Hazardous materials shipments to Canada from the United States by road or rail.

The Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations permit most shipments of dangerous goods originating outside Canada, to be prepared in accordance with other regulations. The TDG Regulations must be consulted for conditions and limitations.

Road and rail shipments originating in the United States can be prepared in accordance with the 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Hazardous Materials Regulations. The 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations have similar provisions for road and rail shipments originating in Canada that are destined to the United States (see part 171 for more details). The 49 CFR must be consulted for the conditions and limitations.

Parts 9 and 10 of the Canadian TDG Regulations state that dangerous goods that originate in the United States and are transported by road or rail to a destination in Canada or to a destination in the United States through Canada may comply with the classification, marking, labelling, placarding and documentation requirements of 49 CFR. However the Canadian TDG Regulations must be complied with in the following cases.

  1. The dangerous goods are forbidden by TDG Regulations but not by 49 CFR.
  2. The dangerous goods are regulated by TDG Regulations but not by 49 CFR.
  3. The dangerous goods are transported under an exemption (Special Permit) issued in accordance with Subpart B of Part 107 of 49 CFR.
  4. The dangerous goods are given dangerous goods safety mark or packaging exceptions in 49 CFR that are not permitted by TDG Regulations.

The TDG Regulations also permit a person to transport a substance between Canada and the United States by road or railway vehicle in accordance with 49 CFR when the substance is regulated in the United States but not regulated in Canada. (Section 1.11)

Conditions and limitations for road and rail shipments originating in the United States and prepared in accordance with 49 CFR and transported into Canada


A shipping document may be prepared in accordance with 49 CFR but must also include:

  1. The name and address of the place of business of the consignor;(the consignor is the importer).
  2. The classification from the TDG Regulations or the UN Recommendations must be used. However, the domestic shipping name “consumer commodity” is permitted.
  3. The emergency response assistance plan reference number and telephone number to have the plan activated must be included on the shipping document when required by the TDG Regulations.

Emergency response assistance plans

What is an emergency response assistance plan?

 Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAP or ERP) are required by the TDG Regulations for certain very harmful dangerous goods that necessitate special expertise and response equipment. The plans are intended to assist local emergency responders by providing them with technical experts and specialized equipment at an accident site.

The plan will explain how specialists and other personnel with knowledge, equipment and skills will be available at accident sites for the more hazardous dangerous goods. These plans supplement those of the carrier and of the local and provincial authorities, and must be integrated with other organizations to help mitigate the consequences of an accident.

In order to comply with the TDG Regulations, an approved plan is required prior to certain dangerous goods entering the transportation system. Dangerous goods that have a number listed in column 7 of Schedule 1 may require an ERAP. Part 7 specifies the conditions for which an ERAP is required and the process to follow in order to obtain the approval of an ERAP. When dangerous goods require an ERAP, it is the responsibility of the person who offers for transport or imports these dangerous goods to apply for an ERAP. The reference number will be issued in writing by Transport Canada upon the approval of the ERAP. The reference number and activation telephone number must be displayed on the shipping document accompanying the consignment for which the plan is applicable. In certain instances, a person may use someone else's ERAP. A sample plan is available to assist in preparing a plan.

The Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAP) program may be traced to the recommendations made by Justice Grange following the enquiry into the Mississauga train derailment of November 1979.

Dangerous goods safety marks

We use the term dangerous goods safety marks in the TDG Regulations.  What are dangerous goods safety marks? They are defined in the TDG Regulations as “a label, placard, orange panel, sign, mark, letter, word, number or abbreviation that is used to identify dangerous goods and to show the nature of the danger posed by them”.

The 49 CFR labels, placards and marking are permitted for road and rail shipments to the final destination in Canada.  However, after August 31, 2008, the labels or placards that are displayed for class 2.3, Toxic Gases and class 6.1,– Toxic Substances must be those illustrated in Part 4 of the TDG Regulations and not 49 CFR. It would be acceptable to display both the applicable Canadian and American safety marks for these classes.

The TDG Regulations also permit the 49 CFR safety marks to remain displayed on small means of containment for dangerous goods that are reshipped in Canada. However, there must be a notation on the shipping document if the dangerous goods safety marks in 49 CFR are different from those required by the TDG Regulations.

Means of containment

The provisions for reciprocity in the Canadian TDG Regulations are found in Part 5 or in standards referenced in the TDG Regulations.

  1. The TDG Regulations require UN, (United Nations), standardized means of containment for small means of containment and intermediate bulk containers.
  2. The TDG Regulations also permit aerosols and intermodal tanks, (IM101 and IM102), in accordance with 49 CFR.
  3. The TDG Regulations refer to CSA[1]standards for highway tanks and a CGSB[2]  standard for railway vehicles.  These standards provide equivalency to means of containment in accordance with 49 CFR.

There are no reciprocity provisions to means of containment for Class 7 Radioactive materials or for certain cylinders manufactured after 1993 (see paragraph 5.10(2)(c)).


The TDG Regulations require the employer to issue a training certificate to any person who handles, offers for transport or transports dangerous goods.

Subsection 6.4(1) of the TDG Regulations states that a document issued to the driver of a road vehicle licensed in the U.S. or to the crew of a train that indicates that the driver or crew of a train is trained in accordance with sections 172.700 to 172.704 of 49 CFR is a valid training certificate.

Accidental Release and Imminent Accidental Release Report Requirements

The person who has possession of the dangerous goods at the time of the accidental release must make an immediate report.

Air and Marine Shipments

Air shipments can be prepared in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Air. Marine shipments can be prepared in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. When shipping by air or marine, Part 11, Marine and Part 12, Air of the TDG Regulations must be consulted for additional requirements.

[1] CSA = Canadian Standards Association
[2] CGSB = Canadian General Standards Board

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