Regulatory Sandbox on Electronic Shipping Documents


Transport Canada is launching a regulatory sandbox on electronic shipping documents. This project will allow us to test the use of electronic shipping documents for dangerous goods shipments in a safe way. As the transportation sector evolves, Transport Canada is looking at ways regulations can be updated to help keep Canada competitive and encourage innovation, while keeping Canadians safe.

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The sandbox project

We will use the sandbox to evaluate whether electronic shipping documents can help us reach the same or a better level of safety as paper documents, and if so, under what conditions.

The project will look at using electronic shipping documents across four modes of transportation: air, marine, rail, and road. We will also look at both rural and urban environments, including areas with limited or no internet or cell coverage.

No specific technology or system will be imposed by this project, because we are interested in evaluating a variety of platforms and technologies.

Note: We are not removing paper shipping documents. We are also not creating a central database of shipping documents. The goal of this project is simply to look at whether electronic shipping documents can provide the same or greater level of safety than paper documents.

This project does not change existing regulations. It is just a way for us to analyze the benefits, costs, and performance of electronic shipping documents, as well as how they could impacts Canadians. All of these items need to be examined before any regulatory changes are proposed.

Once the project is complete, we will publish a final report that will include recommendations.

Why are we testing electronic shipping documents?

The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations currently requires a physical paper shipping document to follow most dangerous goods while they are in transport. Shipping documents include information on the dangerous goods being transported and give first responders the information they need to respond to incidents when they occur. Unfortunately, paper documents can be lost or destroyed, which can cause delays in emergency response.

Electronic shipping documents present a number of potential benefits, as they can be:

  • easier to read
  • simpler to update
  • quicker to share with emergency responders
  • integrated with other digital business processes
  • more flexible and able to give Canadian businesses a competitive edge, and
  • aligned with international regulations

How to participate

The success of this project depends on stakeholders participating and contributing. We are looking for shippers, carriers, first responders, enforcement personnel, and other government agencies to participate in this project.

You can participate by:

  • applying for an equivalency certificate.
  • submitting feedback or completing questionnaires

Applying for equivalency certificate

You can apply for an equivalency certificate if you are a Canadian consignor or carrier that transports dangerous goods in Canada, and you can:

  • communicate shipping document information to first responders, inspectors, and CANUTEC within five minutes
  • provide a point of contact who can provide shipping document information when the dangerous goods are being transported
  • register with CANUTEC
  • for road vehicles, display a sign advising that electronic shipping documents are being used. These signs will be provided by Transport Canada and must be displayed on the driver's door and at least two sides of the means of containment.
  • send Transport Canada a report every six months that describes any incidents that have occurred
  • give us information related to your use of electronic shipping documents. This could include the impacts or benefits on operational activities, training, equipment, and administrative activities
  • send us your feedback throughout the two-year study
  • participate in emergency response simulations during the study (not everyone will be asked to participate)

To apply, you will need to register an account in with our approvals application website and contact us for an application form. If you have already applied for an equivalency certificate, you will not need to re-register.

If your application is approved, you will be issued an equivalency certificate that gives you permission to use electronic shipping documents from spring 2020 until spring 2022. Simulations and engagement activities will also take place during this time.

Participating in this project is voluntary, so you will not be compensated for participating.

Contact us

If you are interested in participating in this project, have questions or comments, please contact:

Sandbox Project Team
Email: TDGEShipping-ExpeditionETMD@tc.gc.ca

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