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Shipping Excepted Quantities – Ocean vs Air

Last Updated On May 23, 2019

Many people are surprised to learn that the requirements for small excepted quantities of dangerous goods are MORE restrictive under IMDG ocean regulations than by IATA air rules.

The main difference between the modes is a 1000 package limit per container for ocean, and an additional ocean documentation requirement. Other that that – they’re the same.

Feel free to review and distribute this comparison table showing the IATA versus IMDG rules regarding small packagings of Dangerous Goods shipped with the red “E” marking (sometimes it’s black and white).

TopicIATAIMDGComment
Classification and Quantity LimitsLook up in DG List to determine EQ code.Look up in DG List to determine EQ code.IATA 4.2
IMDG 3.2
PackagingActually have to test package as loaded for transport (and document testing.)Actually have to test package as loaded for transport (and document testing.)IATA 2.6.6
IMDG 3.5.3
Different EQ Codes in Same Outer PackagingThe total quantity per outer packaging must be limited to that corresponding to the most restrictive Code.The total quantity per outer packaging must be limited to that corresponding to the most restrictive Code.IATA 2.6.4.3
IMDG 3.5.1.3
Packaging ConfigurationTriple pack (generally). Inner, Intermediate, plus Outer packaging. Triple pack (generally). Inner, Intermediate, plus Outer packaging. IATA 2.6.5
IMDG 3.5.2.1
MarkingExcepted Quantity Mark with Class # plus Consignor or Consignee if not shown on the package.Excepted Quantity Mark with Class # plus Consignor or Consignee if not shown on the package.IATA 2.6.7.1
IMDG 3.5.2.1
OverpacksPackages marked as always, in addition overpack must be marked “Overpack,” plus package marks must be duplicated on the overpack if not visible from the outside of the overpack. Packages marked as always, in addition overpack must be marked “Overpack,” plus package marks must be duplicated on the overpack if not visible from the outside of the overpack. IATA 2.6.7.2
IMDG 3.5.4.3
Documentation

This is the biggest difference between air and ocean. Ocean is MORE restrictive than air when it comes to documentation.
IATA: No DG Docs only AWB statement of “Dangerous Goods in Excepted Quantities” and indicate the number of packages unless these are the only packages within the consignment.In addition to the provisions for documentation specified in chapter 5.4, the words “dangerous goods in excepted quantities” and the number of packages shall be included on the dangerous goods transport document together with the description of the shipment.IATA 2.6.8
IMDG 3.5.6.1
Loading and StowageIATA segregation requirements of 9.3.1 do apply.Category A stowage as per 7.1.3.2 otherwise, N/A. Segregation within a package of EQ isn’t regulated except they can’t react with one another (3.5.8.2).IATA 2.6.9
IMDG 3.5.7.1
IMDG 3.5.8
IMDG 3.5.5 (1000 pkg limit)
TrainingGoverned by US DOT 49 CFR 173.4a not subpart H of Part 172.Governed by US DOT 49 CFR 173.4a not subpart H of Part 172.
PlacardsNone because labels aren’t required.None because labels aren’t required.