Transportation of Hazardous Materials in Canada, the US and Mexico
What is a hazardous material?
According to the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management, a hazardous material (HAZMAT) is any item or agent which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors; the aforementioned item or agent could be biological, chemical, radiological, and/or physical.
Transportation of hazardous materials in North America
Hazmat transportation is subject to the Hazardous Materials Regulations, which are closely aligned across North American countries. However, there are some important differences in regulatory requirements that manufacturers, shippers, and carriers should be aware of.
- In Canada, the transportation of dangerous goods is regulated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, (“TDGA”) and applicable regulations.
- In the United States, it is regulated by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 (“49 CFR”).
- In Mexico, the Mexican Secretariat for Communications and Transport (SCT) is responsible for publishing and maintaining the Official Mexican Standards (NOMs) that regulate the land transportation of hazardous materials and wastes in Mexico.
Transporting HAZMAT goods between Canada and the US
To obtain information about land transportation of hazardous goods between Canada and the USA, the Government of Canada has created the following document:
Transporting HAZMAT goods between the US and Mexico
To obtain guidance transporting hazardous materials form the US to Mexico, visit the following link: https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/international-program/mexican-standards-and-guidance
What information do I need to provide when requesting a quote for the transportation of hazmat goods?
When requesting a quote for international transportation of HAZMAT goods between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, provide to your freight transport provider with the following information:
- UN Number (Identification number)
- Hazard class
- Shipping name
1- What is the UN Number?
The UN Number is one of the mechanisms developed by the United Nations for the harmonization of hazard classification. It consists of a four-digit number used in international transportation to identify hazardous goods.
2- Hazard class
According to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations “The consignor is responsible for determining the classification of dangerous goods. This activity is normally done by, or in consultation with, a person who understands the nature of the dangerous goods such as a manufacturer, a person who formulates, blends or otherwise prepares mixtures or solutions of goods or, in the case of infectious substances, a doctor, scientist, veterinarian, epidemiologist, genetic engineer, microbiologist, pathologist, nurse, coroner or laboratory technologist or technician”.
The US DOT divides hazardous materials into 9 major hazard classes:
- Class 1, Explosives
- Class 2 Gases
- Class 3 Flammable Liquids
- Class 4 Flammable Solids; Substances Liable to Spontaneous Combustion; Substances That on Contact with Water Emit Flammable Gases (Water-reactive Substances)
- Class 5 Oxidizing Substances, including Organic Peroxides
- Class 6 Toxic and Infectious Substances
- Class 7 Radioactive Materials
- Class 8 Corrosive Substances
- Class 9 Miscellaneous Products, Substances or Organisms
3- Shipping name
The shipping name is the name of the dangerous good that most specifically corresponds to the material to be shipped. For more information on shipping names, you can consult the Dangerous goods list offered by the United Nations.
Do you need to ship hazmat goods from Canada or the US to Mexico?