Who we are

Each year more and more dangerous goods are moved across Canada by road, rail, water and air. These shipments range from industrial chemicals to manufactured goods and, while indispensable to our modern way of life, they can pose a threat if not handled safely.

The transportation of such products by air, marine, rail and road is regulated under the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992. The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, adopted by all provinces and territories, establishes the safety requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods.

Federal and provincial legislation provide for the regulation of an extensive list of products, substances or organisms classified as dangerous. The products fall into one of nine classes:

  • Class 1 explosives
    Class 1 placardClass 1.4 placardClass 1.5 placardClass 1.6 placard
  • Class 2 gases
    Class 2.1 placardClass 2.2 placardClass 2.3 placard
  • Class 3 flammable liquids
    Class 3 placard
  • Class 4 flammable solids, spontaneously combustibles and substances that, on contact with water, emit flammable gases
    Class 4.1 placardClass 4.2 placardClass 4.3 placard
  • Class 5 oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
    Class 5.1 placardClass 5.2 placard
  • Class 6 poisonous (toxic) and infectious substances
    Class 6.1 placardClass 6.2 placard
  • Class 7 radioactive materials
    Class 7 placard
  • Class 8 corrosives
    Class 8 placard
  • Class 9 miscellaneous products or substances
    - miscellaneous identified dangerous goods
    - certain specified goods considered dangerous to the environment
    - dangerous wastes
    Class 9 placard

A system of diamond-shaped placards and labels is used to identify dangerous goods. Different colours and symbols, such as a flame for flammables or a skull and crossbones for poisons, depict the dangers peculiar to each regulated product.


Transport Canada is the focal point for the national program to promote public safety during the transportation of dangerous goods. The department's Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate serves as the major source of regulatory development, information and guidance on dangerous goods transport for the public, industry and government employees. Through its various components, the Directorate works closely with other federal and provincial agencies to implement the safety program.

The Regulatory Affairs Branch is responsible for the administration, development and amendment of the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations.

Branch personnel represent Canada on international organizations responsible for establishing uniform international requirements for classification, labeling and marking of means of containment, transport documentation and safety marks for vehicles carrying dangerous goods. These organizations include the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Association of American Railroads (AAR) Tankcar Committee and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel.

The Branch has initiated the development of standards for all types of means of containment used in the transportation of dangerous goods. The Branch also issues permits when exceptions to the regulations are warranted.

The Research, Evaluation and Systems Branch makes recommendations and implements decisions and directives to minimize the adverse effects of accidental losses to people, property and the environment associated with the transportation of dangerous goods. The Branch applies risk management techniques in a regulatory framework targeted toward a highly diverse and competitive sector of the Canadian transportation system. These techniques reduce the uncertainty surrounding the potential for accident-related losses by estimating the likelihood and severity of losses, and by taking action to reduce the probability and severity of these losses.

The Research Division and the Evaluation Division of the Branch carry out their mandate by advising senior management on risk policy. They work with other branches within the Directorate to define and clarify issues of concern, conduct and manage research and development activities, and adapt risk control techniques within risk management to changing conditions ensuring safety is increased in a cost-effective manner. The TDG Systems Division manages the design, development and implementation of applications comprising the Dangerous Goods Information System and manages the Transport Dangerous Goods web site. 

The Compliance and Response Branch, with the assistance of five regional offices across Canada, ensures that consignors, federal carriers and consignees are complying with the regulations through a national inspection, investigation and enforcement program and coordinates the activities of all dangerous goods inspection agencies. The regional offices also provide an information and advisory service to industry and the public.

Remedial Measures Specialists within the Branch review industry emergency response assistance plans registered with the Directorate and conduct investigation on the use of the plans to ensure these can be activated to respond effectively to dangerous goods transportation accidents.

The Branch is responsible for the development of training programs for all federal and some provincial inspectors. The Branch provides general education and awareness programs for industry and the public and manages the explosives vehicle certificate program on behalf of the Explosives Branch of Natural Resources Canada.

CANUTEC (Canadian Transport Emergency Centre) provides 24-hour-a-day bilingual emergency advisory and regulatory information service. CANUTEC's experienced professional chemists assist emergency responders in the event of a dangerous goods accident. The 2008 Emergency Response Guide was developed jointly by CANUTEC, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico. The Guide is an initial reference source of information on the hazards of the chemicals and recommended responses to accidents involving dangerous goods. It is intended to be used to determine immediate and general on-site response to an accident involving specific dangerous goods.

For general information, call 613-992-4624.

or e-mail CANUTEC

For emergencies, call 1-888-CANUTEC (226-8832) OR 613-996-6666 (collect calls accepted).

The Administrative Unit plans the Directorate's budget as well as coordinates the development and distribution of numerous publications promoting the TDG program. These publications are available upon request. The Dangerous Goods Newsletter is published quarterly by the Directorate. It includes information on accident flows and trends, regulatory interpretations, reports on national and international events, regulatory and compliance requirements and activities, risk management and assessment techniques, emergency response and data compilation and reports. It is available upon request and distributed free of charge to more than 23,000 readers in Canada and abroad.


The Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate works closely with the Marine, Civil Aviation and Railway Safety Directorates in Transport Canada as well as non-transport departments and agencies such as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Environment Canada, the Explosives Branch of Natural Resources Canada, and Health Canada. These groups provide specialized advice on their respective regulations. They also participate in compliance inspection and accident response activities within their own area of responsibility.

The TDG Directorate has established working relationships with the highway transport administrations and certain non-transport groups of all provincial and territorial governments. These groups provide advice on regulations pertaining to highway transportation and carry out related compliance and accident response activities. Industry plays an active role in the regulatory consultation process and in the development of consensus standards.

Date modified: