Hazardous goods documentation: what you need to know
Updated: Sep 2
Shipments that contain hazardous/dangerous goods require special documents which provide specific details about the commodity being shipped.
The two most important documents for hazardous shipments are the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS/SDS) and the Dangerous Goods Declaration (DG declaration).
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS/SDS):
The MSDS/SDS is a document which is produced by the manufacturer and contains the full shipping information of a dangerous good. All data regarding the commodity's composition, hazard level, packaging, transportation instructions, emergency procedures and more are listed in the MSDS.
The MSDS/SDS must be provided to the carrier in advance for review to determine if the good will be accepted. If the good is accepted for transport, the MSDS/SDS details how to safely package, load and store the cargo for export.
Dangerous Goods Declarations (DG declaration):
The DG declaration is a shipping document that certifies a dangerous good is classified, packaged and labeled in compliance with the International Maritime Organization's regulations (IMO).
The international shipper exporting the dangerous good is responsible for supplying the freight forwarder/carrier with the DG declaration. All the necessary information required to produce a DG declaration can be found within the commodity's MSDS/SDS.
Not complying with IMO regulations places the lives of others directly at risk and bears severe penalties. Failure to comply with dangerous good regulations will subject shippers to tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines and even jail time.
Thus, it is important that those involved in shipping hazardous materials complete the appropriate training and consult professionals to ensure compliance is met.
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