Skip to main content

If you look at the outside of a typical UN-rated 4G Box, most often you will see a set of orientation arrows printed on both sides of the box. In addition to UN markings, logos, and certification stamps, the orientation arrows have become a standard marking on a UN-rated box. But are these arrows required to be on the outside of UN-rated 4G boxes, and what are the various requirements across the various regulations?  

TDG and 49CFR

For TDG, the current requirements for orientation arrows are simple, there are none. TDG does not yet have a requirement for orientation arrows on a means of containment, however, there has been talk of adding this as a requirement in the near future. In the United States, per the 49CFR 172.312, each non-bulk combination package with inner packagings containing liquid hazardous materials, single packaging fitted with vents, or open cryogenic receptacles intended for the transport of refrigerated liquefied gases must all be legibly marked with package orientation arrows. The marking must be similar to the illustration below on two opposite vertical sides of the package with the arrows pointing in the correct upright direction. The arrows must be either black or red on white or other suitable contrasting background and proportionate to the size of the package. Depicting the rectangular border around the arrows is optional. 

There are some cases where these arrows are not required, all which are located at 172.312 (c) including non-bulk inner packagings which are cylinders, liquids in manufactured articles which are leak-tight, and hermetically sealed inner packagings not exceeding 500 ml to name a few.  


If you are shipping by air, the requirements for orientation arrows can be found in section of the IATA regulations. Per IATA, orientation arrows must be used on combination packaging on two opposite sides and overpacks containing liquid dangerous goods. There are some exceptions, for example if inner packagings are 120 ml or less and surrounded by absorbent, dangerous goods in gas-tight inner packagings 500 ml or less, radioactive materials, and infectious substances in primary receptacles not exceeding 50 ml. The marking must be either red or black and must conform to figures 7.4.D and 7.4.E in IATA which includes a minimum size of 74mm x 105mm. This specific sizing requirement is the main difference between IATA and the domestic regulations as you will not see reference to a specific size of the orientation arrows in the 49CFR.  


If you are shipping internationally by Sea, IMDG code section requires orientation arrows for combination packaging having inner packagings of liquid dangerous goods, single packagings with vents, cryogenic receptacles intended for the transport of refrigerated liquified gases, and machinery or apparatus containing liquid dangerous goods. They are not required on outer packaging containing pressure receptacles, outer packaging that contains inner packaging not more than 120 ml as long as there is sufficient absorbent, 6.2 substances in primary receptacles not more than 50 ml, outer packaging containing articles which are leak tight in all orientations, and outer packaging containing hermetically sealed inner packaging each containing no more than 500 ml. The arrows can be black or red on a suitable contrasting background and meet specifications of ISO 780: 1997.  

Stay up to date and sign up for our newsletter!

We have all the products, services and training you need to ensure your staff is properly trained and informed.

Orientation Arrows Labels

IATA DG Regulations 

4GV UN Variation Box
15.25″ x 15.25″ x 15.25″
Michael Zendano

Michael Zendano started with ICC Compliance Center back in 2016 with several years in the packaging field as a Quality Control Manager. In addition, he has 8 years experience in teaching. Michael works at the Niagara Falls Office as the Regulatory Packaging Expert where he manages packaging projects and procedures and is a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IOPP) and The Chemical Packaging Committee (CPC) . Degrees: M.S. Science of Education.

Welcome to ICC

Which site would you prefer?