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Freight Shipping Hazardous Material Table: Freight Tools

Read all about shipping hazardous materials & dangerous goods – regulations, documentation, and more.

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Delve into a comprehensive understanding of the nine Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) classes in the United States to gain crucial insights into how they impact your freight and shipping requirements. By clicking on any symbol in our Hazardous Materials Table, you can unlock a wealth of information that illuminates the nature of each class and its specific implications for transportation.

Classifying hazardous materials is vital for ensuring the safety of both transportation personnel and the general public. From Class 1, encompassing explosive materials, to Class 9, which includes miscellaneous hazardous substances, each class is characterized by distinct properties that influence handling, packaging, and transportation protocols.

Whether you are a shipper, carrier, or involved in the logistics of hazardous materials, a nuanced understanding of these classes is indispensable for navigating the intricacies of transporting potentially dangerous goods. Click on any symbol in our Hazardous Materials Table to embark on a journey of knowledge that ensures the safe and efficient movement of hazardous materials through the transportation network.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods FAQs

What are “dangerous goods”?

“Dangerous goods” are defined as any solids, liquids, or gases with hazardous susceptibilities that can cause harm to living things, property, or the environment. In the US, UK, and Canada, these goods are referred to as hazardous materials or HAZMAT. Dangerous goods can include materials that are radioactive, flammable, toxic, explosive, and those of similar characterizations.

How are hazardous materials classified for freight shipping?

There are nine overarching classes of hazardous materials, most of which are then further divided into multiple subcategories. Each hazard class is assigned its own diamond shaped label to communicate the hazard and class number. Hazard classifications are also known as hazard identifiers.

Scroll through the above Hazardous Materials Table to explore each of the nine HAZMAT classes more thoroughly.

What are some examples of common hazardous materials?

The Hazardous Materials Table breaks down some commonly transported dangerous goods according to HAZMAT classes. Some items of cargo not flightworthy, or at least partially restricted, but are permitted on ships. Some additional commonly overlooked hazardous materials include:

  • Camping gear/ equipment (signal flares, heat producing packets, cooking stoves)
  • Cosmetics and perfumes
  • Frozen food
  • Biological materials
  • Certain battery-powered equipment
  • Small gas cylinders and aerosols
  • Toolbox items (propane torches, touch up paint, adhesives, urethanes, epoxies)
  • Equipment containing radioactive sources
  • Breathing apparatus & diving equipment
  • Dry ice (for air shipments)
  • Household goods (paints, bleaches, spray cans)
  • Laboratory/testing equipment
  • Refrigeration equipment & mercury switches
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Magnetized material (by air)

How is the transportation of hazardous materials regulated?

The transport of dangerous goods needs to be regulated in order to avoid accidents and damage when possible. Most countries regulate hazardous materials by federal and international law, but classifications may vary by country, mode of transport, and type of goods.

In order to unify international classification systems and facilitate the transportation of dangerous goods, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) issues the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, which serve as the basis for most regulatory policies monitoring the transportation of dangerous goods. Those standards have been adopted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the specifications of air freight, and by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for ocean freight. IMO member countries also abide by the HNS Convention, which offers compensation for spills of dangerous goods in the sea.

What documentation is required for the transport of hazardous materials?

There is a certain amount of specific freight documentation required for shipping hazardous materials and dangerous goods. First of all, a detailed description of the goods must be provided on the freight quote, commercial invoice, bill of lading, shipment packing list, and all other relevant shipping documents. The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction needs to detail how to handle the goods, and should include emergency contact information.

In addition, the shipper needs to provide a special declaration called a Material Data Safety Sheet, which identifies and details the following:

  • Product identification (name, use, etc.)
  • Physical data about the goods
  • Hazardous ingredients included in the goods
  • Fire and explosion data
  • Reactivity Data

IATA and IMO both provide standard formats of HAZMAT shipping papers for air freight and ocean freight, respectively.

How do I ship hazardous materials?

As described, the process for shipping hazardous materials is somewhat extensive, requires the described precise documentation, and can be a dangerous undertaking. If you are planning on shipping hazardous materials, prepare to follow these steps:

  1. Work with your factory/supplier to identify and classify your dangerous goods.
  2. Determine with a freight forwarder which transportation methods will accept your goods, and which hazmat regulations apply. Together make sure you’ve met any application and qualification process required for hazmat shipments.
  3. Work with your factory/supplier to package your goods properly. There are three packing groups that determine the degree of protection required for dangerous goods during transport:
    • Group I: Greatest danger, most protective packaging required.
    • Group II: Medium danger.
    • Group III: Least danger, least protective packaging required.
  4. Document everything. See the previous question for a more detailed list of required documentation.
  5. Work with your factory/supplier to mark and label everything properly:
    • Placard with designated classification.
    • Four-digit UN number.

If you’re looking for a freight forwarder or shipping company that specializes in hazardous materials, connect with us through the Freightos Marketplace for more information.


Check out more free freight tools such as our Transit Time Calculator for freight shipping times, Freight Rate Calculator for instant freight rates, and HS Code Lookup to find six-digit Harmonized Codes for international shipping.

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