Biological Materials Shipping & Transport

Shipping and transport of biological materials is strictly regulated. Individuals involved in shipping or transport of infectious substances must receive formal training on applicable regulations and requirements before sending or receiving these materials. Shipping training can be completed online via CITI; see the Biosafety Program Training website for details.

If you have questions or need assistance with shipping, contact the UWM Biosafety Program at

Transporting Biological Materials on Campus

UW is exempt from the US DOT Hazardous Materials transport regulations (CFR49) when moving materials on campus or in a campus vehicle on roadways. However, we must still adhere to safety guidelines when moving the materials.

Transport of biological materials from building to building or lab to lab on campus can be done by walking or in campus vehicles. See the below guidelines for appropriate packaging and transport of materials within the UWM campus.

  • Primary container:
    • The primary container must be sealed closed.
    • If the container itself is not sealable (e.g., a Petri dish), use parafilm or lab tape to seal the container for transport.
  • Secondary container:
    • Use of a leak-proof secondary container is required!
    • If the sample is a liquid, add an absorbent pad or paper towels inside the secondary container to absorb any spills in transit
    • Ensure that the outer packaging is labeled with the following information: contact information (including phone number), general description of contents, and hazard level (including biohazard symbol, if appropriate)
  • Mode of transport:
    • If walking between labs or buildings, use a wheeled cart for safe transport of biological materials. Carrying materials during transport is permitted only if the secondary container can be easily carried with one hand (e.g., a lightweight cooler with a handle).
    • Biological samples and materials are NOT allowed on public transportation
    • If vehicle transport is needed, use a university vehicle. Transport of biological samples or materials by personal vehicle is strongly discouraged and may violate federal regulations.

Shipping Biological Materials

The information below is provided as a resource to help you determine what requirements may apply when shipping different types of biological materials. However, reviewing the information here does not meet the training requirement for hazardous materials shipping. We strongly recommend contacting the Biosafety Program before shipping biological materials to ensure that all requirements are met: 414-588-4261 or


Infectious Substances (Class 6.2)

Substances known or reasonably expected to contain microorganisms or other agents (e.g., prions) which can cause disease in humans or animals. Classified as Division 6.2 hazardous materials and must be shipped in accordance with federal (US DOT, USPS) and international (IATA) regulations. There are two categories of infectious substances:

Category A

Infectious substances which are transported in a form that is capable of causing permanent disability or life-threatening or fatal disease in humans or animals if exposure occurs. Assigned to UN2814 (shipping name = Infectious Substance, affecting humans) or UN2900 (shipping name = Infectious Substance, affecting animals).

Category B

Any infectious substances that does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A. Assigned to UN3373 (shipping name = Biological Substance, Category B).

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) & Genetically Modified Microorganisms (GMMOs) (Class 9)

Organisms in which genetic material has been purposely altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur naturally. Assigned to UN3245 (shipping name = GMO or GMMO) and classified as a Class 9 Miscellaneous Hazardous Material.

Infectious / Biohazardous Waste

Any waste that can pass on infectious disease to people or animals, such as sharps, blood, human tissue, or microbiological laboratory waste. UWM faculty, staff, and students are not permitted to ship infectious waste. All infectious waste must be decontaminated on-site or picked up by a UWM Hazardous Waste Specialist. Find more information on the Environmental Protection Program website, or contact HazWaste or Biosafety with any questions.

Dry Ice (Class 9)

Dry ice is not a biological material but is frequently included in biological materials shipments to preserve sample materials in transit. Dry ice is a regulated hazardous material and is classified as a Class 9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Good and assigned to UN1845 (shipping name = Dry Ice).

Exempt Human or Animal Specimens (Class 9)

Human or animal samples that are being transported for routine testing not related to the diagnosis of an infectious disease. If presence of a human or animal pathogen in the sample material is known or suspected, human & animal specimens are classified under Class 6.2 Infectious Substances as appropriate.

Shipping Requirements

Category A Infectious Substances

  • Triple layer packaging that is certified for hazardous material shipping
  • Absorbent material
  • Itemized contents list
  • Outer package labeling & marking: must include Class 6.2 Infectious Substance diamond label
  • Shipper’s Declaration

Category B Infectious Substances

  • Triple layer packaging that is certified for hazardous material shipping
  • Outer package labeling & marking: must include UN3373 diamond label and shipping name “Biological Substance, Category B”
  • No Shipper’s Declaration required

Dry Ice

  • Follow all requirements for biological/infectious substances in addition to dry ice if shipped in the same package
  • Never place dry ice in a sealed container
  • Outer package must be dry ice approved, or an overpack must be used
  • Outer package labeling & marking: UN1845 Dry Ice label, estimated weight of dry ice, Class 9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods label

Import / Export

Import or export permits may also be required, depending on the shipment’s contents, origin, and destination. Some cases may also be subject to Export Control. If you are working with international collaborators to receive or share materials, contact the Biosafety Program at 414-588-4261 or for more assistance. You can also find more information on permit requirements and export control at the following links: