Basic Description vs. Shipping Description—What’s the Difference?
According to the request, submitted by the Dangerous Goods Trainers Association (DGTA), the use of the terms “basic description” and “shipping description” raise questions for hazmat shippers when filling out shipping papers and offering a hazmat consignment.
What Is a Basic Description?
The “basic description” is the core of hazmat shipping documentation and is made up of the following four elements, in order:
- Identification Number
- Proper Shipping Name
- Hazard Class or Division
- Packing Group (if applicable)
What Is a Shipping Description?
The Code of Federal Regulations lists requirements for a “shipping description”—a more comprehensive description of the shipment. The requirements for the full “shipping description” include the basic description described above and other information about the shipment like the quantity of material, mass, packaging type, number of packages, and any words required to further describe the material. [49 CFR 172.202]
Because the terms “basic description” and “shipping description” have similar meanings, and because the regulations themselves often simply use the word “description” in reference to specific requirements, DGTA suggests explicitly defining these terms in the regulations to make it more clear to shippers which meaning is being referenced at any time in the rules. The association has recommended the following definitions be added to 49 CFR 171.8:
Basic description means the information comprising the identification number, Proper Shipping Name, primary and subsidiary hazard class(es) or division(s), and packing group, when applicable, as prescribed in §172.202(a), (b), (c), and (d) of this subchapter.
Shipping description means the information required to describe a hazardous material on a shipping paper including the basic description and the additional information prescribed in §172.202 and §172.203 of this subchapter.
DGTA also recommends places in the regulations where “shipping description” can be added to further clarify the hazmat shipping documentation requirements.
Clarifying this part of the regulations may help to dispel confusion among shippers about which “description” is which, and which to use in order to comply with specific HMR requirements when offering a hazmat shipment.
Expert Hazmat Shipper Training, Nationwide and Online 24/7
Be confident your hazmat shipments are safe and in compliance with the latest DOT rules with interactive hazmat workshops,online courses, and webinars at Lion.com. For hazmat shipping managers and personnel, staying up-to-date with rule changes is critical. Missing a single mandate can lead to rejected shipments, incidents in transit, and the risk of your materials entering the wrong hands. Per 49 CFR 172.704, hazmat employee training is required within 90 days for new employees, at least once every three years thereafter, and when regulations change that affect your employees’ jobs.
Find a Post
The instructor was very very informative, helpful, understandable and pleasant. This course answered many questions I had, being new to this industry.
I really enjoyed this training. Even after years on both sides of the comprehension coin, I find myself still learning! The quality of the delivery exceeded much of the training I have received in the past.
Having the tutorial buttons for additional information was extremely beneficial.
We have a very busy work schedule and using Lion enables us to take the course at our own time. It makes it easy for me to schedule my employees' training.
Hazmat Shipping Professional
Lion's training was by far the best online RCRA training I've ever taken. It was challenging and the layout was great!
Hazardous Waste Professional
Best course instructor I've ever had. Funny, relatable, engaging; made it interesting and challenged us as the professionals we are.
One of the best trainings I have ever received!
I like the consistency of Lion workshops. The materials are well put together and instructors are top notch!
Permitting, Compliance & Environmental Manager
Amazing instructor; real-life examples. Lion training gets better every year!
The price was reasonable, the time to complete the course was manageable, and the flexibility the online training allowed made it easy to complete.
Hazmat Shipping Professional
Download Our Latest Whitepaper
Use this guide to spot which tanks and substances are regulated under EPA's Underground Storage Tank program, and which are excluded as of October 2018.