RoadSafe Europe

Dangerous Goods & transport training and consultancy

Dangerous goods are assigned to different classes depending on their predominant hazard. The United Nations (UN) classifies Dangerous Goods in the following classes and, where applicable, divisions. The consignor - the person or business shipping the goods - is responsible for classifying, marking and packaging the Dangerous Goods.

The nine classes are:

Class Danger Division Main Hazard
1 Explosives 1.1 Mass explosion
1.2 Projection
1.3 Flammability
1.4 Insignificant
1.5 Mass explosion
1.6 Projection
2 Gases 2.1 Flammability
2.2 Non-toxic, non- flammable gas
2.3 Toxic
3 Flammable liquids Flammability
4 Flammable solids 4.1 Flammable solids
4.2 Spontaneously combustible
4.3 Water reactive
5 Oxidizers 5.1 Oxidizers
5.2 Organic peroxides
6 Toxins 6.1 Toxic materials
6.2 Infectious substances
7 Radioactive Ionising Radiation
8 Corrosives Corrosive
9 Miscellaneous substances and articles Various

ADR Load Thresholds

There are some concessions on ADR requirements where the total goods carried in a single transport unit do not exceed the "ADR Load Limits". These limits are based on the Transport category of the goods, effectively an indication of the degree of risk they pose. these limits are shown below:

For Packaged Dangerous Goods only
Transport Category Total Dangerous Goods load*
 0  0 - All amounts count
1  20
2  333
3  1000
4  Unlimited

* Nominal capacity (litres) - liquids and compressed gas cylinders. Net mass of product (kg) - solids and liquified gases. Gross mass (kg) - articles.

The Department for Transport has devised a database of Dangerous Goods, searchable by UN number that can be freely accessed for further information by clicking HERE.

Packaging rules

Packaging has to be designed and constructed to United Nations (UN) specification standards and must prove competence by passing practical transport related tests such as being dropped, held in a stack and subjected to pressure demands. It must also meet the needs of the substance it is to contain. Packagings must be certified by a national competent authority. The Vehicle Certification Agency Dangerous (VCA) Goods Office has responsibility for the certification of dangerous goods packaging within the UK.

UN approved packaging is marked with the prefix 'UN' and followed by codes that are listed in the relevant regulations relating to the national and international carriage of dangerous goods by road, rail, air and sea.

Suppliers of Dangerous Goods are required by law to label their products with hazard symbols, warnings and safety advice. A range of internationally recognised symbols have been developed so that people handling the goods know the nature of the hazard they present.

Safety labelling requirements can vary between countries. For example, the USA has different requirements from most European countries. This means that consignments from the USA marked as Dangerous Goods frequently need to be re-labelled once they are transported into the European Union.

Transport Documents

The ADR regulations require specific information to be included in a "Transport Document", and for this information to be shown in a specific format, as shown below:

A) The UN Number, preceded by the letters “UN”.

B) The Proper Shipping Name supplemented, when applicable, with the technical name. This is normally required when the proper Shipping name is an ‘N.O.S’ entry. Trade names alone must not be used.

C) The number shown in the bottom of the primary hazard class label followed by any subsidiary hazard label numbers shown in brackets.

D) The Packing Group, where assigned, for the substance which may be preceded with the letters “PG” (e.g. PG II).

E) The number and kind of packages (e.g. 5 x 200 ltr steel drums). There is no need to specify details of inner receptacles or inner packagings, although when shipping as Limited Quantities it is advisable to do so.

F) The total quantity of each item of dangerous goods bearing a different UN number, proper shipping name, or, when applicable, packing group (as a volume or as a gross mass, or as a net mass as appropriate).

G) The name and address of the consignor.

H) The name and address of the consignee(s), or the words "delivery sale" if there are multiple consignees who cannot be specified.

I) A declaration as required by the terms of any special agreement.

K) Where assigned, the tunnel restriction code shown in capitals enclosed within brackets.

The order of the data formulating the transport document description should be A), B), C), D) and K), with no information interspersed, except as provided for in ADR. For example:

  • UN 1230, METHANOL, 3,(6.1), PGII, (C/D)

NOTE – for combined sea and road/rail transport, consignments that fully meet the requirements of the IMDG code shall be accepted for carriage under ADR/RID, and a statement shall be included the transport document as follows: “Carriage in accordance with”. IMDG consignments are generally accompanied with a Dangerous Goods Note. A guide to completing these forms can be found by clicking HERE (opens in a new window).