Changes to Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulation in Canada

By Corie Doyle
Last updated: April 12, 2022
Key Takeaways

Canada’s federal transport regulator has been making changes that touch many aspects of the transport of dangerous goods in Canada.

Canada’s federal transport regulator has been making changes that touch many aspects of the transport of dangerous goods within the country. These regulations keep changing, which makes staying up to date and compliant more difficult. On top of that, the Fall/Winter 2020 Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) newsletter highlights some of the new developments.


As inconvenient as these changes can be, recent TDG incidents have shed light on the need to update a number of aspects of marking/labeling, release reporting, and shipping of new products such as lithium batteries.

The Need for Safe Handling of Dangerous Goods

Transport Canada conducted a study in October of 2019 that analyzed the effects of normal handling on goods marked as dangerous when compared with regular goods. The study found that environmental conditions such as humidity, vibration, and large drops have an adverse effect on the safe handling of packages containing lithium-ion batteries.


The packages in the test followed the worldwide safe handling protocols outlined in subsection UN 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria for environmental conditions during transport. The study provided recommendations such as improved packaging and exposure to environmental conditions. Research surrounding these issues is ongoing through the TDG Program.

Some New Developments to TDG Regulations

1. Shipping Document Information

The information on a shipping document must be easy to identify and legible. The driver transporting dangerous goods must carry a shipping document, waste manifest, and other relevant documents.

Part 3.5(c) of the TDG Regulations includes information that must be included on a Shipping Document. Specifically, the description of each of the dangerous goods, in the following order:

  • i. The UN number
  • ii. The shipping name and immediately after the shipping name unless it is already part of it.
    • For dangerous goods that are subject to a special provision 16 in Schedule 2 of the Federal TDG Regulation, the technical name, in parentheses of at least one of the most dangerous substances that predominantly contribute to the hazards posed by the dangerous goods, and
    • For a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that has not been odorized, the words “Not Odorized” or “Not Odourized” or “Sans Odorisant”
  • iii. The primary class, which may be shown as a number only or under the heading ‘Class’ or following the word ‘Class;’
  • iv. The compatibility group for dangerous goods with a primary class of Class 1, Explosives, The subsidiary class(es), in parentheses, which may be shown as a number only or under the heading ‘subsidiary class’ or following the words ‘subsidiary class;’
  • v. The packing group roman numeral which may be shown under the heading ‘PG’ or following the letters ‘PG’ or following the words ‘Packing Group’, and
  • vi. For dangerous goods that are subject to special provision 23 in Schedule 2, the words “toxic by inhalation” or “toxic-inhalation hazard” or “toxique par inhalation” or “toxicite par inhalation”

2. Lithium Batteries

Transport Canada’s website describes the common types of lithium batteries and cells and regulatory requirements for importing and transporting them:

  • It is forbidden to ship damaged lithium batteries or cells by air
  • In Canada, the shipping and importing of lithium batteries are subject to the TDG Act, 1992 and its regulations
  • Like gasoline, propane, and sulfuric acid, they are considered dangerous goods

According to Section 2.43.1 (1), lithium cells and batteries must meet the following conditions for a person to handle, offer for transport, or transport them (under certain shipping names):

  • The cell or battery type passes each test set out in subsection 38.3 of Part III of the Manual of Tests and Criteria
  • Each cell or battery has a safety venting device or is designed to prevent a violent rupture under normal conditions of transport
  • Each cell or battery is equipped to prevent external short circuits; and
  • Each battery containing cells or a series of cells connected in parallel is equipped with diodes, fuses, or other devices that prevent dangerous reverse current flow

Danatec’s industry experts have published a comprehensive summary of regulatory changes related to the transport of lithium batteries.

3. Release Reporting

Part 8 gives the reporting requirements, including quantities that need to be reported, conditions under which events must be reported, and the contact information for who must be notified of releases.

The following is a summary of some of the major changes that are now in effect.

  1. Section 8.2 – Emergency reporting by the person required to report a release or anticipated release of dangerous goods in excess of quantity set out in the quantity table. Annex F contains a list of local authorities responsible for responding to emergencies.
  2. Section 8.3 – Information to be included in an emergency report
  3. Section 8.4 – Release or anticipated release report – road, rail, or marine. The section details who must be contacted if there is a death, injuries that require medical attention, evacuation of people, or closure of a facility used in loading or unloading dangerous goods or a road, railway line, or the main waterway
  4. Section 8.5 – This section gives the information to be included in a release or anticipated release report – road, rail, or marine
  5. Section 8.6 – 30-day follow-up report. The person who made the report in section 8.4 must make a follow-up report in writing to the Minister within 30 days
  6. Section 8.7 – Information to be included in a 30-day follow-up report
  7. Section 8.8 – 30–day follow-up report – notice and retention of the report. If any information in the initial 30-day report has changed within one year of the initial report they must notify the Director-General and the report must be kept for two years from the date it was made
  8. Section 8.9 to 8.16 deal with dangerous goods accident or incident report – Air
  9. Section 8.16 – deals with loss or theft report for specific dangerous goods reporting
  10. Section 8.17 – Information to be included in a loss or theft report
  11. Section 8.18 – Unlawful interference report
  12. Section 8.19 – Information to be included in an unlawful interference report

Emergency Response Guide

The Emergency Response Guide (ERG) is a tool used to assist first responders in quickly identifying hazards posed by the materials when an accident involves dangerous goods.

The 2020 edition includes the following updates:

  • Information on how to use the safety recommendations and ERGs
  • A comprehensive review of the guides for products and additional cautionary advice
  • An expansion of the glossary of new terms and definitions
  • New sections on documentation and heat-induced tears on tank cars
  • New visual identifiers for quicker access to information

There have been significant updates to the Emergency Response Guide (ERG) for 2016. The most substantial changes are expanded and added sections of information related to GHS and rail. There are also new tables for distances to be maintained from a variety of releases.

Overpack and Marks

When a safety mark is required by Part 4 of the TDG Regulations, the overpack must display the word "overpack" or "suremballage" at all times. If the safety marks on the small means of containment are not visible through the overpack, the overpack must also display the primary class label and subsidiary class label for each of the dangerous goods in the overpack, the shipping name, and the UN number.

If the capacity is greater than or equal to 64 cubic feet the above markings on the outside of the overpack must be displayed on two opposite sides. TDGR 4.10.1 (1) (marks on small means of containment) implies that markings on each package must be visible to avoid the need to reproduce them on the overpack. It also requires the use of an overpack mark regardless of the type of overpack whenever the safety marks are not visible from the outside of the overpack.

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Written by Corie Doyle | Product Development Manager

Corie Doyle

Corie is a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, and keeping her family and friends safe is the foundation for her passion for safety.

She began her career as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist in British Columbia, then moved into radiochemical production and safety.

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