What do you need to know to transport dangerous freight?

For all carriers who have to transport dangerous freight, it is important to know provisions of the relevant regulations. Perhaps the best-known regulation is the ADR (the European Agreement on the International Carriage of Dangerous Freight by Road) adopted by the United Nations in 1957. The Regulation is called ADR under the French name of the document. This document defines the labelling of dangerous goods, distinguishes between different freight classes and their hazard levels as well as provides for the types of freight that can be transported, etc. Recent amendments to the ADR entered into force in January of 2017. In this article, we will provide the most relevant information in order to avoid misunderstandings and safely transport dangerous freight by ferry.

It depends on the mode of transport what regulations you must follow

Regulation requirements defining how freight should be transported depend on the mode of its transportation. There are certain requirements if you intend to transport the freight by rail, and the other - if you intend to carry by aircraft or ferry. Here is a list of regulations according to the mode of freight transportation which they determine:

  • Land road —> ADR
  • Sea —> IMDG
  • Air —> ICAO DGR
  • Railways —> RID
  • Inland waterways —> ADN

Having selected the mode of transportation, it is very important to properly prepare the freight documentation. If you chose to transport the dangerous freight by ferry, it should be noted that all ferry operators must comply with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) Code. This means that not all types of dangerous freight can be transported by passenger ferries, some have to be loaded on the ferry with a limited number of passengers or the separate freight transportation travel has to be arranged. In order to avoid malfunctions, it is best to find out in advance what type of ferry is allowed to carry the relevant freight, and to prepare all the necessary documents.

Importance of the properly completed declaration

The most important document for transportation of the dangerous freight is the properly completed declaration. Normally, this document must be submitted to the seaport staff at least 24 hours until departure time (in exceptional cases, it may be required to submit the declaration before 48 hours). Failure to provide a declaration will prevent your cargo from being taken on board. Ferry personnel must obtain the following data to assess that your freight can be transported on the required route:

  • UN code (for example, UN 0356)
  • Freight class (for example, 1 – explosives)
  • Packing group (for example, 2nd)

It should be noted that not all classes of dangerous freight may be transported by ferries. Whether your freight can be transported, you will be able to find out using this table which lists classes of hazardous substances in accordance with the IMDG Code. However, this list is an abstract, and in each case, the ferry lines should be consulted since permission or prohibition regarding transportation of your cargo may also depend on the UN number or the packing group.

Hazard class Hazardous material Acceptance of shipment
1. Explosives No
2. 1. Flammable gas Yes
2. 2. Non-flammable gas Yes
2. 3. Toxic gas No
3. Flammable liquids, I packing group No
3. Flammable liquids, II or III packing group Yes
4. 1. Flammable solids Yes
4. 2. Self-inflammable substances Yes
4. 3. Moisture-sensitive substances Yes
5. 1. Oxidizing substances Yes
5. 2. Oxidising peroxides No
6. 1. Toxic substances Yes
6. 2. Infectious substances No
7. Radioactive materials No
8. Corrosive substances Yes
9. Various hazardous substances Yes

Plan beforehand

Remember the fact that seaports are subject to strict control, and thorough inspection of the transported freight is performed so we recommend that you attentively pre-arrange your shipping documentation especially if you carry the freight assigned to the class of dangerous freight.

As we have already mentioned, in order not to be left at the port, the filled-in freight declaration should be submitted beforehand. Also take into account the deadlines for submitting documents. If the carrier does not provide information to the ferry staff in advance, the driver who arrives at the port may encounter difficulties entering the ferry, in addition, a fine of up to 50 EUR may be applied for failure to provide information on time. It is also important that if you provide information in advance, you will have more time to make amendments, and clarify which documents are needed. If information is provided at the time of registration, the freight may not be taken on board because, for example, it may become clear that the driver does not have all the necessary documents

When transporting dangerous freight, ferry workers must also consider whether it can be transported alongside the other dangerous freight or transportation of you your cargo may require an open deck, etc. If a freight of one class with all correctly completed documents is already registered, probability that your freight may be not taken on board is increasing. Thus, planning ached can ensure smooth freight shipping.

You can pay twice instead of once

It is not a secret that every company is trying to save and make more profit but we want to warn that austerity should not be a priority when it comes to transporting dangerous freight. Depending on the ferry company and the route, transportation of the regular freight can be cheaper from 50 to 120 EUR than transportation of the dangerous freight. There are occasions when carriers try to conceal the transportation of dangerous freight and in the seaport present false documents claiming that the freight transported does not belong to the class of dangerous freight. However, such an attempt to save money can be costly. It is not even worth talking about the possible consequences of an accident in the ferry where ferry workers and other passengers would not be aware of the dangerous freight in it. So let's not forget the legal responsibility: if during a check at a port or ferry a dangerous freight is found without the required documentation, port workers would follow requirement to inform the police, which means that the carrier would face serious legal troubles due to falsification of documents.

Wishing you a safe journey, we invite to get acquainted with the exact requirements for your cargo, and in case of uncertainty our team will always be able to help you. We find out what requirements your freight must meet in order to safely transport it by ferry, and help to prepare all necessary documents.