How Do UN Hazardous Transport Regulations Compare to US Shipping Standards?

Whether shipping within the United States or abroad, hazardous materials or HAZMAT goods are a special case. Procedural norms for handling them can be complicated, especially when more than one country is involved.

UN Model Regulations guide the international transport of hazardous goods. While not a global rule of law, they are widely accepted. They also serve as a guide for developing and implementing regulations closer to home.

UN Certified Packaging Brings Continuity to Hazardous Materials Handling

One of the first steps in safely handling hazardous materials is classifying them. Is the material a flammable liquid or solid? Is it a gas or an explosive? The UN Regulation Model for dangerous goods has several classifications and they all require special packaging.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the same HAZMAT classifications as the UN  requirements. That is due in part to the need for consistency in handling dangerous materials, whether it is a domestic or international shipment. It is also because UN classifications are accurate. There is little reason to overcomplicate matters.

DOT Rules Apply Across Every Regulated Mode of Transportation

In the U.S. and many countries around the world, the predictable rules for hazardous goods are in effect for every regulated mode of materials transport. Lion Technology explains that whether it is by rail, air, vessel, or motor vehicle, hazardous materials transported within, out of, or through America are equally subject to regulation.

Many rules are the same from one American mode to the next, but each one is subject to special rules as well. As for international transportation, standards such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) take precedence. Again, they are all rooted in or very similar to UN Model Regulations.

UN certified packaging

Some HAZMAT containers have an expiration date.

UN Model Rules are Sometimes More Stringent

Just because HAZMAT packaging is safe inside the United States does not mean it is deemed safe for international transport. Daniel Stoehr of Daniels Training Services writes at New Pig that a good example is the plastic drum container.

In some ways, domestic and international regulations are the same. Stoehr offers these as examples:

  • The packaging must be officially authorized for containing the material.
  • The shipper has determined that the packaging meets general HAZMAT packing rules.
  • The packaging must be clearly labeled with its UN standard classification.

For certain HAZMAT packaging, such as plastic drums, additional DOT or UN requirements apply:

  • Suitable materials and strength for its intended use.
  • No recycled materials allowed without explicit permission.
  • UV protection acceptable if it does not compromise packaging integrity.
  • Every point in the packaging must meet strength standards.
  • Acceptable, standard size openings for filling, emptying, and venting.
  • Secure closure for removable head containers.
  • Within the maximum capacity and net mass dimensions.

For international transport, there is another regulation to meet. Packaging for hazardous materials may only be used within five years after the manufacture date.

The UN Model Regulations were developed by the Economic and Social Council’s Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Although they were created and issued as recommendations, the scope of research and level of subject matter expertise of the committee makes the regulations universally valuable. That is why the United States, as well as countries around the world, have created similar domestic rules.

Modeling domestic HAZMAT transport rules after UN specifications brings uniformity to industries that manufacture, package, transport, and store hazardous materials. DOT rules might not be identical in every instance, but they are quite similar.

Remaining compliant with UN-certified packaging standards requires working with a supplier that is innately knowledgeable with product and packaging classifications and the testing required to remain compliant. Having passed rigorous testing, CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box allows you to transport a wide array of goods domestically and internationally. Download this data sheet to learn more about CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box packaging and how it will help you keep your business moving.

Yes! Read the UN-Certified Bag-in-Box Data Sheet

CDF’s Bag-in-Box receives UN Certification for 20 Liter Bag-In-Box Packaging

CDF Corporation, a leading manufacturer of drum, pail, intermediate bulk container and bag in box liners and flexible packaging, has successfully passed the design qualification testing of a combination package; fiberboard box with a plastic bag. CDF’s UN certified bag-in-box will provide the highest levels of protection for transporting hazardous products requiring class II and III packaging.


The 20 liter bag-in-box packaging endured four rigorous performance tests executed by Ten-E Packaging Services; the tests include drop, stacking, vibration and cobb water absorption. Prior to testing, the packages were prepared exactly as they would be for transportation and in accordance to UN testing guidelines. TEN-E used an alternate solution in place of the hazardous material, as allowed by the UN testing regulations.


“Our development team did a tremendous job creating a product that meets the rigorous UN standards while offering unique value to our customers.  We are excited to continue our growth into the UN package market segment,” said Jay Waltz, CDF Vice President of Sales & Marketing.


For the box drop tests, each package was dropped from 47.2”. The first drop was flat on the bottom, the second drop was flat on the top, the third drop was flat on the long side, the fourth drop was flat on the short side and the fifth drop was on a corner. Any breakage or leaking during the tests void the package. One prepared package was dropped for each test. CDF’s bag-in-box package passed the drop tests at 1.2m.


The stacking test is performed to ensure the packages are strong enough that they will not collapse. For the stacking tests, two filled packages of the same type are placed on the test sample. The stacked packages must maintain their position for one hour. CDF’s bag-in-box package passed the stacking test at 303.9Kg – 24 hours.


The vibration tests are done to simulate the package traveling by motorized vehicle. For this test, the packages are placed upright on a vibration platform. The packages are constrained horizontally to prevent falling off the table, but can move vertically to bounce and rotate. Immediately following the period of vibration, each package is removed from the platform, turned on its side and observed for evidence of leakage. CDF’s bag-in-box package passed the vibration test at 4.1Hz – 1 hour.


The cobb water absorption test is performed on the fiberboard outer package to test the quantity of water that can be absorbed by the surface of paper or board in a given time. This is to ensure the paper used is of high enough quality and that it will not disintegrate with moisture. CDF’s box passed the cobb water absorption test at 30 minutes.

CDF Europe with Alma Chimica Launches UN Certified Waterproof Bag-in-Box

CDF Europe, a leading manufacturer of flexible packaging, announced a supply agreement with Alma Chimica, Italy’s leading producer of detergents and cleaning chemicals, for their newly UN certified, waterproof bag-in-box.  The package will be filled throughout Alma Chimica’s umbrella organisation under the trade name “Ecobox”.  The bag-in-box, manufactured using CDF Europe’s patented Cheertainer liner, is considered to be the world’s first UN certified bag-in-box.

Michael Watson, CDF Europe Sales & Marketing Director says, “This unique product launch and to be working with a company like Alma Chimica is incredibly exciting for us.  UN certification is critical for these applications and we are able to offer this package with all the benefits Cheertainer brings, including significant reductions in waste disposal and logistics costs.”

Alma Chimica has launched the UN certified “Ecobox” in several markets including in-home and industrial detergents and cleaning chemicals.

Gianpaolo Maino Sales Manager for Alma Chimica says “Cheertainer has had a tremendous impact on our overall business.  It has allowed us to become more sustainable, which was an important goal for our company.  It has also allowed us to provide a safer and easier-to-use product.”

This is the first package in the Italian detergents marketplace to feature connector dispensing, allowing for the product to be evacuated in a portion-controlled manner.  Connector dispensing is critical when used with hazardous chemicals as it greatly improves safety in the workplace by minimizing spillage and contamination issues.