how to transport dangerous goods header image, with truck, plane and class tiles

Guide to transporting dangerous goods (2023)


Written by Starshipit

Are you transporting dangerous goods? If your business is shipping anything deemed hazardous by the Australian Government, you’ll need to adhere to a strict set of rules and regulations. Don’t worry – this guide will cover everything you need to know about shipping dangerous goods.

On this page, learn the different types of dangerous goods, how the Australian classification system works and how you can ship dangerous goods safely within Australia.

Note: The content on this page is guidance only. Speak to your courier and refer to the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information.

three dangerous goods tiles: corrosive, oxidizer and explosive

What are dangerous goods?

Dangerous goods are substances that are hazardous, meaning they have properties which could pose a risk to people, property or the environment. For example, this could mean they’re flammable, poisonous, toxic or combustible. Even items like perfume and electronic equipment can be classed as dangerous goods.

In Australia, the Australian Dangerous Goods Code sets out the classifications and divisions of dangerous goods (which we’ll go over below).

As you can probably imagine, there are tight controls on transporting dangerous goods, which makes sticking to the rules even more important for the safety of the public, your couriers and your business.

Classes of dangerous goods and examples

There are 9 classes of dangerous goods in Australia, along with several sub-classifications. It’s a good idea to keep these classifications in mind as the type of classification will change how you pack, label and ship it.

Here are all the classes and sub-classes relevant to shipping.

Common items that may include dangerous goods

You may be thinking – it's all very well to have a list of every type of dangerous good, but most retailers aren't shipping plutonium or barrels of oil. Fair point! But many common items include dangerous goods, which in turn means you need to pay more attention to how to transport them.

Here are some common items that include dangerous goods:

Auto parts
Camping gear
Cigarette lighters and vape equipment
Computer equipment
Dental equipment
Electrical and electronic equipment
Frozen food
Household goods
Machinery parts
Office supplies
Photographic supplies
Rechargeable tools
Geoff from Starshipit

Hear from Starshipit's in-house expert

"Transporting dangerous goods may seem daunting a first – but it's not. Take the time to set things up properly first, have the right information, stickers and processes and it will just become a seamless part of your operation" – Geoff Luyk, Head of Customer Success.

How to transport dangerous goods

Unlike a regular piece of freight, dangerous goods come with their own requirements depending on the class of dangerous good being shipped.

Read on to learn how to ship dangerous goods safely.

How do you ship dangerous goods safely?

Segregate dangerous goods

Whenever you transport dangerous goods, it’s important to keep them separate as contact between different types of goods can result in dangerous reactions like explosions or the release of toxic fumes. Usually, separate containers are enough, but some dangerous goods will need to be transported in entirely different vehicles.

WorkSafe Queensland has a useful dangerous goods segregation tool which you can access here.

Segregation tool

Make sure you have the right documentation

Whenever you transport dangerous goods, you need the correct documentation. This documentation typically will contain the consignor details (name and phone number), and a description of the goods being shipped. Some states in Australia also have no-go transport zones, meaning you’re unable to transport dangerous goods through these areas. While much of this will fall on your courier, it’s a good idea for you to keep these details in mind.

Check with your local authority for the most up-to-date documentation, but here’s an example of a transport document.

Transport document

Understand storage temperatures and flash points

Certain dangerous goods need to be kept below certain temperatures to prevent dangerous reactions from occurring. Likewise, you need to understand flammable goods and their flashpoints to avoid either fires or explosions. What is a flash point? It’s the lowest temperature where there’s enough flammable vapor to cause ignition (when an ignition source is applied).

This comprehensive document from the National Transport Commission (NTC) outlines the different considerations with regards to storage temperatures and flash points.

NTC guide

Pick the right courier

Only certain couriers in Australia can transport dangerous goods. What’s more, these couriers can only transport a limited selection of dangerous goods, and only if they meet packing requirements. For example, you can only transport a certain number of lithium batteries.

There are additional restrictions on sending dangerous goods domestically versus internationally, but these requirements differ depending on the courier.

Here are some of the major couriers in Australia that can transport dangerous goods, as well as links to their lists of goods:

Note: Check your courier websites for the latest versions of these guides.


How much does it cost to ship dangerous goods?

Depending on what type of dangerous goods you’re transporting, the cost can vary significantly. For example, shipping an electronic product containing two lithium batteries within one city will cost far less than sending 20 litres of paint across state lines.

Why does it cost more to ship dangerous goods? Well, shipping dangerous goods requires special transport and handling services on behalf of the courier. These charges get added to the shipping costs.

As you’ll learn below, you can simplify shipping costs for both you and your customers when you use shipping automation.

Use shipping automation to simplify dangerous goods

Managing a large volume of shipments isn’t easy at the best of times, and dangerous goods only make things more complicated. Things can get especially tricky when you need to manage orders where some contain dangerous goods (and hence require specific couriers), and some do not.

Shipping and fulfilment automation solves this problem in several ways:

  • You have a central dashboard which is plugged into your warehouse management or eCommerce system. You can then manage your orders from one dashboard.
  • You can integrate your different couriers (including those that support dangerous goods).
  • You can create automation rules (logic) to assign orders containing dangerous goods to those couriers able to transport them.
Starshipit dashboard with courier costs

Use Starshipit to transport dangerous goods

There are many shipping and fulfilment platforms available on the market today, but few feature such rich support for dangerous goods as Starshipit. With Starshipit, you can easily manage your entire shipping operation from one dashboard, without needing any other shipping tools or manual processes for dangerous goods.

Starshipit is the best shipping solution for transporting dangerous goods, supporting the widest range of dangerous goods on the market.

As of 2023, Starshipit supports sending dangerous goods with both DHL and Australia Post. Check out the support guides for more detailed information or get in touch with one of our team to discuss your specific requirements around transporting dangerous goods.

How to manage costs when shipping dangerous goods

Shipping dangerous goods can be expensive. With Starshipit, you have complete control over your shipping pricing strategy. You've got a few options when it comes to managing the cost of transporting dangerous goods:

  • Set your own checkout rates: Regardless of what the courier cost is, set your own shipping rates.
  • Offer free shipping: You might want to provide free shipping if the cart value is over a certain amount.

How to create rules for dangerous goods

We touched earlier about how you can use Starshipit to create automations for dangerous goods. Here’s how it works in practice.

Classify orders containing dangerous goods

It’s important to create rules to classify orders containing dangerous goods. This is quite simple:

  • Select Add a new rule
  • Select Condition(s) > Item SKU > (Enter the SKUs of your dangerous goods items)
  • Select Action > Set dangerous goods type Or Select Action > Set Contain Battery
  • Click Save

Remove unsupported couriers at checkout

Some couriers won’t transport dangerous goods (for example flammable items or products that include batteries). Using Starshipit, you can create a rule to remove these couriers from the checkout if the cart contains a dangerous item.

  • Select Add a new rule
  • Select Condition(s) > Item SKU > (Enter the SKUs of your dangerous goods items)
  • Select Action > Set Carriers for Checkout
  • Select the couriers you’d like to display in your checkout
  • Click Save

You can create a variety of different rules to create a dangerous goods shipping process that works for you. For example, you might want to add a tag to flag orders containing dangerous goods to your warehouse staff.

Wrap-up: Simplify shipping dangerous goods

While it’s true that shipping dangerous goods involves a fair amount more admin than shipping your typical parcel, it’s not impossible. What’s more, it's a process that can be made much easier when you use shipping automation.

As we saw, shipping automation tools (like Starshipit) allow you to integrate the couriers you’ll use to ship dangerous goods, then create custom automations to assign orders containing dangerous goods to those couriers. This cuts back on the potential for human error (orders going out with the wrong couriers) and allows you to control the costs in a way that works for you. Oh, and you’ve got complete control over your shipping costs.

To learn more about transporting dangerous goods, get in touch with the team at Starshipit – we’re always keen to talk shipping!

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