Risk Management and Safety provides services to ensure that hazardous materials shipped by air, land, or sea are done so in accordance with all regulatory requirements. Some examples are dangerous goods (flammable, corrorive, toxic, and/or reactive substances), biological materials, and samples in dry ice.

If you have a question about whether a substance or item you are trying to ship is a dangerous good or hazardous material, contact safety@uvm.edu.

Dry Ice Shipments

There are procedures in place that, with the proper training, researchers are able to ship samples with dry ice following federal regulations. The following information outlines the procedures for shipping ONLY dry ice and/or non-hazardous materials by aircraft.

Hazard Identification

Dry ice is classified by DOT and IATA as a Class 9, "miscellaneous" hazard and is considered hazardous during transportation for three reasons:

  1. Explosion hazard: dry ice releases a large volume of carbon dioxide gas as it sublimates. If packaged in a container that does not allow for release of the gas, it may explode causing personal injury or property damage.
  2. Suffocation hazard: a large volume of carbon dioxide gas emitted in a confined space may create an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
  3. Contack hazard: dry ice is a cryogenic material that causes severe frostbite upon contact with skin.

Training Requirements

Federal regulations require that anyone involved in shipping hazardous material (including dry ice) must first receive traiing. If you are going to package dry ice for shipment or sign any type of shipping documentation (such as a FedEx airbill) for a dry ice shipment, you must first complete the online training for dy ice shipping. Shipping regulations change frequently, so it is required for you to renew your certification every three years.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Asociation (IATA) regulate air shipments of dry ice because it is a hazardous material. As a result, specific procedures must be followed when packaging and shipping by air materials refrigerated with dry ice. A record of training must also be kept. Packages refrigerated with dry ice are normally shipped by air in order to reach their destination rapidly. Therefore, information on this training pertains to air shipments only, since ground shipments of dry ice are not regulated. If you intend to ship your package by water, contact safety@uvm.edu to discuss applicability of shipping regulations.

Definitions of Excepted Materials

Excepted Human Specimens

Definition: Hume, animal, insect, or plant material which do not contain infectious substances or substances which are unlikely to cause disease in humans or animals and are transported for diagnostic or investigational purposes. Examples include excreta (urine, feces), blood or its components, secreta (salive, sweat), and tissues and fluids.

Routine blood, serum, or urine samples from patients shipped to a laboratory for routine testing are except only if, in your professional judgment (based on medical history, symptoms, and individual circumstances of the source), the patients have a minimal likelihood of being infectious.

Speciments suspected of being infectious must be shipped as infectious agents and further training is required.

Live animals or infected animal speciments are NOT considered exempt.

Packaging requirements for liquid specimens are the same as for category B (UN3373) non-exempt specimens.

Other Excepted Biological Specimens

Similarly to the excepted human specimens, the following are NOT subject to the requirements of teh DOT/IATA regulations as part of Division 6.2 material (biological and infectious materials):

  • Neutralized or inactivated biological substance: substances in a form that any present pathogens have been neutralized or inactivated such that they no longer pose a health risk.
  • Microorganisms which are non-pathogenic to humans or animals and do not pose a threat to the environment.
  • Environmental samples, including food and water samples, which are not considered to pose a significant risk of infection.
  • Dried blood spots: collected by applying a drop of blood onto absorbent material or fecal occult blood screening test.
  • Transfusion materials: (uninfected) blood components which have been collected for the purposes of transfusion or the preparation of blood products to be used for tranfusion or transplantation.

Specimens in Fixatives

Specimens in formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, or any other chemical fixative may be shipped as long as the amount of chemical is 30 mL or less in each individual container. Samples with more than 30 mL of fixative must be shipped as a chemical hazard (either by the Safety staff or after additional training).

Packaging Excepted Human/Animal Specimens

Although specimens or samples are excepted materials, certain packaging requirements are still applicable. Care in teh selection of the proper packaging will safeguard your shipment and reduce your liability in case of shipment accident.

The outer packaging must be a cardboard box - do NOT ship in styrofoam boxes that are not within cardboard!

Triple Package System for Shipping ALL Liquid Biological Materials

  1. Primary container must be water-tight, leak-proof, securely closed receptacles (i.e. eppendorf tube, conical, or vial). Parafilm can be used to secure the seal of the tubes. Specimen bags should be taped shut. You may ship miltiple receptacles in the same package.
  2. Leak-proof secondary container (in case the primary containment fails) with sufficient absorbent materials to completely absorb the contents in the event of a spill.
  3. Durable outer container (box/packaging): styrofoam boxes must be placed within a durable cardboard box. The outer box MUST be marked with "Exempt Human Specimen" or "Exempt Animal Specimen." 

It is a good idea to place an itemized list of contents in between the secondary container and teh outer package. When re-using boxes, ensure cardboard is intact, without any tears, dents, or other damage.

Preparing and Packaging Your Shipment

Dry ice shipments can be made with FedEX and DHL. UPS and the U.S. Postal Service have extremely restrictive policies concerning shipments of hazardous materials. Do NOT ship dry ice with UPS or USPS from UVM.

Packaging dry ice properly minimizes the risk to personnel transporting the material. The explosion hazard is eliminated by using the proper package designed to vent gaseous carbon dioxide. Suffocation and contact hazards are greatly reduced by labeling the package correctly, so those who come in contact with it will be aware of the contents. 

When choosing a container to ship dry ice, consider the following:

  • Gas venting. Packages must allow for release of carbon dioxide gas. Dry ice must never be sealed in a container with an airtight seal such as a jar with a threaded lid.
  • Package integrity. A package containing dry ice must be of adequate strength for intended use. It must be strong enough to withstand the loading and unloading normally encountered in transport. It must also be constructed and closed in order to prevent any loss of contents that might be caused by vibration or by changes in temperature, humidity, or altitude.
  • Package materials. Do not use plastics that can be rendered brittle or permeable by the temperature of dry ice. This probelm can be avoided by using commercially available packages intended to contain dry ice.

Reusing a dry ice box is a good use of resources. If you choose to reuse a box...

  • Completely obliterate all unnecessary markings such as hazard labels, addresses, FedEx (or other courier) labels, and barcodes;
  • Use caution if reusing a box that has been used to ship infectious material or diagnostic specimens;
  • Only reuse a box if you can personally verify it has not be contaminated; 
  • Be certain that the integrity of the box has not be compromised; and
  • A box should not be torn (including the outer paper layer which is often torn when removing tape), cut, stained, or if the insulation is cracked or broken.

Ensure the quantity of the dry ice does not exceed 200 kg per package.

Wear the appropriate thermal gloves or use a scoop when handling dry ice. NEVER handle dry ice with your bare hands.

Packaging Recommendations

  • Samples should be surrounded by absorbent material and then placed in secondary containment. 
  • Secure your samples in such a way that when the dry ice sublimes, they will not move freely inside of the insulated box. 
  • Fragile containers, such as glass tubes or vials, should be wrapped with cushioning material.
  • Minimize the volume of air to which the dry ice is exposed in order to slow the rate of sublimation. You can fill any air space with packing peanuts or other material.
  • Shipments are generally recommended to contain 5-10 pounds of dry ice per 24 hours. (Refer to the package manufacturer's recommendations. 
  • Make arrangements with the person receiving the package to make sure your package will be received on its intended delivery date. Take into account local holidays or closings that might delay package receipt.
  • Place tape only as directed by either the packaging manufacturer or in a way that will not interfere with gas release (i.e. don't fully tape all seams).

Air Way Bill

Most shipments of dangerous goods must be accompanied by two shipping documents: an air waybill and a shipper's Declaration for Dangerous Goods. However, the Declaration for Dangerous Goods is NOT required for dry ice ONLY packages.

For domestic shipments containing dry ice as the only dangerous good, the air waybill is required. It must have the following information:

  • Dry Ice, 9, UN1845, [number of packages] X [net weight of dry ice in kilograms]

FedEx air waybill already has this information typed. Just check the appropriate box, and write in the amount of dry ice and the number of packages.

Liquid Nitrogen Dry Shippers

Dry shippers are large vacuum flasks that contain a porous material and are designed for the safe shipment of specimens at liquid nitrogen temperatures without the risk of spilling liquid nitrogen. When prepared correctly, a dry shipper does not contain any free liquid nitrogen and is exempt from DOT hazardous materials shipping requirements. Dry shippers are only exempt if three things are true:

  1. It will not allow the build-up of pressure within the container.
  2. It will not permit the release of any liquid nitrogen regardless of the dry shipper's orientation (i.e. tipped on the side or upside down).
  3. It is identified as "Not restricted, as per Special Provision A152" on the accompanying air waybill.

Dry ice shippers are only exempt if the above conditions are met, they do NOT contain any regulated products, and they do not contain any free liquid nitrogen.

Preparing the Dry Shipper

When using a dry shipper, always follow the manufacturer's instructions for filling and the following guidelines:

  • Wear a face shield, safety glases, lab coat or long sleeved shirt, closed toed shoes, and appropriate insulated gloves designed for handling liquid nitrogen.
  • Always work in well ventilated areas.
  • Add liquid nitrogen slowly to the dry shipper. A significant amount of nitrogen gas will be released as the cold liquid contacts the warm surfaces of the shipper.
  • Stop filling when the liquid nitrogen reaches the neck of the dry shipper. Replace cap and set it aside, as specified in the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Repeat steps until the liquid level no longer drops on standing. This may require many repetitions over 24 hours.

When preparing for shipping, remove ALL free liquid nitrogen from the dry shipper before transport.

  • Wear the appropriate PPE (listed above).
  • Empty by pouring the excess back into a liquid nitrogen dewar. NEVER pour it down the sink or on the floor.
  • Hold the shipper upside down until the liquid stops flowing. Then, stand it upright for a period as specified by the manufacturer. Repeat as necessary to remove all liquid.

Documentation for Shipping

IATA regulations require the words "Not Restricted" and the Special Provision number to be included in the description of the substance on the air waybill. When an air waybill is issued, "Not restricted, as per Special Provision A152" must be added.



Dangerous Goods and/or Hazardous Materials Shipments

The following information outlines the procedures for shipping dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials. There are additional trainings required to ship these materials including DOT and IATA trainings. 


There are a number of materials that fall under the category of dangerous goods or hazardous materials. Hazardous materials include the following:

  • Explosives
  • Compresssed gases
  • Flammable liquids and solids
  • Oxidizers
  • Organic peroxides
  • Toxic liquids and solids
  • Radioactive materials
  • Corrosive materials

Some examples of hazardous materials are samples stored in ethanol, samples containing beryllium or other heavy metals, and samples preserved in hydrochloric acid. If you are planning to ship specimens that contain materials with any of the above hazards, additional training is required.

Biological substances that meet the definition of either Category A or B (infectious substance as defined below) also require addition training (than only the dry ice shipping training). 

Infectious substance: a material known or reasonably expected to contain a microorganism or infectious particle that can cause disease in humans or animals.

Examples: cultures only of Hepatitis B, West Nile, and Dengue viruses; Adenovirus; Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1); and Streptococcal bacteria.

If you are unsure if the material you will be stipping is considered an infectious substance, consult the following diagram to dtermine if your shipment is subject to the requirements of a 6.2 material.

see imageView supporting diagrams


If you are still unsure if the material you are shipping is considered hazardous, or if you intend to ship any hazardous chemical, biological, or radioactive material, refer to the DOT website or contact safety@uvm.edu.


The preparers of shipments of hazardous materials must be trained in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International air Transport Association (IATA). Safety staff maintains trained individals to provide shipping services to UVM labs. We also provide IATA biological shipping classroom training to individuals who make routine shipments of some types of biological materials. This training is provided (and required) every 3 years and also reviews what you need to know before shipping with dry ice. The most recent training was 2018.


You can request assistant for shipments:

  • Please provide the Safety staff with advanced notice (at least 3 business days)
  • Submit a request to safety@uvm.edu or your lab safety coordinator
  • Provide information using forms linked below

Make sure to do the following before putting any shipment together:

  • Contact Safety staff to assist with the shipment. Be specific regarding what chemical and/or biological materials you need to ship. Describe what chemical or media materials is required to maintain viability of samples during the shipment. 
  • Indicate whether dry ice is needed to be used in the packaging. If so, have a supply available.
  • If the shipment is going domestic travel by air, double check that you have an appropriate FedEx air waybill. International waybills differ from domestic ones, and carriers (FedEx, DHL) have specific ones that must be used. Waybills may be filled out online, but you must register online and get a login from the carrier. Ascertain whether or not your lab has an account or if your department has an umbrella account for shipments. If they have an account, check for hard copy air waybills. If not, you may register online and fill out associated documents on the carrier websites.
  • To prepare for an international shipment, you must have your recipient check for any necessary import permits that may be required to bring your materials/shipment into the destination country.  Each country has specific requirements. If appropriate paperwork is not received by the customs officials in the destination country, the material will not be allowed entrance. In some instances, the customs office may contact you and paperwork will be rushed. In other cases, the package may be destroyed. Therefore, it is highly imperative to work out paperwork requirements before sending the package to an international location.
  • International shipments also require a "Commercial Invoice." these can be found online, and hard copies are available at local FedEx offices.
  • Work with Safety staff to properly classify the material you are shipping. if you are not appropriately trained, Safety staff can assist with packaging the materials appropriately. You will be required to pay for and supply the proper packaging materials.

If you need to ship any radioactive materials, STOP, and check out the Ordering, Shipping, and Procuring Radioactive Materials page or contact the Radiation Safety staff.



Failure to comply with regulations for shipping hazardous materials can result in significant civil penalties for the shipper of up to $50,000 per violation. Regulations require that only properly trained personnel are to prepare shipments and documents for hazardous materials shipments. Safety staff have the required trainings. Please contact us for assistance for hazardous materials shipments.