“Dangerous Goods in Articles:” The Proper Shipping Name is ALMOST Ready to Be Used in the United States

I was looking at the list of major changes for next year’s IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. I noticed that the major changes include expanded reliance on the new proper shipping name “Dangerous Goods in Articles.”

As a reminder, Hazmat shippers in the United States should NOT YET be using the proper shipping name “Dangerous Goods in Articles.”

This is a technical variance in what the law allows, but current use of the term in the United States as if it were a hazmat proper shipping name is not permitted, and could become the subject of an enforcement action.

The way that U.S. hazmat regulations work, is that you need to comply with the US regulations, for example, when you choose a proper shipping name for your package, it must be an authorized name. Right now, “Dangerous Goods in Articles” is not an authorized proper shipping name under U.S. law.

You are permitted to rely on the ICAO Technical Instructions when shipping things by air (except where prohibited). When US law permits reliance on an alternative source, that source must typically be incorporated by reference in the U.S. legal structure, which means that typically a specific edition or revision must be referenced. The specific edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions that is currently incorporated by reference is the 2019-2020 edition, which is incorporated at 49 C.F.R. § 171.7.

In the 2021-2022 revision, ICAO published a proper shipping name that will be quite useful to the aviation community: “Dangerous Goods in Articles.” The problem is that IATA immediately included this in the 2021 IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, but the United States did not immediately incorporate the new ICAO edition by reference.

It is worthwhile to remind the reader that despite bearing the name “regulations” in the title, the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations are not actually regulations. They reflect a ‘field manual’ for compliance, and they are based on the ICAO Technical Instructions.

The United States regulations still reference the 2019-2020 edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions as the edition that is currently permitted to be used for compliance.

The United States is taking steps to incorporate by reference the 2021-2022 edition (which includes the new term). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will accomplish this was published on August 10, 2021. If you have a comment to share, then you may wish to submit it to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The proposed rule is open for comments through October 12, 2021.

As far as timing goes, there is a good chance that the final rule incorporating by reference the 2021-2022 ICAO Technical Instructions will be published by the end of 2021. And when it is, we should be authorized to use “Dangerous Goods in Articles” when shipping by air. That same U.S. rule making project is also expected to add “Dangerous Goods in Articles” to the United States’ list of proper shipping names in the hazardous materials table (permitting more general use of the term). But that step hasn’t been taken yet.

So please, be patient and wait. The new proper shipping name is coming!

Looking for more hazmat compliance advice? We will be teaching a live, online, hazmat class for shippers of aviation goods next month (October 6-7). See our hazmat training webpage for more details!

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

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