What Are Undeclared And Misdeclared Hazardous Goods?

Dec 14, 2022

Recently, there has been an increase in maritime incidents involving undeclared and misdeclared hazardous or dangerous goods in cargo. 

These incidents can range from simple customs fines to major contingencies such as vessel fires, wreck removal, crew injuries, among many others. 

US-based National Cargo Bureau conducted a survey in 2019 among 500 containers and found out that more than half of the containers had at least one deficiency. 

Among those surveyed, 69% of the import containers contain dangerous goods, while 38% export containers also contain dangerous goods. 

Either done purposely or not, non-declaration or misdeclaration of dangerous goods in cargo can pose huge risks to everyone in the supply chain. 

If you plan on importing or exporting dangerous goods, read more to know what you should do before shipping dangerous goods.

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What Are Undeclared Dangerous Goods?

“Undeclared” dangerous goods are shipments containing dangerous goods that match the classifications from the IMDG code. However, the shipper failed to declare the goods as dangerous or hazardous.

These are articles or substances that can be risky to human lives, safety, health or to the environment. 

Examples of dangerous goods include, but are not limited to, lithium batteries, explosive, flammable, poison, corrosive, radioactive materials, etc.

What Are Misdeclared Dangerous Goods?

Misdeclared Dangerous Goods are any dangerous goods that are not declared correctly based on the classification criteria of IMDG code. 

This happens when the shipper includes incorrect or misleading information on the goods declaration form.

Misdeclaration can lead to loading of dangerous goods into containers and handling without special precautions.

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What To Do If You’re Shipping Hazardous Packages

Here we will elaborate on what are the specific steps to take when you’re planning to import or export hazardous goods to and from Australia.

Reminders Before Shipping Hazardous Goods

Now that you know the requirements for shipping hazardous goods, here are a few reminders before shipping and upon arrival of your hazardous goods shipment.

  • Hazardous cargo will not be accepted at our Container Freight Station (CFS) if it’s not accompanied with Marine Order 41 (MO41) paperwork. 
  • We will refuse unloading for all arriving cargo containing dangerous goods without the required paperwork. 
  • To complete your MO41, contact a specialist dangerous goods company to properly assess and to assist you in completing your MO41 paperwork.
person checking proper labels on a parcel

Penalties for Undeclared or Misdeclared Hazardous Goods

Because of the numerous incidents involving non-declaration and misdeclaration of hazardous goods, there have been penalties imposed on the shippers who are not complying with the requirements. 

  • For misdeclaration caused by incorrect labels, there will be penalties and additional costs charged to the shipper's account.
  • For undeclared and misdeclared hazardous cargo, the booking party will be liable and responsible for all costs and consequences related to fines, violations, damages, incidents, claims, corrective actions that result from undeclaring or misdeclaring hazardous cargo.
  • Penalties for undeclared and/or misdeclared hazardous cargo can range from US$15,000 to US$45,000 per container.

Wrapping Up

Shipping dangerous goods can be quite tricky due to the long list of requirements and paperwork that needs to be done.

However, it also pays to be informed and to comply with the requirements not only for the sake of compliance but also for the safety of everyone involved in the supply chain. 

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Robert Lynch

Founder of Australia’s largest outside hire company Couriers & Freight, Robert Lynch is a seasoned business leader in the shipping industry with over 20 years of experience. His expertise spans from outside hire, taxi truck, and last-mile services to freight management, freight forwarding and warehousing. 

Robert has also incorporated technology into his business through custom software to enhance growth and efficiency. Robert is a valuable resource for business owners looking to improve their logistics operations.

Connect with Robert Lynch on LinkedIn.

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