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Freight from the USA

Shipping dangerous goods

Dangerous Goods (DG) is the term used in sea freight. In general, it implies the same as Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) in other modes of cargo transportation.

Depending on the risk involved in its transportation, Dangerous Goods shipping is divided by classes from 1 to 9. Most ocean freight carriers do not accept dangerous goods of classes other than 3, 8, and 9. If you ship DG of another class, you should search for an ocean freight carrier specializing in dangerous goods shipping.

Shipping from the USA cargo containing dangerous goods is heavily restricted and must be approved before booking. DG goods shipments are subject to DG surcharges. DG surcharges can be significant and always have a minimum charge per shipment.

DG surcharge does NOT include in price quotes received with our online calculator. If you select the DG option at the time of quoting an international shipment with our online freight calculator, you will provide us your Dangerous Goods Declaration (IMO) and, after that, wait for approval and DG surcharges from the ocean freight carrier.

Unless you are a professional in DG shipping, you should avoid shipping DG, if possible. For example, if you ship an electric lawnmower, then we'd suggest taking the battery off.

If you need a dangerous goods shipment anyway, before you search for a carrier, prepare the IMO Dangerous Goods Declaration (International Maritime Organization in the United Nations). Without IMO, ocean freight carriers will not be able to approve and book a DG shipment. You can submit a hazardous cargo request in proper form to be pre-approved. (Actually, the proper format is the draft of your IMO, but without sailing details). However, the IMO signed by the shipper must be attached to DG cargo before the cargo will obtain a release to sail.

Dangerous Goods Declaration in shipping from the USA by sea is a document prepared by the consigner (the shipper) to certify that the transporting from the USA dangerous goods are packed, labeled, and declared complying with standards in international cargo transportation by sea. Samples of DG declaration forms for international shipping from the USA are widely available online. Here is a sample of the DG Declaration used in international cargo transportation from the USA.

Dangerous Goods shipping from the USA

Providing Dangerous Goods Declarations in international shipping from the USA is Shippers' responsibility. The shipper is responsible for identifying whether his/her international sea freight shipment contains dangerous goods or not.

Even a small part of shipping from the USA cargo contains dangerous goods, unless the part of shipping goods booked separately, the entire shipment considers dangerous. Shipper must identify, classify, pack, mark, label, and complete all documents related to international DG cargo transportation. Failure to do so could create hazardous conditions on the cargo vessel and result in administrative fines under applicable laws. In certain cases, failure to comply with DG regulations may result in criminal charges.

The first step in shipping any cargo from the USA is to identify either an international sea freight shipment contains dangerous goods or not, i.e., whether the international shipment includes aerosol sprays, airbags, ammunition, butane, car batteries, cologne, dry ice, fireworks, gasoline, jet fuel, lighters, lithium batteries, matches, nail polish, nail polish remover, nitrogen-refrigerated liquid, paint, perfume, solvents, some chemicals, etc.

If you are unsure whether your commodity meets the criteria or which identification of hazardous goods and classification applies to your international shipment, then at the beginning, contact the U.S. Department of TRANSPORTATION at 1-800-467-4922. You also may contact a manufacturer of your goods to identify either your international shipment contains dangerous goods or not. If yes, then gather the essential information necessary to prepare the Dangerous Goods Declaration for shipping your goods from the USA overseas.

Once again, please: Most international sea freight carriers will NOT approve dangerous goods for shipping from the USA other than IMO Classes 3, 8 & 9. International transportation of dangerous goods from the U.S., other than classes 3, 8 & 9, requires a carrier with specialized equipment to transport dangerous goods of particular classes.


Segregation of DG / Hold Harmless Letter

Some dangerous goods are incompatible with other substances. They may react with other dangerous goods, chemicals, or apparently harmless substances, such as dust, air, or water. Dangerous goods can easily come into contact with incompatible substances through spillage or leakage and may liberate toxic gases or cause a fire or an explosion. It is a legal requirement that dangerous goods shipping from the U.S. not compatible with other substances are stored and handled separately so that a loss of containment or interaction cannot cause a serious incident. This can be achieved by the use of an impervious barrier or a suitable separation distance.

If dangerous goods have to be segregated by the ocean freight carrier in international transportation, then the consigner must furnish a HOLD HARMLESS LETTER under the consigner’s letterhead.

HOLD HARMLESS LETTER must clearly state that:

  1. International sea freight carrier and other parties involved in the segregation will NOT be responsible for any damages, loss of cargo, etc. when the global sea freight carrier/warehouse does the segregation,
  2. Instructions on precisely what is to be segregated and,
  3. The international shipper guarantees to pay the international sea freight carrier segregation charges.
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