Hazmat Special Permits vs. Special Provisions

Posted on 6/25/2018 by Philip "Flip" De Rea

CFR-and-hazmat-package.gifNo matter which mode you choose for a hazmat shipment—rail, air, vessel, or highway—and no matter which set of regulations you follow to do it—49 CFR, ICAO, IATA, or IMDG—you will encounter special provisions and possibly special permits. And while the two do sound similar, they are actually quite different. You need to know what they are and how to apply them in order to remain compliant with whichever code of regulations you are following. Let’s look at them both.

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What Are Hazmat Special Provisions?

In most cases, special provisions are “adapters”: they adapt the packing instruction (PI) assigned to your material. There are about 3,000 Proper Shipping Names (PSNs), but only a few dozen PIs. That means that multiple materials are often assigned to the same PI. In some cases, your material may not fully match up with the PI, and that’s where special provisions come in. They adapt the PI to your material.

Example: Shipping Sulfuric Acid (UN 1831)

For example: In 49 CFR, “UN 1831, Sulfuric Acid, fuming” is assigned to PI 173.201 and Special Provision N34 when shipped in non-bulk packaging.

PI 173.201 authorizes the use of metal receptacles as an inner packaging and aluminum drums and jerricans as appropriate single packagings, among others. But sulfuric acid reacts negatively with aluminum. This is where Special Provision N34 comes in. It states that materials assigned to N34 may not come in contact with aluminum packagings. Potential crisis averted!

Reliefs Found in Hazmat Special ProvisSpecial-provisions_chart.pngions

Special provisions can further affect packaging (additional quantity limits, identifying forbidden materials), communications (identification, marking/labeling, shipping papers), and the manner of transport (Cargo Aircraft Only).

But special provisions do not always contain restrictions. Sometimes, they provide relief as well. For example, in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), UN 2000, Celluloid, is assigned to Special Provision A205. Special Provision A205 states that table tennis balls manufactured from celluloid are not subject to these regulations [when constructed and packaged within stated quantity limits]. Phew!

Where Do I Find Hazmat Special Provisions?

Alpha-numeric codes for special provisions are found in Column (7) of the 49 CFR 172.101 Table and defined at 49 CFR 172.102; Column (M) of the IATA List of Dangerous Goods and defined in IATA DGR 4.4; and Column (6) of the IMDG Dangerous Goods List and defined in IMDG Code 3.3.

Special provisions should be consulted after you’ve identified your material and before you begin processing it for shipping. Regardless of origin and outcome, the guidance found in a special provision always takes precedence.

Now, what about hazmat special permits? Well, those are a little bit different.

What Are Hazmat Special Permits?

Unlike special provisions, which are included in the text of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), special permits provide an alternative method for complying with existing regulatory requirements. Hazmat special permits are issued to specific, individual shippers and transporters who apply for them.
More specifically, special permits may be issued when a regulated person provides documented proof that an alternative method for complying with existing regulatory requirements achieves a level of safety at least equal to that provided by the existing regulation.

In other words, applying for and being issued a special permit allows your organization to achieve the goals of the hazmat and dangerous goods regulations in a way not already expressly allowed.

Example: Use of Alternate Hazmat Packaging

special-permit-packaging.JPGPerhaps it would be more efficient for your facility to package a material in a way that is not currently authorized. In applying for a special permit, you will provide data that demonstrates how your proposed alternate method of packaging achieves a level of safety at least equal to that provided by the existing regulation. If DOT agrees, the Agency may issue your company a special permit to proceed exactly as you desired.

The US DOT’s process for special permit application, and renewal, can be found at 49 CFR 107.105, along with a listing of special permits that have already been issued. It is possible to apply to become “party” to an existing special permit that has been issued to another company. The transportation ministry of each country has similar systems.

When it comes to shipping internationally, a special permit issued by one competent authority (US DOT, Transport Canada) is not automatically transferable across international borders. Each competent authority must accept and issue you its own special permission.

The use of special permits is usually required to be indicated in the communications (markings, documentation) accompanying the shipment. Also, when using a special permit, any staff who are involved in the administration of the special permit will need training on the permit in addition to their regular 49 CFR training and any applicable mode-specific training (ICAO/IATA, IMDG). Remember to document the additional hazmat training in your records.

Hazardous Materials Shipper Training (49 CFR, IATA, IMDG) Hazmat_shipping_papers.gif

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Tags: 49CFR, hazmat shipping, hazmat training, IATA hazmat training, special permit

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