Dangerous goods

Shipment of dangerous goods!

In our highly industrialised society, dangerous goods are often used and, of course, shipped. It is important to protect the life and health of people and animals during transports and to avert danger to public safety and order.

The term “dangerous” or “hazardous goods” denotes all substances and objects which can present a danger to human beings and the environment during transport. Substances of this kind may have the following properties: they are irritant, corrosive, toxic, chronically damaging, mutagenic, inflammatory, explosive, flammable, carcinogenic or harmful to the environment. They may not be transported, only in specific quantities or only in specific containers.

Which substances and objects are to be considered dangerous is defined, for example, in the Chemicals Act and the Hazardous Goods Ordinance. The dangerous goods regulations list about 3,000 dangerous goods or groups of substances, the precise name of the transport and the UN number of the product to be shipped.

“Safety and responsibility in dangerous goods transports”

Dangerous goods legislation distinguishes between nine classes which are subdivided into 13 divisions. The following are shipped most frequently:

    • Class 1: substances and objects containing explosives, e.g. New Year’s Eve fireworks
    • Class 2: compressed, liquefied or dissolved gases, e.g. aerosol tins
    • Class 3: flammable liquids, e.g. alcohol, petrol and perfume
    • Class 5.1: oxidising substances, e.g. gardening chemicals (fertilisers, herbicides)

    • Class 6.1: toxic substances, e.g. pesticides
    • Class 8: corrosive substances, e.g. detergents, bases and acids
    • Class 9: various hazardous substances and objects, e.g. airbags


Therefore an international body of rules was created for the shipment of dangerous goods which basically ensures the safe transport of these sensitive materials. The regulations are constantly checked and updated according to the latest insights of science and technology. The regulations are announced in the German Federal Law Gazettes I and II and supplemented by announcements in the German Transport Gazette (Verkehrsblatt) as required.

In the course of 2001 the dangerous goods regulations of various modes of transport were introduced in a restructured form. They are now presented in a more comprehensible way and better coordinated with each other. Every other year they are adjusted to current developments. 

More information is available on the website of the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVBS):