How to Ship Dangerous Goods in the United Arab Emirates

Importing and exporting dangerous goods in the UAE is one of the most significant considerations that every trading company must consider while shipping goods, regardless of the mode of transportation. Being informed of the latest rules and regulations will help you go through the shipping process much easier and faster. If you are curious to get a clue, keep reading to learn what dangerous goods are and what categories they fall into. We will also provide a simple 5-step guide to facilitate shipping such goods in the United Arab Emirates.

A Definition of Dangerous Goods

The term “dangerous goods,” also called “prohibited items,” refers to substances or things having potentially dangerous qualities that, if not adequately managed, pose a risk to the infrastructure, the health and safety of people, and/or their modes of transportation.

Dangerous commodities, often known as hazardous materials, might include pure chemicals, mixes of substances, manufactured goods, or other items that, if improperly used or transported, could endanger humans, animals, or the environment.

List of the 9 Classes of Dangerous Goods

There are nine major categories for shipping dangerous goods:

Class 1: Explosives

Although explosives have the potential to behave violently when adequately triggered, they are made to be pretty stable and insensitive on a typical surface. As long as they are not subjected to a tremendous shock, such as in a high-speed traffic collision, or worse, allowed to grow hot in a fire, they may be safely handled and carried by land and sea. Temperatures as low as 200o can ignite some high explosives. The Class has six divisions as the following:

Class DivisionDescription
Class 1.1Mass Explosion Hazard
Class 1.2Projection Hazard Only
Class 1.3Fire Hazard and Minor Blast or Minor Projection Hazard
Class 1.4Minimal Hazard
Class 1.5Blasting Agents
Class 1.6Very Insensitive Detonating Articles

Class 2: Gases

Gases typically weigh more than air. If they displace or muddle air in small areas, they may suffocate someone.

These consist of argon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, helium, and hydrogen. They must be kept in specialized, highly insulated containers to prevent them from warming up after becoming a liquid. If cold metal, etc., is unintentionally contacted without protection, the extreme cold causes a threat. A very cold gas escape also poses a danger to respiration, endangering the lungs directly or resulting in localized oxygen deprivation.

Apart from the physical risks, gases can pose chemical risks, such as those posed by toxic gases like chlorine and ammonia, as well as combustible gases like butane and acetylene. As a result, the Class has three Divisions:

Class 2.1Flammable Gases
Class 2.2Non-Flammable, Non-Toxic Gases
Class 2.3Toxic Gases

Class 3: Flammable Liquids

Petrol and kerosene are two examples of flammable liquids that come from petroleum. Others, like alcohols, are produced through industrial or natural methods. Highly rigorous restrictions govern the storage and shipping of flammable liquids as dangerous goods. Flammable liquids are organized into three Packing Groups according to boiling point and flash point.

Packing GroupInitial Boiling PointFlashpoint
Packing Group IBoiling Point Below 35º C
Packing Group IIBoiling Point Above 35º CFlashpoint Below 23º C
Packing Group IIIBoiling Point Above 35º CFlashpoint >23º C and <>º C

Class 4: Flammable Solids

More than common combustible materials like wood and paper, flammable solids burn readily. The burning could be intense and quick, producing a lot of heat. Desensitized explosives make up some of the 4.1, such as wet trinitrotoluene (TNT), which would typically fall under Class 1. Some materials are chemically unstable and prone to disintegrating when heated above a particular point, shocked, etc. They might burn vigorously, decompose explosively, or release poisonous fumes or gases.

Products falling under Division 4.2 spontaneously burn when exposed to oxygen. They must be stored either as liquids or in airtight containers beneath an inert gas or liquid blanket. Pyrophoric substances are always classified as belonging to packing group I because they will catch fire if exposed to air for five minutes. Other materials ignite only in enormous quantities and after long periods. Depending on the classification tests, these are in Packing Group II or III.

Products from Division 4.3 react with water to produce combustible gas as a liquid or a vapor. The heat of the reaction has the potential to ignite this. To prevent the entry of moisture or water vapor, they must be stored in hermetically sealed waterproof containers.

Class 4.1General Flammable Solids
Class 4.2Spontaneously Combustible
Class 4.3Dangerous When Wet

Class 5: Oxidizing Substances

Intense heating can make some oxidizers explosive, especially when carbon is present. Ammonium nitrate is a potent explosive frequently employed by terrorists and extractive industries when combined with hydrocarbon oil, such as diesel.

Ammonium nitrate is widely accessible since it is produced in vast amounts worldwide as an agricultural fertilizer to provide additional nitrogen to the crops. Direct nitrate absorption by plants results in nitrogen extraction for protein synthesis.

Organic Peroxides frequently need to be kept in refrigeration, where the temperature must be carefully managed. Otherwise, they will begin to break down quickly if the temperature rises above a particular point specifically to the material, much as the self-reactive materials in Class 4.1, leading to an unregulated progression toward fire or explosion.

Oxidizers can seriously harm the human body, especially the eyes because they are reactive.

Class 5.1Oxidizing Agents
Class 5.2Organic Peroxides

Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Substances

These chemical toxins and infectious substances can wholly or partially harm the human body. They must not be permitted to enter the body through breathing in, ingesting, or skin absorption.

The potency of the toxics ranges from those that can kill in a matter of minutes, like cyanides, to those that could hurt but wouldn’t necessarily kill, provided the dose wasn’t too high, like chlorinated hydrocarbons. Class 6.1 toxics come in solid and liquid forms, but Class 2.3 includes toxic gases.

Products that include pathogens—microorganisms that cause infectious disease in people or animals—are referred to as infectious substances. They are divided into one of three groups based on how harmful it is to move them, with only the first two being so for contagious reasons.

Class 6.1Toxics
Class 6.2Infectious Substances

Class 7: Radioactives

Dangerous goods like radioactive materials contain substances with unstable atoms that spontaneously and randomly alter their structure throughout time.

Each time an atom changes, it generates ionizing radiation, invisible radiation that can alter chemical or biological processes. Depending on the radiation type and the length of exposure, this may cause harm to the human body in one way or another.

Because the packaging serves as a shield, handling and transporting radioactive goods is safe. They won’t pose any health risks like other dangerous goods to those who work in transportation. Nevertheless, the rule is to limit any ionizing radiation exposure to a minimum.

Class 8: Corrosives

These highly reactive materials produce positive chemical effects, resulting in changes in the affected materials. For this reason, corrosives are used extensively in industry to create a wide range of transformations and effects.

Corrosives are classified into packaging groups based on their capacity to destroy intact skin tissue within a specific exposure time, measured in minutes, hours, or days. Note that shipping dangerous goods containing acids and alkalis at sea are subject to tight regulations (IMDG Code).

Class 9: Other Substances and Articles

Class 9 includes chemicals and dangerous goods that provide a risk during transportation that is not addressed by the heading of any other classes.

These goods have characteristics that cannot be classified elsewhere in the UN system, or they contain a variety of unrelated risks that straddle two or more Class boundaries.

A 5-Step Guide to Ship Dangerous Goods in UAE

1. Be Familiar with the Rules

When transporting anything deemed as dangerous goods, it’s crucial to adhere to the rules. The regulations provide information on the many packaging, supporting documentation, and labeling needed. To learn how your dangerous items will be carried, check with your carrier, as regulations can change based on the mode of transportation.

2. Make Sure That You Have the Necessary Training

Anyone shipping dangerous goods must have completed the necessary training and be familiar with the relevant regulations. Alternatively, you can employ someone or a business to prepare the shipment on your behalf who has undergone the necessary training.

3. Accurately Classify and Declare Your Shipment

The shipper is responsible for ensuring that the dangerous goods are appropriately labeled, packed, declared, and documented for the nations and territories of origin, transit, and destination. If unsure, ask the manufacturer or supplier to clarify the dangerous items’ classification.

4. Carefully Package Your Cargo

Most of the time, using certified packaging with clearly visible United Nations standard marks is a must. These indications show that the packaging has undergone testing to ensure that it possesses the necessary qualities to transport hazardous materials and dangerous goods. Check the most recent IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) to check if your shipment needs additional marks or different markings for each hazardous goods classification.

5. Do the Appropriate Labelling and Paperwork

Unobscured labels relating to the hazard class and secondary hazard are necessary for most dangerous goods shipments. Customers may buy authorized labels on the IATA dangerous goods website (or read a list of additional label providers). Reused boxes must have their previous tags removed. Additionally, shippers must make sure they have gone through all the necessary paperwork.

The Final Word

Shipping dangerous goods are challenging for any import-export business in the UAE. Such goods include a broad spectrum of materials and substances and generally fall into nine main classes, some of which with particular specialized subcategories. As a commercial trader, you must be fully informed of the relevant rules and regulations and the documentation and bureaucratic processes regarding their shipments in the country.

If you have any questions or need more detailed information about shipping various dangerous goods in the UAE, our team of qualified experts at DFreight is ready to help. Just contact us to learn more.

Have you ever had any experience with shipping dangerous goods in the UAE? If yes, what challenges did you face? Please share your experiences with us in the comments.


What is considered dangerous goods?

The term “dangerous goods” refers to substances or things having potentially dangerous properties that, if not correctly managed, pose a risk to the infrastructure, the health and safety of people, and/or their modes of transportation.

How many types of dangerous goods are there?

There are nine classes of dangerous goods in shipping: 1- Explosives 2- Gases 3- Flammable liquids 4- Flammable solids 5- Oxidizing substances 6- Toxic and infectious substances 7- Radioactives 8- Corrosives 9- Miscellaneous articles.

What does DGR stand for in the shipping industry?

DGR is an acronym for IATA – Dangerous Goods Regulations.

What is the difference between hazardous and dangerous goods?

Hazardous goods are categorized according to whether they may have acute (immediate) or chronic health impacts (long-term). In contrast, dangerous goods are classified based on their direct physical or chemical effects, like fire, explosion, corrosion, and poisoning.

What should I do to ship dangerous goods to the UAE?

First, get informed of the relevant rules and regulations, and ensure that you have the essential training. Then, classify your shipment and go through the declaration process. Finally, package your cargo and do the appropriate labeling.

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