Do you need to provide a SDS with your hazmat shipment?

If the carrier is asking you for an SDS (Safety Data Sheet – formerly known as MSDS) for your hazardous materials/dangerous goods shipment, it does not mean that you have to comply. The SDS is in no way considered to be a dangerous goods shipping document and is never required in the shipping process by any mode.  However, carriers are generally private companies and can ask for anything they want as a matter of their company policy.  In fact, in IATA Section 2.8.5, State & Operator Variations, it provides a place for “Operators” (airlines/carriers) to publish these policies for the air shipping community to see.  However, whether or not they have published this requirement does not matter, operators can pretty much create any policies they want as a condition of shipping dangerous goods with them as long as such variations are MORE RESTRICTIVE than the base IATA (ICAO)/DOT regulations.

Also, a word about SDS (MSDS) sheets in general; the SDS is NOT a shipping document; furthermore, they are NOT even required for hazardous ARTICLES (such as batteries) only for hazardous chemicals.  The SDS is meant to be used for workplace safety compliance and are never required for shipping dangerous goods.  The primary reason SDS are used by dangerous goods/hazmat shippers is to identify and classify materials properly.  They can also be used (as just one of several possible methods) to provide written emergency response information which is required by the US DOT along with a 24-hour emergency telephone number.

For additional information about the emergency telephone number requirements see our Knowledge Base Article on our website.