Infectious Agent Shipping and Transport Policy



Infectious Agent Shipping and Transport Policy

Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations require that UCSF laboratory personnel be trained to properly package and ship any biohazardous samples used in research. In addition, non-hazardous biological materials must also be properly packaged to avoid loss or spill during transport.


Shipping is defined as preparing a package to be carried by a commercial transport vendor such as Federal Express, DHL, World Courier, or other international carriers.  It also refers to preparing diagnostic samples for transport by a courier not employed by the laboratory doing the packaging, for example a courier from a reference laboratory.

Transport is defined as preparing a package to be taken from one laboratory to another by laboratory personnel who understand the hazards or characteristics of the package contents. This can be within one campus site, or between sites using the Intercampus Shuttle system.


Anyone who prepares a package of biological material for shipping, with or without dry ice, must complete the OEH&S online course “Safe Shipping of Biohazards” every two years and obtain their certificate of training.  Anyone planning to transport human blood and other specimens potentially containing bloodborne pathogens must also complete the OEH&S online course “The California Bloodborne Pathogen Standard”.  The courses are available at the UC Learning Center website.


Whenever packaging, and especially when receiving infectious agent samples, wear a disposable gloves, lab coat, safety glasses or goggles and mask, or a face shield, as splashing may occur in handling specimens.  If possible always open a package in a biosafety cabinet, so any spilled contents are safely contained.


Shipping and transport packaging requirements are fairly similar, but shipping requirements are stricter.  Follow IATA packing instructions (PI) 602 or 650 and 904 if using dry ice, whenever a commercial carrier is used for transporting biohazardous materials.  The online training provides details; use the diagram below for general guidance.

Label for PI620                   Label for PI650                     Label for PI954

For Category A                   For Category B                          For Dry Ice

For information regarding domestic or international shipment of biological samples, including import and export permit requirements, contact your Environment, Health and Safety Specialist (EHS Specialist) directly or a Biosafety Officer at 476-1300.

Posted: 02/2009