Rules for Placarded Hazmat Shipments

Posted on 3/17/2015 by Marc Kleinman

A hazmat placard is the most recognizable sign that a truck, train, or shipping container is carrying material that may be dangerous to the public and the environment.

All hazmat shippers must meet certain requirements in order to ship any quantity of hazmat. When a quantity of hazardous materials requires a placard, it may trigger several additional requirements for shippers and carriers.


With a few exceptions, any business that ships a quantity of hazmat that requires placarding must register as a hazmat shipper with the US DOT. This registration must be renewed annually.
The yearly Flammable Liquid Hazmat Placardregistration requirements at 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart G state the fee assessments for shippers and carriers. Generally, a separate registration and fee must be submitted for each corporate entity and for each self-employed individual.

Foreign carriers, government agencies, farmers, and Indian tribes as defined at 49 CFR 171.8 are exempted from the annual registration fee. For the fiscal year July 2014 to July 2015, the fee for most companies is $2,600, which includes the $25 application fee. PHMSA's website offers further information and online registration.

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

According to 49 CFR 383.5 and 383.98, in order to haul placarded hazmat loads, a driver must hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a hazmat endorsement. To obtain the hazmat endorsement, drivers have to pass a hazmat knowledge test.

If offering a placarded hazmat load for the first time, shippers should be aware of this requirement and perform due diligence to ensure the driver entrusted with the shipment has the proper knowledge and credentials to safely transport it.

Security Plans

In the wake of September 11, 2001, US DOT added a rule to 49 CFR that required any shipper who offers a placarded hazmat load to maintain a site security plan—a formal written plan for ensuring the security of hazmat shipments. Since then, DOT has adjusted the standard to cover only high-consequence hazmat shipments. For the current list of who needs a security plan, see the updated list at 49 CFR 172.800.

Route Planning

Hazmat carriers must consider one last set of requirements when they transport placarded hazmat loads. To minimize the risk posed by hazardous materials transported on public roads, DOT has instituted certain parking and travel restrictions for carriers. The regulations governing the operation of motor vehicles carrying hazmat are found at 49 CFR 177.

Detours for trucks carrying hazardous cargo are very common on highways to ensure that more dangerous cargo avoids certain bridges and tunnels. In addition to restrictions on the routes they can travel, there can also be restrictions on the hours they can be moving. These restrictions are set by State and municipal authorities.

Expert Hazmat Training for Managers and Employees

If you offer a quantity of hazardous materials that requires a placard, it is critical that you are aware of all US DOT hazmat requirements that may be triggered by the shipment—including providing hazmat training for employees according to 49 CFR 172, Subpart H.

Get up to speed with the latest domestic and international hazmat shipping requirements under 49 CFR, IATA, and IMDG Code regulations at the Multimodal Hazmat Shipper Certification Workshops, presented in cities nationwide. View the full schedule of upcoming hazmat training workshops at or call 888-546-6511.

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping

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