be other details that you may be required to enter here, but which can’t be covered in an article like this and require DG training. This includes the specific format required for “explosives” entries and “no-limit” entries; and “all packed in one” entries and their corresponding Q values.
Section Three: Packing Instruction
Enter the applicable packing instruction.
When shipping dangerous goods by air, there are a variety of packing requirements. These are specified in Section 5 of the DGR.
Each entry in the list may have three choices with specific packing instructions to follow. These packaging instructions all have three numbers and start with the class number. They are: limited quantities (which start with the letter Y), passenger and cargo aircraft and cargo aircraft only.
Even though the list in DGR Section 4.2 provides the maximum package net weight or volumes, it is important that the shipper consult these packing instruction details in Section 5 since they will provide the specific requirements depending on the packaging selected or permitted.
Section Four: Authorizations
Certain entries can only be transported by air based on special provisions usually mandated by competent authorities. The DOT is the competent authority in the U.S. These special provisions include quantity limitations, packaging requirements, aircraft type and any other relevant information. The special provision number that includes a prefix of the letter A must be entered here.
Additional Handling Information
Enter any specific handling information relevant to the consignment.
The emergency response telephone number for shipments to, through or from the U.S. must be entered here. The telephone number is not required for limited quantities.
For infectious substances, the name and telephone number of a responsible person must be included.
For self-reactive substances and organic peroxides, the shipper must indicate that the packages containing these substances must be protected from direct sunlight and stored away from all heat sources in a well-ventilated area.
Name of Signatory
Finally, the bottom section of the DGD requires a signature with:
- The name of the person signing, which is mandatory and must be printed. The person’s title is optional.
- The place of signing the DGD is also optional and may be left blank.
- The date can be written out in full or in any of the following formats: DD/MM/YYYY, DD.MM.YYYY, or DD/MMM/YYYY.
Training Is Required
Proper training is required under federal and/or state regulations to handle dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials. (To understand the distinction, read the article Hazardous Materials or Dangerous Goods?) This ensures that everyone who directly affects the safety of a shipment is knowledgeable in all the specific job-related functions that may directly apply to them such as identification, classification, packaging, marking, labeling/placarding and completing the appropriate shipping papers such as the IATA-DGD.
You’ll find an explanation of the different types of hazmat training options that are available in the article Training Employees Ensures Compliance with Hazmat Shipping Regulations.
The Easy Way to Complete Dangerous Goods Forms
Shipping Solutions Professional export documentation and compliance software is the easy way to complete your IATA and IMO Dangerous Goods forms. If you already know all the dangerous goods-related information for your products, you can store them in the Shipping Solutions Product Database so the information automatically fills in when you select your products.
If you don’t yet know the dangerous goods information for your products, Shipping Solutions Professional includes the IATA database of dangerous goods, so you can use the software to find the appropriate information and then complete the dangerous goods forms.
The following video shows how to store your products' DG information in the Shipping Solutions database, how to create the documents on the EZ Start screen, and all the options for printing the documents.