Transport Dangerous Goods Containers, Standards and Requirements

There are only a few exceptions where the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations ( TDG Regulations) allow non-standardized (non-specification) containers to be used. In most situations containers for dangerous goods transport must be in compliance with a selected safety standard prescribed in the TDG Regulations and the TDG Regulations call such containers “Standardized Means of Containment”. Whether or not the TDG Regulations permit a non-standardized container to be used, all containers must be designed, constructed, filled, closed, secured and maintained so that under normal conditions of transport, including handling, there will be no accidental release of dangerous goods that could endanger public safety.

Means of Containment Large and Small

The TDG Regulations distinguish between “Small Means of Containment” and “Large means of containment”. Small Means of Containment are containers with a capacity less than or equal to 450L. Some examples include bags, boxes, combination containers, composite containers, drums, jerricans, cylinders, some intermediate bulk containers as well as other types of containers. Large means of containment are containers with a water capacity greater than 450L. Some examples include highway tanks, tank cars, portable tanks, tubes and intermediate bulk containers, as well as other types of containers. The TDG Regulations prescribe requirements and specific safety standards depending on which of these respective container types is to be used.

Certification Safety Marks

Markings applied to a standardized means of containment to indicate compliance with a safety standard are called “certification safety marks”. A container's certification safety marks convey important information to anyone handling, offering for transport or transporting dangerous goods, or intending to do so, in that container. Certification safety marks identify the container type, the standard to which it was constructed and by whom, the date it was last requalified and by whom, as well as limits on how the container can be used. It is an offence under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act to apply certification safety marks to a container that does not in fact comply with the applicable safety standard.

Selecting a Container for Dangerous Goods Transport

The consignor of each dangerous goods shipment must determine which containers are acceptable to use for the particular dangerous goods by consulting the TDG Regulations and the appropriate standards prescribed in Part 5 of the Regulations. To choose an appropriate container for dangerous goods transport the consignor must:

  • classify the dangerous goods in accordance with Part 2 of the TDG Regulations and consider any Special Provisions of the Regulations;
  • decide on whether a small or large container is to used;
  • consider the mode(s) of transport that will be involved;
  • consider if any exceptions in Part 1 of the TDG Regulations apply;
  • select a container safety standard from those prescribed in sections 5.10, 5.11, 5.12 or 5.14 of the TDG Regulations, for the class of dangerous goods, the mode of transport and depending on whether a large or small container is desired;
  • follow the requirements of the selected safety standard except as modified by any requirements to the contrary in Part 5 of the TDG Regulations Within each safety standard, many particular ‘specifications' of container are described as well as rules prescribing the permitted container specifications for the dangerous goods to be transported;
  • if shipping to a foreign destination, consider any requirements that would apply in the destination country;
  • if shipping by aircraft, consider any specific requirements for that mode in Part 12 of the TDG Regulations.

Periodic Requalification of Containers

Periodic retesting (requalification) is required by the safety standards for most types of means of containment. A container subject to periodic requalification must not be filled nor refilled unless it is within its specified retest period. With some exceptions, an already filled container that becomes due for retest may continue in use without testing, but it must not be refilled unless requalified.

Transport Canada Registration

Only facilities registered by Transport Canada are allowed to manufacture, assemble, requalify or repair Standardized Means of Containment. For some container types the standards also require functions like design review or in-plant inspection to be done by persons or agencies registered by Transport Canada. You may search our database for facilities registered by Transport Canada in your area. Transport Canada gives a Certificate of Registration to each registered facility and issues a registered mark that must be applied to each container that the facility works on.

Participate in Container Standards Development

All of the TDG container standards are subject to updating and improvement. In addition, we are now working on projects to develop new standards for container types not previously covered under the TDG program. Each of the container standards is developed and maintained by a committee that makes decisions by consensus of committee members. Standards committes have memberships that are balanced between representatives of producers; users; regulators and general interest. We encourage stakeholders to participate in container standards development work by becoming committee members, by attending committee meetings as guests or by sending issues for consideration at committee meetings. As a committee member, you would attend meetings and review and vote on proposed changes to the standard. Your input would contribute to establishing sound and practicable regulatory requirements for promotion of public safety. Please contact Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) by phone at 819-956-7430, or the Canadian Standards Association by phone at 416-747-2322.

Development of Standards for New Container Types

New Standards for Container Types container types not previously covered by the TDG Regulations and Standards

Two Canadian standards setting out requirements for UN cylinders, tubes and multiple element gas containers (MEGCs) for compressed gases have been developed and published. As well a Canadian standard setting out the design, manufacture, testing and certification of UN portable tanks in Canada has been published. These new standards have been adopted under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations.