Skip to content Skip to navigation

Shipping w/ Dry Ice

safety logoHave weight of dry ice and address/phone of recipient (Use the shipping doc).
Bring unsealed box to Barbara in early afternoon.
Doing it yourself can result in package being destroyed, fines or prison.


Dry ice is classified by DOT and IATA as a 'miscellaneous' hazard, class 9. Dry ice is considered hazardous during transportation for three reasons:

1. Explosion hazard: dry ice releases a large volume of carbon dioxide gas as it sublimates. If packaged in a container that does not allow for the release of the gas, it may explode, causing personal injury or property damage.
2. Suffocation hazard: a large volume of carbon dioxide gas emitted in a confined space may create an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
3. Contact hazard: dry ice is a cryogenic material that causes severe frostbite upon contact with skin. Packaging dry ice properly will minimize the risk to personnel transporting the material. The explosion hazard will be eliminated with a package designed to vent gaseous carbon dioxide. Suffocation and contact hazards will be greatly reduced by labeling the package correctly, so those who come in contact with it will be aware of the contents.

There are five basic requirements for shipments of dry ice:

1. Gas venting: packages must allow for release of carbon dioxide gas. Dry ice must never be sealed in a container with an airtight seal, such as a jar with a threaded lid or an airtight cooler.
2. Package integrity: a package containing dry ice must be of adequate strength for intended use. It must be strong enough to withstand the loading and unloading normally encountered in transport. It must also be constructed and closed in order to prevent any loss of contents that might be caused by vibration or by changes in temperature, humidity, or altitude.
3. Package materials: do not use plastics that can be rendered brittle or permeable by the temperature of dry ice. This problem can be avoided by using commercially available packages intended to contain dry ice.
4. Airbill: the airbill (also referred to as the air waybill) must include the statement "Dry ice, 9, UN1845, number of packages x net weight in kilograms." FedEx has a check box on their airbill to satisfy this requirement; Airborne Express requires a slightly different format.
5. Labeling: the outermost container must be labeled with a hazard class 9 label, UN 1845, and net weight of the dry ice in kilograms. The label should be affixed to a vertical side of the box (not the top or bottom). The maximum allowable net quantity of dry ice allowed per package is 200 kg


Do not write 'specimens' or 'diagnostic specimens' on the box. They get these confused with medical specimens. Diagnostic specimens are subject to specific packaging requirements and there should not be any misunderstanding about your shipment. Diagnostic specimens, in shipping terminology, are materials that may be infectious to humans or animals.

Reusing a dry ice box can be a good use of resources. If you choose to reuse a box, completely obliterate all unnecessary marking, such as hazard labels, addresses, FedEx (or other courier) labels and barcodes. Only reuse a box if you can personally verify it is not contaminated and its integrity is intact. A box should not be reused if it is torn, cut, stained, or if the insulation is cracked or broken.

Secure your samples in such a way that when the dry ice sublimates, they will not move freely inside of the insulated box. This can be accomplished by wedging your samples in place with cardboard or Styrofoam. Fragile containers such as glass tubes or vials should be wrapped with cushioning material.

Minimize the volume of air to which the dry ice is exposed. This will slow the rate of sublimation. If there is any air space after you fill your package with dry ice, fill it with packing peanuts or crumpled paper.

Shipments are generally recommended to contain 5-10 pounds (2.27-4.54 kg) of dry ice per 24 hours. Refer to your package manufacturer's recommendations. Make arrangements with your consignee to make sure your package will be received on its intended delivery date. Take into account local holidays or closings that might delay package receipt.
Dry ice shipments can be made with FedEx and Airborne Express. UPS and the U.S. Postal Service have extremely restrictive policies concerning the shipment of hazardous materials;

Do not ship dry ice with UPS or the U. S. Postal Service.