The US Department of Transportation (US DOT) regulates the transportation in commerce of hazardous materials within the US. Its authority does not extend beyond our borders however and so the transportation of hazardous materials (referred to as dangerous goods in international regulations) outside US borders are subject to international standards and regulations. At 49 CFR 171.22 the US DOT authorizes the use of international standards & regulations (with certain conditions) in lieu of compliance with the US DOT’s domestic regulations when shipping hazardous materials/dangerous goods either internationally and/or domestically. The US DOT has reciprocal treaty agreements with four regulatory agencies and therefore authorizes the use of the following standards & regulations:
- The International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Technical Instructions).
- The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).
- Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (Transport Canada TDG Regulations).
- The International Atomic Energy Agency Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material (IAEA Regulations).
The transportation of a hazardous material/dangerous good in compliance with the standards & regulations of an international agency – even one authorized by the US DOT – is not enough, you must also comply with applicable DOT regulations (those conditions mentioned earlier). These requirements are found at §171.22(b-g) as follows:
- HazMat/dangerous good shipment must be transported in compliance with the applicable international standards & regulations. Therefore the US DOT has the authority to enforce the international standards & regulations when used in domestic transportation the same as they enforce the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of 49 CFR.
- HazMat/dangerous good shipment must also comply with these regulations: 49 CFR 171, Subpart C – Authorization and Requirements for the Use of International Transport Standards and Regulations.
- If a material is designated as a hazardous material by the US DOT but is not recognized as a dangerous good by international standards & regulations it cannot be transported as a non-hazardous material within the US.
- Conversely if a material is not regulated as a hazardous material by the US DOT but is regulated as a dangerous good by international standards & regulations, it may be transported as a dangerous good within the US in full compliance with the applicable international standard or regulation.
- If a material or package is forbidden to be transported within the US by the US DOT, then it may not be transported within the US even if allowed by international standards & regulations.
- Except for transportation by highway or rail between the US and Canada pursuant to §171.12, importers of hazardous materials into the US must provide specified information to the forwarding agent at the place of entry into the US.
- For imports, the shipper’s certification required by §172.204 must be provided to the initial US carrier by the shipper. A US carrier may not accept a hazardous material shipment without a shipper’s certification unless the certification is not required by US DOT regulations.
- Shipping paper and package markings must be in English. However, you may use both English and another language if required by the regulations of a foreign entity.
- Shippers and carriers must retain copies of shipping papers as required at §172.201(e).
- Additional requirements for all shipments of HazMat within the US:
- Emergency response information required by Subpart G of part 172.
- Train and test HazMat Employees per 49 CFR 172, Subpart H.
- HazMat security requirements of §172, Subpart I.
- HazMat incident reporting requirements of §171.15-16. Includes:
- On board vessels in the navigable waters of the US.
- Aboard aircraft of US registry anywhere in air commerce.
- For export shipments:
- General packaging requirements of §173.24 & §173.24(a).
- The requirements for the reuse, reconditioning, and remanufacture of packagings in §173.28.
- The registration requirements of §107, Subpart G.
49 CFR 171.23 contains requirements for shipments of specific materials shipped under international regulations within the US:
- Air bag inflators
- Chemical oxygen generators
- Class 1 Explosives
- Hazardous substances
- Hazardous wastes
- Marine pollutants
- Organic peroxides
- Poisonous by inhalation materials
- Class 7 Radioactive
- Self-reactive materials
49 CFR 171.24, 25, & 26 contain additional requirements when using the ICAO Technical Instructions, IMDG Code, and the IAEA Regulations, respectively.
To sum up: the US DOT allows the transportation of hazardous materials – even entirely within the US – in compliance with international standards & regulations in lieu of 49 CFR. However, you are still required to comply with the applicable requirements of the US DOT for the hazardous materials shipment. And, if you follow international standards and regulations for your shipment of HazMat, the US DOT remains the enforcement agency in US Territory for determining compliance.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room that has yet to be mentioned – and indeed is not mentioned anywhere in the HMR – is the Dangerous Goods Regulations of IATA: The International Air Transportation Association. IATA is a creation of the airline industry, is based on the ICAO Technical Instructions, and is not authorized for use by the US DOT. However, since it is based on the ICAO Technical Instructions and they are authorized by US DOT, compliance with IATA – and the regulations of this Subpart – will ensure compliance with the HMR. More on IATA in future article.
I can provide training to comply with the HMR of the US DOT and the Dangerous Goods Regulations of IATA. Contact me for a free consultation of your training needs.