Sample transport

Samples must be packed, labeled and transported in accordance with the latest dangerous goods regulations. You must observe the regulations for the transport of dangerous goods.

This document is for guidance only and it is up to the sender to comply with all national and international laws.

Infectious substances
Samples for veterinary examination have a certain probability of containing pathogens, so-called infectious substances. As such, they are subject to dangerous goods law, which is regulated by the 1957 Geneva "European Convention on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)".

ADR - National Law
The acronym ADR stands for the French name of the agreement "Accord européen relatif au transport international des merchandises Dangereuses par route". In national law, the ADR is implemented in the Ordinance on the national and international carriage of dangerous goods by road and rail (Hazardous Goods Ordinance Road and Rail - GGVSE) along with directives for the implementation of the Hazardous Goods Ordinance Road and Railways (GGVSE Implementation Guidelines - RSE).

The Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are the legally binding international regulations. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) publishes Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) that incorporate the ICAO provisions and may add further restrictions (where necessary such restrictions are included in these guidelines). The ICAO rules apply on all international flights. For national flights, i.e. flights within one country, national civil aviation authorities apply national legislation.

The ADR is a comprehensive legal basis, containing the requirements, in particular, for the classification, packaging, labelling and documentation of dangerous goods and handling during transport and the use of vehicles.
The dangerous substances are divided into nine classes, the infectious substances being found in class 6.2. Class 6.1 deals with toxic substances and class 7 with radioactive substances.

Criteria - what is considered an infectious substance?
(Below are excerpts from the original text of the ADR)
"Infectious substances within the meaning of ADR are substances that are known or suspected to contain pathogens.
Pathogens are micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites and fungi) and other agents such as prions, which can cause disease in humans or animals.
The substances of class 6.2 are subdivided as follows:
1. Infectious substances, affecting humans
2. Infectious substances, affecting animals only
3. Clinical waste
4. Biological substances
When preparing dangerous goods (infectious material) for transport (road, rail or air), the correct UN number must first be determined.

For the purposes of ADR:
Patient-derived specimens (patient specimens) are human or animal specimens taken directly from humans or animals, including but not limited to excreta, secretions, blood and blood components, tissues and swabs of tissue fluid, and body parts for the purposes of research , diagnosis, treatment or prevention.
Infectious substances are classified in Class 6.2 and assigned one of the following UN numbers 2814, 2900, 3291 or 3373. "

UN numbers
The United Nations (UN) has a working group ("Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods" of the "Transport Division" of UNECE = United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), which deals with the classification and conditions for packaging and carriage dangerous goods.
Every dangerous substance gets a four-digit UN number for identification according to the UN Model Regulations

United Nations recommendations for the transport of dangerous goods
The assigned UN numbers are subject to specific packing instructions (e.g., P650, P620, P099).

Danger of infectious substances - categories
Depending on the hazard potential, the infectious substances are classified into category A or B, with category A comprising the more hazardous pathogens.

Please also read our sample shipping information leaflet (german) - here you will also find practical examples of the packaging (pictures). See also "IATA Guidance Document - Infectious Substances". Further details can also be found under the following link on the internet:

The Bio Risk Officer (BRO) must be informed about samples falling under category A prior to transport. This also applies to category B samples, if they come from other EU countries or third countries (non-EU countries). Rabies antibody samples of healthy pets (dog, cat, ferret) from third countries are "Exempt Animal Specimen" and do NOT need to be reported in advance to the BRO!


Wendy Shell, CMIOSH Bsc (Hons.) Msc
Tel: +43 664 9670948

Dr. Angelika Loitsch
Tel: +43 664 966 8326

Category A

Category A

Definition "Category A substance" means "an infectious substance which is transported in such a form that it may cause permanent disability or a life-threatening or fatal disease when exposed to otherwise healthy people or animals." Exposure occurs when an infectious substance leaks out of the protective packaging and results in physical contact with humans or animals.

Packages with infectious substances of category A must be marked with one of the following UN numbers:

UN 2814 = Infectious substances that can cause disease in humans or both humans and animals. The official name for the transport of UN 2814 substances is: "INFECTIOUS SUBSTANCE, AFFECTING HUMANS"
UN 2900 = Infectious substances that can cause disease only in animals. The official name for the transport of UN 2900 substances is: "INFECTIOUS SUBSTANCE, AFFECTING ANIMALS ONLY"

All category A substances must be packed according to packing instruction P620. See also sample shipment - leaflet (in german); see also "IATA Guidance Document - Infectious Substances".

Examples of Category A infectious substances (pathogens) meeting these criteria are listed in Tables 1 and 2.

The following tables are not complete. Infectious substances, including new or emerging pathogens not listed in the tables but meeting the same criteria, are to be assigned to category A. In addition, a substance is a Category A substance if there are doubts as to whether or not it meets the criteria.

Examples of microorganisms falling under category A: 

Tabelle 1:







Bacillus anthracis (cultures only)

Brucella abortus (cultures only)

Brucella melitensis (cultures only)

Brucella suis (cultures only)

Burkholderia mallei – Pseudomonas mallei – Glanders (cultures only)

Burkholderia pseudomallei Pseudomonas pseudomallei (cultures only)

Chlamydia psittaci – avian strains (cultures only)

Clostridium botulinum (cultures only)

Coccidioides immitis (cultures only)

Coxiella burnetii (cultures only)

Crimean congo hemorrhagic fever virus

Dengue virus (cultures only)

Eastern equine encepahalitis Virus (cultures only)

Escherichia coli, verotoxigenic (cultures only)*

Ebola virus

Flexa virus

Francisella tularensis (cultures only)

Guanarito virus

Hantaan virus

Hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome virus (HFRSV)

Hendra virus

Hepatitis B virus (cultures only)

Herpes B virus (cultures only)

Human immunodeficiency virus (cultures only)

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (cultures only)

Japanese encephalitis virus (cultures only)

Junin virus

Kyasanur-forest disease virus

Lassa virus

Machupo virus


Monkeypox virus

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (cultures only)*

Nipah virus

Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus

Polio virus (cultures only)

Rabies virus (cultures only)

Rickettsia prowazekii (cultures only)

Rickettsia rickettsii (cultures only)

Rift valley fever virus (cultures only)

Russian spring-summer encephalitis virus (cultures only)

Sabia virus

Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (cultures only)*

Tick-borne Encephalitis virus (cultures only)

Variola virus

Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (cultures only)

West Nile virus (cultures only)

Yellow fever virus (cultures only)

Yersinia pestis (cultures only)


* However, cultures intended for diagnostic or clinical use may be classified as Category B infectious substances.

Tabelle 2:

UN-number und definition  


Microorganisms (examples)



UN 2900







African swine fever virus (cultures only)

Avian paramyxovirus Typ 1 – velogenic Newcastle-Disease virus (cultures only)

Classical swine fever virus (cultures only)  

Foot and mouth disease virus (cultures only)

Lumpy skin disease virus   (cultures only)

Mycoplasma mycoides – Pathogen of the Contagious bovine pleuropneumony (cultures only)

Pest des petits ruminants virus (cultures only)

Rinderpest virus (cultures only)

Sheeppoxvirus (cultures only)

Goatpoxvirus (cultures only)

Swine vesicular disease virus (cultures only)

Vesicular stomatitis virus (cultures only)



Category B

Category B

Definition "Category B substance" = "An infectious substance that does not meet the criteria for inclusion in category A". Infectious substances of category B must be assigned to UN 3373. The official name for the transport of UN 3373 substances is "BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCE, CATEGORY B"

Category B substances also include diagnostic specimens: "A diagnostic specimen, UN3373, contains human or animal specimens transported for diagnostic purposes, including excretions, secretions, blood and its components, tissues and body fluids." "Diagnostic material does not include live animals. "Health & Safety Executive, UK

For category B samples, packing instruction P650 is mandatory. The sample containers and packaging must be liquid-tight and unbreakable. There must be sufficient absorbent material between the inner vessel and the outer vessel.

See also sample shipment - leaflet; see also "IATA Guidance Document - Infectious Substances" and the IATA leaflet on packaging P650.

See also Sample shipment leaflet (in german) with pictures; see also" IATA Guidance Document - Infectious Substances" and the IATA packing instructions for P650.

Exempt Animal Specimen

Exempt Animal Specimen

"Exempt Animal Specimen(s)" as defined are not subject to the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations or ADR, but must be properly packed for transport and shipping.

Exempt Animal Specimen” means an animal sample (including, but not limited to, secreta, excreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluids, and body parts) transported for routine testing not related to the diagnosis of an infectious disease. Typically, „Exempt animal specimens“ are specimens for which there is a minimal likelihood that pathogens are present, such as blood sera from vaccinated pets for rabies vaccination titre testing.

The package should not break under normal transport conditions! The sender is responsible for the packaging. Liquids, such as sera or blood, must be triple-packaged (see figure):

A) Primary Receptacle

  • Primary receptacles must be  leakproof.
  • Use watertight containers for liquid specimens with a tight closure such as a screw cap, snap-on or push-on lid, taped for an additional seal.
  • If you place multiple primary receptacles in a single secondary receptacle, they must be individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact between them. Sufficient cushioning and absorbent materials must surround each primary receptacle containing liquid.
  • Primary receptacles must be carefully labelled e.g. for rabies antibody titre testing with the microchip number of the pet and with the pets name – please use a waterproof pen.

B) absorbent material

  • Place absorbent material between the primary and secondary receptacles, using enough material to absorb the entire contents of all primary receptacles.
  • Acceptable absorbent materials include cellulose wadding and paper towels.

C) secondary container

  • The secondary container cannot serve as the outer packaging.
  • Secondary containers for liquids must be leakproof.
  • Place the form e.g. the rabiestiter form – preferably in a plastic bag -between the secondary container and outer packaging
  • Place cool packs, if necessary (e.g. for sera), with the sample(s) inside the secondary container - do not use dry ice!

D) Outer packing

The primary receptacle(s)and secondary packing must be enclosed in an outer packing.

  • The outer packing must be rigid. Foam boxes, plastic bags and paper envelopes are unacceptable outer containers.
  • The outer shipping packing must be marked on the address side with the words “Exempt Animal Specimen(s)”.
Verpackung / Packing instruction - Exempt Animal Specimen