Many laboratories and clinics have collaborations at Rutgers that involve the movement of biological materials. Working in a research animal facility will also often require bringing cultures or chemicals to administer to animals. The most commonly transported materials are microbial cultures, toxins, pharmaceuticals, viral vectors, human cells, blood, and other materials. Also, many persons may need to transport dry ice.

IATA training is required before shipping Dangerous Goods and other regulated materials. If any transport will involve the need to transfer materials through city streets or in a personal vehicle, REHS must be contacted beforehand, as there may be additional trainings and requirements. Rutgers personnel are not permitted to transport certain materials in vehicles (e.g., Category A Infectious Substances). Please contact for more details.

Planning shipments: Plan ahead, and allow at least 2 business days to request assistance from Contact Rutgers Export Control for clearance if shipping outside of the US.

There are 5 basic types of biological shipments:

  • Biological Substance, Category A: regulated by IATA as a Dangerous Good
  • Biological Substance, Category B: regulated by IATA as a Dangerous Good
  • Genetically modified organisms/microorganisms: regulated by IATA as a Dangerous Good
  • Exempt Human/Animal Specimens
  • Non-regulated biological materials
Types of Biological Shipments

Types of Biological Shipments

Category A (UN2814/2900) An infectious substance that is transported in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals. Refer to the Category A list of examples.
Category B (UN3373) An infectious substance that does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A (e.g., most BSL2/BSL2 enhanced materials). This can be human, animal, bacterial, viral, or fungal material transported for research, diagnosis, disease, or treatment.
Genetically Modified Organisms/Microorganisms (UN3245)

Biological material that does not meet the requirements of Category B. E.g., Viable transgenic plants and seeds, recombinant C. elegans, E. coli, zebrafish embryos.

Contact CMR for guidance on shipping live transgenic animals

Exempt Human/Animal Specimens

Clinical and animal specimens for which there is NOT a likelihood that pathogens are present (i.e., not known/suspected to be infected).

Note: Requires appropriate labeling and packaging!

Non-regulated biological material

Non-infectious bacteria/yeast/fungi, plasmids, extracted DNA/RNA from non-pathogenic microorganisms, synthetic nucleic acids, purified/extracted proteins.

Note: contact for the following types of materials.

  • Genes encoding biological toxins
  • Select agent genetic material
  • Extracted RNA that may contain full genome of + sense RNA viruses
Other Regulated Materials

Other Regulated Materials

Dry Ice (UN1845) with biological specimens Biological specimens are shipped with Dry Ice (frozen carbon dioxide) that sublimates into gas.
Chemical Preservatives with biological specimens Biological specimens containing chemical preservatives such as ethanol, formaldehyde, or formalin. Depending on quantities and concentrations – may be regulated as Excepted Quantities.

The flow chart below is a guide for classifying biological materials shipments and is not meant to replace the need for Shipping Training.

Flowchart for Classification

Type of Transport Training Course Name Training Delivery Training Frequency
Hand carry
(e.g., walk between buildings)

Shipping-specific training not required*

(Sample must be packaged in a leak-proof secondary container)


Driving samples
(e.g., personal vehicle)

Materials of Trade (MOT) Online module (also included in instructor-led IATA courses)** 2 years

Shipping via commercial carrier
(e.g., FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)

IATA Category A or IATA Category B

(Both courses include dry ice, GMO, MOT, and exempt specimens)

Instructor-led course, register at MyREHS 2 years***

Public Transit or Ride Services
(e.g., RU Buses, Subway, Taxi, NJTransit, Amtrak, Uber, Lyft, etc.)


(Contact for guidance)


* In addition, you must be current with Lab Safety / Biosafety / BBP training or Clinical Health & Safety training. For more information, please visit the REHS training website.

**To get access to the online MOT module, please contact REHS ( and provide the name of your PI or clinic director.

***IATA Category A must be done as an instructor-led course. IATA Category B must be done as an instructor-led course initially, and then there is an online refresher that must be done every 2 years thereafter.

Export Control

Shipments to outside of the US require clearance from the Rutgers Export Control Office. It is the policy of Rutgers University that all personnel, including employees, visiting scholars and students comply with all United States export control laws and regulations, including the Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and the regulations administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Clearance from Rutgers Export Control:

  • Contact Export Control for Clearance Code
  • Enter Clearance Code onto ‘Customs Section’ of International Air Waybill
Shipping Documentation

Shipper’s Declaration

  • required for Category A shipments
  • NEVER fill out a shipper’s declaration of dangerous goods unless you have received the appropriate training.

Itemized List of Contents

  • required for shipments of Category A and Category B materials
  • enclose it in the box, between the secondary packaging and the outer box

Commercial Invoice (International shipments only)

  • 3 copies needed with shipping papers
  • The description of goods should match the description of goods in the Air Waybill
  • See example Commercial Invoice

Air Waybill

  • must include the UN number and proper shipping name for dangerous goods (which may need to be handwritten).
  • for international shipments, ensure that the description of goods (in the customs section of air waybill) includes the full name of the organism and wording such as “Non-hazardous/Non-pathogenic” and “For research use only”


  • For international shipments, ask the recipient to determine if any import permits (e.g., health department, agriculture department) are required for the biological material that you are sending.

Chemical Preservatives and other Dangerous Goods

Import/Export and Permit Requirements

All exports from the United States, to another country, must be cleared through the Export Control office prior to shipment. Please email Rutgers Export Control and copy

Importation of biological materials, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, human or non-human primate material, plants, soils, animal products, etc. into the United States from other countries, or other states into New Jersey, could require an importation permit. These permits are issued either by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Importation Permit Department (importation into US only), or from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health (USDA/APHIS) Inspection Permit.

Permits may also be required when shipping/ receiving viable transgenic seeds, plants, and other similar material from Rutgers to another group within the United States. If you have any questions, please contact prior to shipment to avoid penalties.

APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services: implements regulations for genetically engineered organisms that could pose a threat to plant health. Permits are required for these organisms.

APHIS import/ export program CDC import permit program

Important Point to remember: If you have a permit from APHIS, CDC, or another government agency, please provide a copy to the REHS biosafety group. Most of these agencies perform compliance inspections. If a government inspector arrives at your site for an inspection please contact REHS at (848) 445-2550 immediately. If you receive advance notification of a regulatory inspection, please forward to for assistance in inspection preparation.

Shipping Checklists and References
Document Name Description
Flowchart for Classification Use this flowchart to help guide you in classifying your biological shipment.
Commercial Invoice Example A commercial invoice is required whenever shipping materials to an international destination. The example has helpful tips for filling out or creating your commercial invoice.
List of Category A Examples This list in not all-inclusive. Please check with to confirm Category A classification.
Checklist for Exempt Human or Animal Specimens Use this checklist when preparing a shipment of Exempt Human Specimens or Exempt Animal Specimens.
Checklist for Category B Use this checklist when preparing a shipment of pathogens not considered Category B materials.
Checklist for Category A Use this checklist when preparing a shipment of pathogens that are Category A materials.
Checklist for Genetically modified organism / micro-organism (GMO/GMMO) Use this checklist when preparing a shipment of a genetically modified organism. This includes micro-organisms, but not extracted or purified biomaterials such as proteins, DNA, and RNA.
Materials of Trade (MOT) brochure This brochure summarizes the US Department of Transportation’s MOT rules allowing researchers and clinicians to transport samples/specimens in personal vehicles (after receiving the MOT training).
MOT Disclosure form Print, sign, and scan/email the signed copy of this form (one time) to
MOT Transport form Complete this form and have your supervisor sign it. Carry the signed copy in the vehicle when you transport the material. This and the MOT brochure are assurance for first responders, police, etc., that you are aware of DOT requirements for transporting biohazard materials. If you are hand-carrying instead of using a vehicle, you can keep this in the transport box.