Sending Dangerous Goods by Air

Information on items that cannot be sent by post and guidance on how to ship them

Many everyday items - which we take for granted when we use them in our house, garage or garden - fall under the heading of ’dangerous goods’ when carried on board an aircraft.

On the ground, such items pose little danger, but in the confines of an aircraft the situation is very different. For example, whereas it is relatively straightforward to deal with a leaking bottle of bleach in the kitchen, if this were to occur in flight the crew’s ability to deal with such an incident would be severely limited. Even if not sent as ‘air mail’, letters and parcels sent in the post will often be carried on aircraft not only to worldwide destinations but also for relatively short domestic journeys, particularly with ‘next day’ services.

Consequently, to ensure the highest levels of passenger safety, which addresses the safe transport of dangerous goods by air, includes a prohibition on such items in air mail.

To minimise the likelihood of dangerous goods being carried on an aircraft, the Royal Mail's Terms and Conditions do not allow such items in the post.

Particular attention must also be drawn to sellers of goods on online auction sites such as “eBay”, where it has been noted that many items offered for sale are not permitted in the mail, but dispatch by post is provided nonetheless.

It should be noted that apart from the very real danger to flight safety, the maximum penalties for sending prohibited items in air mail, which would be a breach of the Air Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations, are an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.

Royal Mail provides guidance on the Post Office website.

The AN(DG)Rs require that dangerous goods be carried in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Doc 9284 ‘Technical Instructions4 for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.’ These are strict requirements on sending dangerous goods by air, including on how they are packed, marked, labelled and documented as well as on the dangerous goods training received by the person sending them.
Unless you have received the appropriate training and are sure that you can comply with the requirements, the items can ONLY be sent on your behalf by someone who is trained, such as a freight forwarder, a shipping, packing or courier company with staff who have received the correct dangerous goods training in accordance with the regulations.

Freight Forwarders

A freight forwarder is an intermediary who acts on behalf of exporters, importers or other companies or persons and who can organise the safe, efficient and cost-effective transportation of dangerous goods.

Shipping, Packing and Courier Companies

Providing a shipping, packing or courier company handles dangerous goods, they will arrange the collection, packing and shipping of most classes of dangerous goods.