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‘Dangerous Goods’ refers to items that are potentially dangerous during transportation.

They include a wide range of solids, liquids and gases that have explosive, flammable, toxic, infectious, radioactive, corrosive or environmentally hazardous properties. Dangerous goods have special transport requirements to eliminate or minimise the risk of injuring people or damaging property and the environment.

Requirements for air, rail, road and sea are not the same. Similarly, the requirements of one country may not necessarily be the same as another. This document identifies some of the differences and is intended as a guide for consignors (shippers) and the transport industry.

This guide will also help manufacturers, packers, consignors and transport operators understand the requirements when transporting dangerous goods by more than one mode. This is particularly important in New Zealand where many goods have to travel by more than one mode, e.g. transport between the North and South Islands involves land transport and either air or sea transport.

This document was compiled by the Ministry of Transport, with the assistance of Phillip Tse of Chemie-Tech Ltd. Words or terms that are capitalised in this guide have defined meanings within certain codes and regulations.

An electronic copy of this document can be downloaded from the Ministry of Transport’s website link)


This guide deals primarily with the multi-modal transport requirements for packaged (non-bulk1) dangerous goods, Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), large packages and portable tanks. The transport of explosives and radioactive materials has special requirements and is not dealt with specifically in this guide.

In this edition

This edition contains a section on export, including details on the revised Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7). It also takes into account the IMDG Code, 2006 edition, and the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations 49th Edition. Both of these documents became effective on 1 January 2008.

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 is now fully in force. This guide discusses the effects of this legislation on the transport industry.


This guide is an overview and is not intended as a substitute for the formal acts, regulations, rules, codes and standards to which it refers. While this guide reflects these legal requirements at the time of writing (August 2008), it must not be relied upon to fulfil legal obligations. 

Terminology and usage

‘Code’ includes the relevant act, regulation or transport rule.

In previous versions of the guide, ‘Class’ was used to describe both the UN Class (e.g. Class 6) and Division (e.g. Division 6.1 of Class 6). While this may not be strictly accurate, it makes for easier reading. However, as some requirements only apply to a specific Division within a Class, we have, where appropriate, specified a Division rather than the Class.

Other terms are listed in the Glossary of Terms at the end of the document.

For land transport, the term ‘Dangerous Goods’ replaced the previously used term of ‘Hazardous Substances’, with the introduction of the Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 1999. This rule has now been updated and replaced by Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005 with effect from 27 June 2005.

Dangerous goods for transport are a subset of hazardous substances as defined in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, for explosive, flammable, oxidiser, toxic, corrosive and ecotoxic (environmentally hazardous) properties. For example, substances classified as HSNO 3.1D (low hazard flammable liquids that are classified as combustible liquids) are not flammable liquids for transport. In addition dangerous goods for transport include radioactive material and infectious substances (HSNO does not regulate radioactive and infectious substances).

  1. Bulk means more than 450 litres for liquids or 400 kg for solids in a single container or package. For gases, bulk means more than 450 litres of water capacity. Pressure equipment must comply with the Health and Safety in Employment (Pressure Equipment, Cranes and Passenger Ropeways) Regulations 1999.


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