How to Verify the UN Certification of Dangerous Goods Packaging

The transportation of dangerous goods is a critical aspect of logistics, and it requires strict adherence to safety regulations. The United Nations (UN) has established standards for the safe transport of dangerous goods, known as the UN Model Regulations. These regulations ensure that dangerous goods are properly classified, packaged, labelled, and handled during transportation.

One essential aspect of the UN Model Regulations is the certification of packaging used for dangerous goods. This certification process involves verifying that the packaging meets all requirements and can safely contain and transport dangerous goods.

Why UN Certification Matters

Safety is paramount when transporting hazardous goods. The UN certification ensures that packaging is rigorously tested following international standards to withstand the toughest conditions during transportation.

For you as a logistics professional, this is essentially a seal of approval that can mean the difference between a smooth shipment and potential disasters involving leaks, fires, or other hazards.

The UN certification process involves performance tests and quality checks, including drop tests, stacking tests, and tests related to its resistance to internal pressure and impact. The standards are high, and rightfully so—safety standards must match the level of risk associated with the dangerous goods being transported.

If you’re not already acquainted with the markings and the UN’s certification system, check out our primer on the UN’s role in dangerous goods logistics.

The UN Certification Marking and its Components

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of verification, it’s important to understand the UN certification marking itself. This marking is a series of letters, numbers, and symbols that indicate several key pieces of information:

  • The UN Packaging Code starts with the letters ‘UN’ followed by a series of numbers and letters that provide information about the type of packaging, the material used, and the specific construction requirements.
  • The symbol of the country that has granted the type approval.
  • The packaging manufacturer’s symbol or name is registered specifically for that purpose.
  • The month and year the packaging was manufactured.

Step-by-Step UN Certification Verification

1. Identify the UN Packaging Code

The first step to verifying a UN certification is to locate and understand the UN packaging code on the packaging. This will usually be a series of letters and numbers printed on the packaging itself. It’s crucial to understand what this code signifies.

  • The first digit after ‘UN’ represents the type of packaging.
  • The following letters refer to the material used to construct the packaging.
  • The next digits provide information on the packaging’s performance level, measured through various tests.
  • The final letter, if present, denotes any specific groups or special provisions.

2. Check the UN’s List of Certified Packaging

Once you have the UN packaging code, go to the UN’s official list of certified packaging manufacturers. It’s a published list that is updated regularly and includes the names of manufacturers who have demonstrated compliance with the UN’s packaging standards.

You can find this list on the UN’s website or the national authority responsible for regulatory control of dangerous goods packaging. Look for the manufacturer’s name or symbol and ensure that it matches the one on your packaging and that it’s currently certified.

Verification of UN certification ensures the packaging you are using is up to the mark and is the final step in guaranteeing the safe transport of hazardous materials. For those involved in the complex and high-stakes world of logistics, the attention to detail required by the UN’s certification process can be the difference-maker in some potential logistical hurdles.

3. Conduct a Physical Inspection of the Packaging

After confirming the manufacturer’s certification status, perform a thorough physical inspection of the packaging. Check for any visible damages, defects, or signs of tampering that could compromise the safety of the contents during transportation.

Make sure all seals are intact and that the packaging, such as UN certified boxes,  conforms exactly to the specifications outlined for its UN certification. This step is critical to ensure that the certification’s standards are maintained in the packaging’s actual condition.

4. Verify the Packaging’s Test Reports

Obtain and review the test reports for the specific batch of packaging you are using. These reports should detail the results of the performance tests specified in the UN certification, such as drop tests, leakproofness tests, and pressure tests.

Verify that the packaging passed all required tests and that the test reports are current and relevant to the batch of packaging in use.

5. Consult with a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA)

If there are any doubts or complexities in verifying the UN certification or if the goods being transported are particularly hazardous, consulting with a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA) can provide expert guidance. A DGSA can assist in interpreting the UN certification requirements and ensuring that your packaging and transportation practices meet all safety regulations.

6. Document Your Verification Process

Finally, document each step of your verification process, including the results of your packaging code analysis, the physical inspection findings, the test reports review, and any consultations with a DGSA.

Keeping detailed records will not only help ensure compliance with regulations but also provide a defence in case of any disputes or inspections by regulatory authorities. This documentation should be stored securely and remain accessible for the recommended duration as specified by your regulatory body.


Now that you know the importance of UN certification and how to verify it, you can confidently assess and use dangerous goods packaging in your day-to-day operations. Remember, there’s no room for ambiguity when it comes to dangerous goods—verification is key to smooth operations and utmost safety. The next time you’re handling dangerous goods, make sure to verify that UN certification before shipping them off.

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