Top 10 Mistakes made on a Dangerous Goods Shipper’s Declaration

Top 10 Mistakes made on a Dangerous Goods Shipper’s Declaration

Dangerous goods shipper’s declarations can be tricky to fill out. Whether you are a seasoned DG professional, or a green horned new hire, the shipper’s declaration can be an easy place to make a mistake. In this post I am going to cover the top 10 mistakes made on Dangerous Goods Shipper’s Declarations. Also, I will give you some tips on how to avoid them with every shipment you make.

1.) Keep an eye on those addresses

We all know how easy it is to type in that same old address of that same old customer that you always ship to. Mistakes happen, (we are only human) but in this profession mistakes can be very costly. Every time you type in an address on your shipper’s declaration, be sure to go over it two or three times. We are looking for typos, misspellings, and anything that should not be there. So, be sure to proofread the Consignee’s address, and also double check the Shipper’s address if you have typed it in.

2.) Page numbers (Page ____ of ____ Pages)

The page numbers in the top right hand corner of the shipper’s declaration are often overlooked. Many DG software products will populate them for shippers. If you are typing in the information, it will not kill you to look over the page numbers. If you are typing or writing a shipper’s declaration then you MUST fill out the page numbers (example: Page 1 of 1 Pages).

3.) Passenger and Cargo Aircraft or Cargo Aircraft Only

When shipping dangerous goods, some articles can go Passenger and Cargo Aircraft, and some can only go Cargo Aircraft Only (CAO). It is very important to notify to the airline or courier which of these types of aircraft transport your consignment can travel. When filling this section of your shipper’s declaration, always Black out or X out (XXX) the type of service you ARE NOT USING.

4.) Is this stuff Radioactive?

This one is rather simple. Does your dangerous goods shipment contain radioactive material? It’s either a yes or no answer. Like in step 3, Black out or X out the choice that is not applicable to your shipment.

5.) UN number and Proper Shipping Name

It doesn’t matter if you’ve shipped UN1072 Oxygen, compressed 1,000 times. It only takes one time to completely forget to put the comma between Oxygen and compressed, and your shipment gets rejected. Small typos and errors like this can and will cause your whole shipment to come back. If you are typing or writing your shipper’s declaration, be sure to double check your spelling and punctuation of the Proper Shipping Name. You want to make sure that it also matches the correct UN number, not the UN number from your previous shipment.

6.) Keep it Class-y

The class of the article that you are shipping should be on the shipper’s declaration. But don’t forget about that pesky Subsidiary Risk that needs to go in parenthesis ( ) right next to it. Not all shipments have a subsidiary risk, but it is a very good idea to still double check this part of the shipper’s declaration.

7.) Packing Groups can be a major pitfall

Our list is moving right along and we are already at the Packing Group portion of the shipper’s declaration. For starters, the Packing Group needs to be filled out correctly. You find all the relevant information for the Packing Group in the SDS and Table 4.2 of the IATA DGR. So, when you fill in your Packing Group (if you have one) remember to use Roman Numerals (I, II, III).

8.) Putting in the correct Packing Instructions

Also make sure that you have filled out the Packing Instructions column correctly. Don’t forget that packing instructions numbers correlate with what class you are shipping. For example, if you are shipping UN1072 Oxygen, compressed then the correct packing instruction is 200, TWO…hundred (get it?). If you are shipping Limited Quantities you want to be sure the packing instructions has the letter “Y” in it. This signifies that the packing instruction is for Limited Quantities.

9.) Sign your life away

When you finally reach the bottom of your completed shipper’s declaration, and it is time to sign it make sure that you don’t sign your name too big or too sloppy. I’ve seen shipments get rejected for signatures overlapping other areas of the shipper’s declaration. It’s okay “dumb down” your signature to make it more legible, keep it consistent.

10.) It says to give the carrier two copies, let’s actually make that FOUR

You heard me! Don’t offer the carrier two copies of the shipper’s declaration with each shipment, give them what they want, make it four. It won’t break your company’s back (the extra two sheets of paper) and you never know who will take a copy off your shipment when it’s in transit. Better safe than sorry!


Completing a shipper’s declaration can sometimes be an arduous task or it can be another thing you do everyday. The point is, don’t make things extra hard on yourself with getting a rejection from a carrier for an avoidable mistake. Always double check your spelling with your addresses (TO and FROM). Make sure those Page Numbers are accurate. Ask yourself these questions every shipment, “Passenger or Cargo only?” and “Is it radioactive material?”. Always cross check the UN number and Proper Shipping Name for spelling and identification errors. All shipments need a Class, so be sure yours has the right Class to get to where it’s going. The Packing Group is not always applicable on shipments, but when it is, get it right. Always check your Packing Instructions and make sure you have a “Y” for Limited Quantities. When your shipper’s declaration is all done, don’t forget to sign it legibly and not too big or enthusiastically. Finally, don’t do the bare minimum and give the carrier two copies of the shipper’s declaration, give them four!