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8 October 2023

How to Get Trained and Certified on Dangerous Goods Transported by Air

More than 1.25 million consignments of dangerous goods are transported by air each year, and with air cargo quantities increasing, the number of dangerous goods being shipped will continue to increase. The importance of shipping and handling dangerous goods safely is of the utmost importance, and this requires dangerous goods training and certification.

What Are Dangerous Goods?


According to IATA's Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), "Dangerous goods are articles or substances which are capable of posing a hazard to health, safety, property or the environment when transported by air and which are shown in the list of dangerous goods in the IATA DGR or which are classified according to those regulations."

Determining whether goods are dangerous or not is crucial when shipping cargo by air. There is a detailed list of over 3,500 shipping names for various dangerous goods in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations as well as quite a few pages on how dangerous goods are classified.

What Are the DG Classes

Before you ship dangerous goods, you must first know the dangerous goods classes. There are nine classes of dangerous goods which are set by the United Nations (UN) that relate to the type of hazard presented by the goods.

The shipper is required to correctly declare according to the classification found in the IATA DGR. Every dangerous good will fall into one of the following dangerous goods classes:

  • Class 1—Explosives
  • Class 2—Gasses
  • Class 3—Flammable Liquids
  • Class 4—Flammable Solids; Substances Liable to Spontaneous Combustion; Substances which, in Contact with Water Emit Flammable Gasses
  • Class 5—Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
  • Class 6—Toxic and Infectious Substances
  • Class 7—Radioactive Material
  • Class 8—Corrosives
  • Class 9—Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances and Articles, Including Environmentally Hazardous Substances

It is common for a dangerous goods to be classified into two or more dangerous goods classes.

Packaging and Packing

Packaging is an essential component in the safe transport of dangerous goods. The packaging may be required to have been demonstrated to meet a performance standard, whereby the assembled package will be also to stand up to environmental and physical challenges that occur in air transport, such as differences in pressure and temperature; or when being handled.

The DGR also contain packing instructions, which detail how the dangerous goods and the packaging are put together, to create the package for air transport. So that people who are involved in handling the package, are aware of the hazard presented by the dangerous goods in the package, the package is required to be marked and labelled.

What Are Dangerous Goods Marks and Labels?


Marking and labeling of the dangerous goods package alerts different stakeholders and personnel about what is inside that package. This assists in the proper handling and storage of dangerous goods.

The marks will identify:

  • Whether the packaging meets UN testing standards.
  • The proper shipping name for the contents.
  • The consignor and consignee.

Hazard labels on the package will be whichever of the nine classes of dangerous goods relate to the contents.

The package will also have relevant handling labels, which assist employees in handling the package safely. Examples are orientation (this way up), keep away from heat, cryogenic liquids, magnetised materials and the Cargo Aircraft Only label.

You can also find more information regarding shipping dangerous goods in our article What You Need to Know About the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

Dangerous Goods Transportation - Roles and Responsibilities


Shipping dangerous goods from door to door requires many people to perform their part of the process safely and efficiently. Everyone involved, from the manufacturer of the goods, through to the pilot in command, requires taking dangerous goods classes and must meet the required regulations.


The chain of responsibility often starts with the manufacturer of the goods to be transported, who will often be required to produce a material safety data sheet (often known as an MSDS or SDS) which will set out if the goods meet thatcriteria to be classified as a dangerous good.


Certain procedures must be met for the transportation of dangerous goods by air, beginning with the shipper. This includes appropriately identifying the shipment as dangerous goods, filling out the shipper's Declaration of Dangerous Goods correctly, safely packing the goods in appropriate packaging, and properly marking and labeling the goods for shipping and handling.

Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarders must have proper dangerous goods training in order to perform their job functions safely. One of the most important functions performed by a freight forwarder is to screen incoming cargo for potentially hidden, leaking, or misdeclared dangerous goods; as well as assisting them to safely handle and store dangerous goods during their transport. 

The freight forwarding company is responsible for processing and transporting, and, in some cases, performing various checks and verifications on behalf of the shipper, so to ensure that the consignment will be received with no issue by the carrier.

Ground Handler

Many airlines and air cargo carriers will use the services of a ground handling agent to accept cargo and dangerous goods on their behalf. Dangerous goods certification is critical in safely handling dangerous goods on the ground and delivering them to the aircraft. The use of the Dangerous Goods Checklist will ensure the documentation complies with the detailed requirements outlined in the Dangerous Goods Regulations; such as verifying the documentation limits per package, marks, labels, shipping names, segregation of packaging, and that there is no damage to the packaging, or overpack.

Aircraft loading

Personnel involved in delivering the cargo and dangerous goods to the aircraft are required to be trained so that they are aware of the hazards presented by the cargo, ensure that it is properly inspected, loaded, secured and unloaded, and follow appropriate reporting procedures if there is an incident involving the dangerous goods.

Pilot in command

Once the dangerous goods are loaded safely on the aircraft, a Notification to Captain must be made. This document is sent to the pilot in command to inform them of the dangerous goods that are being transported on the aircraft and the appropriate measures to be taken if there is a problem in-flight.

Why Are Air Cargo Rules and Regulations Updated Annually?


IATA's Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) are based on the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) instructions for the safe transportation of dangerous goods by air and safe practices that have been identified by member airlines. IATA’s experience is that airline practices, State regulations, and other relevant laws change sufficiently frequently and are more restrictive than ICAO. In order to keep stakeholders up-to-date on the most current information, IATA updates its manual each year to ensure not only that the highest safety standards are followed, but that operational clarifications and improved safety standards can be implemented. Learn more here.

How to Get Dangerous Goods Certified


Certification of Dangerous Goods training helps to ensure that you and your team are well trained in preparing and handling dangerous goods. Dangerous goods training is required not only of each individual for all stakeholders involved in the process of shipping dangerous goods by air but also for those not carrying dangerous goods.

What's the Importance of Dangerous Goods Certification?

Safety is IATA's number one priority, especially when it comes to the transportation of dangerous goods and compliance to regulatory requirements. That is why dangerous goods training is required for each person who prepares, offers, accepts, and handles dangerous goods. Recurrent training is also mandatory and is required every 24 months to keep the certification valid.

Obtaining a dangerous goods certificate through competency-based training and assessment ensures that the highest standards in learning are met, and is relevant to the employee and the job functions that they are required to perform.

What Are the IATA Certificates?

Dangerous goods training is provided for many functions within the supply chain, such as Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) for Preparing DG Consignments and Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) for Flight Crew Members. For participants obtaining a grade of 80% or higher an IATA Certificate of Completion is awarded and a special distinction is awarded to those obtaining a grade of 90% or above.

In addition, to the dangerous goods training for specific job functions, IATA offers three courses to become certified as a Dangerous Goods Instructor and/or designer of a dangerous goods course of instruction:

How Are the Courses Given?

IATA offers a variety of dangerous goods training including classroom options, as well as virtual classroom courses. An in-house training alternative can be delivered to your location at your convenience for 8-10 or more attendees.

You can choose any existing course or request a customized version to obtain a dangerous goods certificate in the necessary areas. There are single and multiple course packages available, all leading to IATA Certificates and Diplomas.

What Is Involved In The Assesment?

IATA training uses assessment to encourage a higher level of competency in the four key areas: knowledge, skills, attitude, and experience. IATA Training assessment allows learners to showcase their knowledge, skills and capabilities garnered from the course material. The evaluation can include:

  • Formal outputs: where participants are required to submit tests and/or quizzes, written assignments and essays, projects, portfolios, and presentations.
  • Weighting: different grade elements are stated in the course outline.
  • Participation: for instructor-led courses, can be a contributing factor that can help the success for the final assessment and in achieving the certificate.
  • For courses in using the Dangerous Goods Regulations (including Lithium Batteries and Infectious Substances which are part of these regulations) , there is a stand-alone final assessment which has a pass mark of 80%”.

How Long Does the Dangerous Goods Certification Last?

The dangerous goods certification is valid for two years. IATA makes renewing the dangerous goods training easy by making courses readily available and producing yearly manuals allowing stakeholders to stay up-to-date on all rules and regulations.

Dangerous Goods Audit Certification Course


IATA offers training for Dangerous Goods for auditors and inspectors. This dangerous goods training shows you how to perform a dangerous goods audit by segmenting and analyzing each stage: the audit scope, objectives, follow-up, and closure. The course provides practical techniques for practicing the necessary skills and procedures required to be proficient in DG audits and inspections. This is a 5-day in-person classroom-based course.

Where to Find More Information


Obtaining your dangerous goods certificate has never been easier. IATA provides the tools you need to receive dangerous goods training allowing for the highest level of safety when dealing with hazardous material. IATA has worked diligently for more than 80 years to promote airline safety and has become a trusted resource in safety training by offering options such as dangerous goods classes and the easy-to-read Dangerous Goods Regulations. Get the latest edition of the manual to ensure you are up-to-date with the most current dangerous goods regulations. 

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