Biological Materials Shipping Guidelines

Shipments of certain biological materials are regulated domestically by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), if sent internationally.  Any students or University employees involved in packaging materials, preparing samples for shipping, handling such packages, preparing related paperwork, or signing to authorize shipments must undergo specific training and maintain records of this training (i.e; by printing a copy of your training certificate from RASCAL).

There are 4 basic classifications for shipments of biological materials:

  • Non-regulated biological material
  • Exempt Human or Animal Specimens
  • Biological Substance, Category B
  • Biological Substance, Category A

Additional information on classification is provided in this DOT brochure.
Following the completion of appropriate training, University personnel can be qualified to prepare and ship packages containing exempt specimens or category B substances.  Prior to initiating any shipment of a Category A Biological Substance, an “Intent to Ship” form must be completed and submitted to EH&S.  After review, EH&S will advise of additional procedures and requirements that apply to your shipment.

International shipments also require a commercial invoice. A commercial invoice template is available. Please contact EH&S well in advance of shipping internationally for help completing this invoice and to determine whether export/import permits are required.

EH&S is available for technical consultation throughout this process regardless of shipment type or class.

Inter-campus transport by investigators is permitted for specific classifications of biological materials. Refer to section 12 of the Biological Materials Shipping Manual.

  • If your shipment contains a material indicative of a Category A Biological Substance , please contact EH&S for further instruction or submit the intent to ship form .
  • If your shipment is an exempt specimen for which, based on professional judgment, there is minimal likelihood that a pathogen is present, you must first complete the RASCAL training module TC0076 “Dry Ice and Exempt Specimens Training” prior to shipment
  • If your shipment is a Genetically Modified Microorganism or Category B Biological Substance, you must complete the RASCAL training module TC0507 “Shipping Category B and Genetically Modified Microorganism Training” prior to shipment.
  • Please note that “Diagnostic Specimen" and "Clinical Specimen” are no longer valid shipping names and should not be written on any shipping materials. 

Refer to the definitions page for more information on the above used terms. For assistance in classifying biological material and instructions for shipment please see the biological materials shipping flow chart.