General Packing Requirements for Dangerous Goods Shipped by Air [IATA DGR 5.0.2]

May 24, 2018

To ship dangerous goods by air, you must follow the general packing requirements in Section 5.0.2 of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). You must also follow the requirements that apply to each hazard class included in your shipment. For example, hazard classes 1 Explosives, 2 Gases, and 7 Radioactives have their own general packing requirements. You can locate the specific packing instructions for any dangerous good by finding the material’s proper shipping name in column B of the IATA DGR’s list of dangerous goods, and then look for the packing instruction that is referenced in columns G, I, and K.

The general packing requirements in IATA DGR section 5.0.2 include:

  • You must use good quality packaging, able to withstand loading/unloading and conditions normal to transport
  • Packages must be constructed and closed in a manner that prevents any loss of contents
  • Packages must be closed according to the manufacturer’s specifications
  • No dangerous residue can be on the outside of the package
  • The package, including absorbents and cushioning material, must be compatible with its contents
  • Packages must not be used if they are constructed of materials that can become softened, brittle, or permeable due to temperatures experienced during air transport; chemical reaction with the contents; or the use of a refrigerant
  • Wood packaging materials must conform to the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM15) and EU Commission Directive 2004/102/EC
  • Packaging and closure method must take into consideration temperature and vibration extremes
  • Liquids in inner packaging must have a positive means of closure (e.g., tape, friction sleeves) or must be placed inside a leak-proof liner
  • Enough head space must be provided so that liquids do not completely fill the package at 130°F
  • Packaging for liquids must be able to withstand an internal pressure that produces the specified pressure differential in IATA DGR section without leakage
  • Packaging for solids that may become liquid during transport must be capable of containing the substance in its liquid state
  • Different dangerous goods may be combined in a single package, as long as they are compatible; inner packaging used and the quantity limits meet those specified by each applicable packing instruction; the outer packaging used is permitted by all applicable packing instructions; and the package meets the specification performance standards for the most restrictive packing group of dangerous good contained in the packaging. A Q-value calculation may be required.
  • For combination packages (inner and outer package)
    • Cushioning must be provided between the inner and outer packages
    • Liquids must be upright and orientation arrow labels or marks must be placed on two opposite sides of the outer package
  • Outer combination packages that have been tested with different types of inner packages may contain a variety of inner packages. If an equivalent level of performance is maintained, variations of inner packaging are permitted without further package testing, as described below:
    • Fewer inner packages can be used as long as sufficient cushioning is used to fill any voids
    • Inner packagings of equivalent or smaller size can be used as long as they are similar in shape and have the same or smaller openings and similar closures to the tested inner packagings; the material of construction offers equal resistance to impact/force; sufficient cushioning material is used to fill any voids; and the inner packagings are oriented in the same manner as in the tested package
  • Outer packages must not allow dangerous evolution of heat due to friction
  • Unless authorized in the DGR, venting of packages is not permitted (for example, venting is required for shipments of dry ice)
  • Each package must be large enough to accommodate all the required marks and labels
  • Packages that contain residues of dangerous goods remain fully regulated
  • Package integrity must be maintained if wet ice is used as a coolant
  • Packaging intended for liquids must undergo leak-proofness testing
  • Plastic drums and jerricans and rigid plastic intermediate bulk containers (IBC) and composite IBCs with plastic inner receptacles may not be used if more than five years old. The date of manufacture is marked on these packages.
  • Self-reactive materials and organic peroxides must be packaged in PGII specification packaging.


The class-specific general requirements applicable to each hazard class are found at the beginning of the packing instructions for each hazard class. For example, the general requirements for Class 1 Explosives are found in section 5.1 of the IATA DGR, immediately preceding packing instruction 101; the general requirements for Class 2 Gases are found in section 5.2, immediately preceding packing instruction 200; and the general requirements for Class 7 Radioactives are found in section 10.6.

In summary, when shipping dangerous goods, you must follow the general packing requirements, the hazard-specific general requirements, as well as the materials’ packing instructions that are referenced in columns G, I, and K of the IATA DGR list. Packages that do not meet the general packing requirements and/or the hazard-specific requirements may not be used to ship dangerous goods.