Certification process of dangerous goods packaging explained


The most feasible way to select dangerous goods packaging is to choose packaging that has already been certified, which means it is approved for the product you’re shipping.

Why must dangerous goods packaging be certified?

Dangerous goods packaging has to be certified because it has to comply with UN dangerous goods packaging regulations. Organizations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) have examined and adjusted their restrictions on transport and packaging thoroughly after an increasing amount of incidents that occurred with lithium-ion batteries, for instance.

For you as a dangerous goods producer, this means that the tolerance for damage claims is zero. As commanding as this may sound, you and your organisation are responsible for safe and compliant shipping of your goods, which includes using certified packaging. 

Certification process of dangerous goods packaging explained

The strict UN regulations require packaging to be certified by a national competent authority. The competent authority differs per country. In the UK, for instance, the competent authority is the Secretary of State for Transport. Took at look at this list of UK test laboratories authorised (by the Secretary of State for Transport) to test UN packaging.

The certification process by the competent authority involves testing the packaging against the appropriate UN specifications to ensure its suitability for the carriage of specific dangerous goods. If a packaging passes the test, it is considered to be suitable for the carriage of a dangerous good — the one it’s been tested for — as long as it is produced with exactly the same specifications. The result is called a design-type.

The competent certification authority issues a UN approval mark for every packaging design-type that has passed testing. As long as the packaging is manufactured serially according to the specifications of the design-type, the packaging is certified and approved for shipments of the specific dangerous good it’s been tested for.

Here’s an example of UN marking and certification:


As you can see, the landscape of dangerous goods packaging is complex to navigate. One area that drives this complexity is the multitude of regulations involved. If you would like to know how you can acquire certified packaging quickly and properly despite the mass of requirements, my next blog post should be worth reading. If you want to get updated when new articles like that next post get published, please subscribe to our blog updates in the top right corner of this page.

Proper dangerous goods packaging in practice

In the meantime, you can read this customer case to see how we helped a customer with organizing the shipment and return of lithium ion batteries (definitely dangerous goods!) to various distribution points on a global level. A main requirement from the customer was to provide them with safe distribution of their replacement batteries, but also the ability to switch the old battery with the replacement and send it back in the same box.

Take a look to see how we reduced this customer's cost of logistics with an efficient and compliant Lithium-ion Battery packaging solution — download the free case here

Download the Lithium-ion Battery customer case

Find out how we reduced our customer's cost of logistics and environmental impact with an optimized and certified Lithium-ion Battery packaging solution