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Environmental Health and Safety

Shipping Biological Materials

Training must be provided or verified prior to any personnel transporting dangerous goods. Recurrent training must take place within 24 months of previous training to ensure knowledge is current. It is recommended to designate one individual in your lab to prepare the samples for shipment.

Shipping Training

The Biosafety Office offers an online training program for shipping the following materials:

  • Category A Infectious Substances
  • Category B Infectious Substances
  • Exempt Patient Specimens
  • Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Preservatives with Infectious Substances
  • Dry Ice

The training includes General Familiarization, Overview of Dangerous Goods Shipping and Classification of Infectious Substances. Then you will be able to select any other training modules to complete based on the type of samples you are shipping. Please allow sufficient time to complete all required training modules prior to the date you plan to prepare your shipment. 

For labs that do not have prior experience shipping samples, it is often preferable to complete the training relatively close to the time you will be preparing the shipment. We recommend contacting the Biosafety Office to complete the training about two or three weeks prior to the date you anticipate shipping your samples.


Procedure for Shipping Biological Materials Training

Please complete the following steps prior to shipping any of the biological materials listed above:

  1. Create a Saf-T-Pak training account before getting started. Register here.
  2. After creating your account, you will be able to log in to your account.
  3. Contact the Biosafety Officer to request a product key code, which you'll need to add to your account. This will give you access to take the training course. Email the Biosafety Officer for your code.
  4. Take the test and obtain a minimum score of 80% to verify your understanding of the regulations. Once the training has been completed you will receive a certificate of completion. Next, contact the Biosafety Officer to sign the training certificate. If possible, sign your certificate and then email a scanned copy to the Biosafety Officer. She will sign it and return the copy with her signature to you.
  5. The signed certificate should be maintained in the lab as your official record of training.

Additional Information for Shipping Infectious Materials

Both Category A and Category B packages require the name and telephone number of the person responsible for the shipment in case first responders need information about the material if an incident occurs. Expand each section below for additional information.

If you are shipping Category B infectious materials (UN 3373), a shipping document or a Shipper’s Declaration of Dangerous Goods (DGD) is not required. However, the name and telephone number of the person responsible for the shipment must be marked legibly on the exterior packaging. The individual must be someone who is familiar with the contents of the shipment. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) specifies that the telephone number must be answered during a company’s operational business hours. For USC, the telephone number must be answered Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Should an incident occur with a package containing an infectious substance, first responders must be able to reach the individual responsible for the package.

If you are shipping Category A infectious materials
(UN 2814 or UN 2900), a Shipper’s Declaration of Dangerous Goods (DGD) is required. The name and emergency telephone number of an individual or third-party who is available to be contacted 24 hours a day while the shipment is in transit is required to be listed on the DGD. The DOT requires that the emergency response telephone number listed on the DGD  be answered 24 hours/day, 7 days/week while the material is in transit.  If an emergency number is not answered when called, it can result in  compliance violations for the University. It is strongly recommended that you use a third-party agency such as CHEMTREC to provide 24/7 emergency response service. USC has a contract with CHEMTREC to provide emergency contact services for shipments requiring a DGD. CHEMTREC serves as a public service hotline for emergency responders to obtain information and assistance for emergency incidents involving chemicals, hazardous materials, and dangerous goods. Prior to shipping a Category A Infectious substance, you must contact the Biological Safety Officer for instructions and information on the requirements to use CHEMTREC as your emergency response contact.



If you have other questions regarding training or regulatory requirements, you can also contact Saf-T-Pak directly for assistance. Access additional information about Saf-T-Pak training.


Resources for Shipping Biological Materials

Training Requirements and Shipper’s Responsibilities [pdf]

Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods – Column Format (Fillable) [pdf]

Classification of Infectious Substances (IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations) [pdf]

Packing Instruction 650 (Applicable to UN 3373) [pdf]

Acceptance Checklist for Dry Ice (Carbon Dioxide, solid) [pdf]

Emergency Response Telephone Number (49 CFR 172.604) [pdf]

CDC Import Permit Program (IPP)

CDC Request to Import Biological Agents or Vectors of Human Disease

Department of Commerce: Bureau of Industry and Security (Export Administration)

USDA/APHIS: Animal, Animal Product, and Plant Import and Export Information

Understanding Materials of Trade (MOTs) [pdf]

Materials of Trade Exceptions (49 CFR 173.6) [pdf]

DOT Guide: Transporting Infectious Substances Safely [pdf]

World Courier (Specialized Courier to Manage Import/Export of Research Samples)


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