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What dangerous goods are

Dangerous goods are substances or articles with hazardous properties which, if not properly controlled during transport, present potential hazards to health, safety and the natural or built environment and anything in it.

Within international frameworks for managing hazardous substances, the term ‘dangerous goods’ refers to items that are potentially dangerous specifically during transportation and this term is used in New Zealand’s transport legislation.

How New Zealand’s dangerous goods regulatory system works

International and associated domestic regulatory frameworks have been established to ensure dangerous goods are transported safely and effectively. These are made up of:

  • the overarching international framework of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Model Regulations (UN Model Regulations), under which dangerous goods are classified and regulated at the highest level
  • international frameworks referencing the UN Model Regulations, regulating transport of dangerous goods in the aviation and maritime sectors
  • domestic transport frameworks comprising legislation covering air, sea, land and rail transport — these include Acts, dedicated rules containing much of the detail for regulating dangerous goods, and regulations which include offences and penalties.

The Dangerous Goods Regulatory System Map describes the components of our regulatory system for managing dangerous goods across the transport system. The map outlines the key components of the system and helps identify possible issues, overlaps, gaps and risks. However, the map is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to dangerous goods requirements for industry operators.

Dangerous Goods Regulatory System Map  [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Agencies responsible for regulating dangerous goods

Each mode of transport — aviation, maritime and land, including rail — has its own regulatory framework for managing the transport of dangerous goods in New Zealand. This includes primary legislation, regulations and dedicated rules.  The following transport regulatory agencies regulate transport of dangerous goods under these modal frameworks.

Civil Aviation Authority

Some dangerous goods can be carried safely by air, if they are packed and transported in a specific way. Other articles and substances are prohibited on aircraft due to the risk they pose. Airlines may refuse to carry them or impose their own additional requirements.

Transporting dangerous goods(external link)

Maritime New Zealand

Maritime rules set out how dangerous goods can be transported at sea. The requirements are in place to protect the lives of seafarers and passengers, the safety of vessels and the marine environment.

Cargo and carriage — dangerous goods(external link)

Maritime Rules 24A: carriage of cargoes — dangerous goods(external link)

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Land Transport Rules, administered by Waka Kotahi, set out how dangerous goods can be safely transported by land.

Transporting dangerous or hazardous goods(external link)

The Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005 sets requirements for the safe transport of dangerous goods by land.

Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005(external link)

Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005 – questions and answers(external link)

Amendments to this Rule were made in 2010 and 2011.

Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods Amendment 2010 – questions and answers(external link)

Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods Amendment 2011 – questions and answers(external link)

New Zealand Standard 5433:2012 provides detailed technical information to meet the requirements of Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005. There are 2 parts to the standard that apply to transporting dangerous goods on land, excluding radioactive materials, that cover technical requirements such as classification criteria, packaging and what qualifies as a dangerous good.

NZS 5433:2020 – Transport of dangerous goods on land(external link)

Transporting dangerous goods safely – an industry guide

We published a guide in 2008 focused on technical information for shippers and the transport industry. As various details are now out of date, operators should make direct contact with the relevant regulatory agencies for the latest information.

Transporting Dangerous Goods Safely - An industry guide [PDF, 840 KB]