Who's Responsible for Signing a Dangerous Goods Declaration? Updated.
“Shippers Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD) for air transport not meeting the applicable provisions of ICAO technical instructions for the safe transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations is a direct breach of law and is subject to civic or criminal penalties.” [Srinivasan Raman via IMDG Code Compliance Center guest article]
The consignor (shipper) must provide a declaration signature or designate a competent party with previous authorization to do so. A freight forwarder issuing all other relevant documentation has the authority to sign a DGD. The two-signature requirement is a subsequent addition to the IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) code as required by ADR (The European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road).
Before you can ship any form of dangerous goods, proper industry protocol must be met. The two primary forms of documentation needed to initialize a DG shipment are the air waybill and the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods. The information provided in these documents is critical to the success of the transport. This is standardized procedure and essential for all dangerous goods shipments.
In order to ship hazardous materials, a form must be offered, certifying the cargo has been appropriately declared and in directive with IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. IATA DG (Dangerous Goods) regulations imply interchangeability between individuals (freight forwarders, agents, consolidators) and shippers, if and only if the aforementioned is employed directly by the consignor (shipper) and thus acting on their behalf.
Because the DGD can be a tedious process, shippers are within their rights to pass declaration responsibilities on to their logistics partner. Even still, some freight forwarders choose to forgo any unforeseeable liability assumed with signing the DGD and issue a company policy disclaimer relieving them of these specific declaration responsibilities. This requires freight forwarders to outsource to third parties to prepare the Shippers Declaration.
These organizations typically do not get a direct visual of shipment packaging, causing assumed confusion. Oftentimes this results in clerical errors, miscommunications, and ultimately misdeclarations. These very scenarios are inevitable precedents for continuing discussion around automation.
When Can We Expect to See the Automation of DGD’s?
In short, now.
Like many entities within the logistics industry, so too the DGD has the ability to evolve and accommodate the impending digital appropriation.
The Electronic Dangerous Goods Declaration (e-DGD) is a relatively new concept, unveiled early 2018, created to expose ideologies and conversations around data sharing platforms. Conceptually, the data is accessible to the owner and made readily available to any other necessary parties.
Aside from the obvious end-to-end advantage of the electronic declaration, the condensed number of errors associated with human interface would be significant.
We are beginning to see wide spread acceptance of the e-DGD, specifically if it can be reproduced and presented again in print format. While this does not necessarily bode well for end-to-end automation and carbon footprint reduction, it is still a step in the right direction – digitally speaking, that is.
What Information is Included in the Dangerous Goods Declaration?
Ultimately, the shipper is responsible for signing a Dangerous Goods Declaration. At the very least, the shipper must see to it that their logistics partner is fully capable of handling such certifications. The documentation is vital to the movement of any hazardous cargo and includes the following information:
Shipper contact information
Air Waybill Number
Consignee contact information
Known or Unknown Shipper status
Departure Airport / Port
Destination Airport / Port
Type of Shipment
Other items and information can be required.
“The main purpose of the Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD) is for the shipper to provide critical information to the aircraft operator or carrier in a format that is consistent throughout the transportation industry. This standard is part of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).” [Robert Smith, Dangerous Goods / Hazmat via Shipping Solutions]
The nature and the quality of your dangerous goods are critical to proper classification and documentation needed to move forward with your shipment. The DGD form breaks this information down into 4 different sections:
Step 1: Identification
Step 2: Quality and Type of Packing
Step 3: Packing Instruction
Step 4: Authorizations
Acceptable DGD Formatting
There are two different formats of the IATA DGD currently issued for declaration – both are acceptable. One format involves columns and leading structure, while the other occupies an open format. There are systemic ways in which the open format must be filled out. Nuances abound when properly filling out a Dangerous Goods Declaration. Formatting is just another reason a shipper would outsource this piece of transport documentation.
A sample of each DGD format is pictured below for reference:
While the formats may differ initially in general aesthetics and sectional implementation, the comprehensive information needed on the Dangerous Goods Declaration is exactly the same.
Navigating transportation issues, financing concerns, customs, dangerous goods, and regulatory agencies requires documentation that is complete, accurate, and presented to the appropriate parties in a timely manner.
CLN’s documentation group works closely with companies to identify the necessary documents that are needed, prepare those documents, and present them to the necessary agencies.
Connect with our Documentation Team here today to discuss and review the documents needed for your shipment. If you have any other questions regarding your supply chain or individual shipments (hazardous or otherwise), contact us here.
CLN Worldwide is a cross-functional team of logistics experts helping clients navigate areas of transportation, distribution, customs, and regulatory compliance. Our focus is not only on an individual product group or service offering but rather a comprehensive approach to effectively managing and optimizing the supply chain.