Transporting healthcare products by air demands a rigorous logistical approach. If mishandled, the intactness of these products can be compromised by temperature changes during transportation.
With the pharmaceutical industry moving over one trillion dollars worth of cargo every year, upholding a shipment’s quality requires specific equipment, storage facilities, harmonized handling procedures and, above all, strong cooperation among the cold chain partners.
Guidance for Vaccine and Pharmaceutical Logistics & Distribution (5th ed.)
IATA collaborates with leading authorities and organizations to facilitate full preparedness for COVID-19 vaccines transportation. This document summarizes the considerations to be taken into account for large-scale handling, air transport and distribution of vaccines.
Temperature Control Regulations (TCR)
The IATA Temperature Control Regulations (TCR) addresses temperature management issues identified by the industry. This manual provides the requirements and standards for the transportation and handling of pharmaceutical products, including the compulsory use of the Time and Temperature Sensitive Label.
The 11th edition of the Regulations will come into effect on 1 January 2023.
COVID-19 & 2021 UPDATES: IATA Manuals include all necessary information about new regulations taking effect as of 2021 as well as COVID-19 changes made to the regulations and how they impact shipping and cargo operations. Learn more
Time & Temperature Sensitive Label
Mandatory from July 2012, the IATA Time and Temperature Sensitive Label is a shipment label specific for the healthcare industry. It must be affixed to all shipments booked as time and temperature sensitive cargo and indicate the external transportation temperature range of the shipment.
It is the responsibility of the shipper (or designated shipper’s agent by service agreement) to ensure that the label is applied properly for time and temperature sensitive healthcare cargo shipments booked as such.
- Download the Time & Temperature Label FAQ (pdf)
- Time & Temperature labels (zip)
Acceptance Checklist for time and temperature-sensitive shipments
The purpose of the IATA Standard Acceptance Checklist is to inform airlines and ground-handling agents of the minimum checks to execute in temperature sensitive healthcare shipments. That ensures that the process meets all the requirements established by the TCR.
Since July 2013, this Acceptance Checklist is a requisite for the transportation of time and temperature-sensitive healthcare shipments. See IATA notice (pdf).
- IATA Acceptance Checklist for Time and Temperature Sensitive Healthcare Shipments. This document is available in English (pdf) French (pdf) and Spanish (pdf)
- Download the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Time & Temperature Acceptance Checklist (pdf)
Healthcare Cargo Working Group
The Healthcare Cargo Working Group (HCWG) is a subgroup of the Live Animals and Perishables Board (LAPB). The objective of the HCWG is to provide recommendations to the LAPB on the development of healthcare cargo transportation and handling standards. These recommendations include:
- Propose new, or amendments to existing IATA Industry Standards, Resolutions (including the Temperature Control Regulations), Recommended Practices, and guidance material on effective handling and transportation techniques to ensure the quality and the integrity of healthcare cargo.
- Propose training that relates to the above.
- Report regulatory developments affecting the handling and transportation of healthcare cargo.
- Develop and promote sustainable practices aligned to the IATA sustainability framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
- Trend report - transport of special cargo by air (pdf)
- Webinar | Special cargo transported by air | Market outlook and regulation changes (pdf) (Recording)
- Tips on how to handle temperature-controlled goods to maintain product integrity
With the growing usage of cargo tracking devices and temperature data loggers and the shifting from button cell batteries to lithium batteries for powering these devices, IATA has prepared a guidance document that addresses the use and carriage of these lithium battery-powered devices. The guidance document has been revised following the adoption of an exception from the application of the lithium battery mark on packages containing COVID-19 vaccines. This guidance document also provides information to manufacturers, users and operators on the conditions of carriage of such active devices in the aircraft cargo compartment.
Download the Guidance Document – Battery Powered Cargo Tracking Devices / Data Loggers (pdf)
CEIV Pharmaceutical Logistics
Air cargo’s share of the global pharma product transport has declined in the past. This reduction in market share is due to a lack of compliance, standardization, accountability and transparency across the air transport supply chain.
IATA created a Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) in Pharmaceutical Logistics with the aim of helping the industry to improve the transport and handling of these products to meet the requirements of shippers and manufacturers.