Shipping Single Packaging by Air

Combination vs. Single Packaging 

When shipping non-bulk dangerous goods, most shippers use either combination or single packaging. Combination packaging is packaging for transport purposes, consisting of one or more inner packagings secured in a non-bulk outer packaging. Below is an example of an inner plastic bottle in an outer 4G box.

On the other hand, single packaging is a non-bulk packaging other than a combination packaging. It is packaging that can be shipped on its own under certain circumstances. Below is an example of a single package, a closed head 5-gallon drum that is UN tested on its own with no other internal packing components.

Steel Closed Head Pail - 5 Gallon

Both single and combination packaging are great options for shipping dangerous goods, but if you are shipping by air, the IATA regulations do not always allow single packages.

Can I use Single Packaging on its own if I’m shipping by Air?

The answer depends on what you are shipping. For example, using the Packing Instructions in IATA, you can determine if single packaging is allowed. Let’s say you have a one-gallon 1A1 closed head steel drum that has been tested as a single package, and you are looking to ship UN1993 PG II by air passenger/cargo.

Section 4.2 in the blue pages (The list of Dangerous Goods) column I sends us to PI 353. As usual, this packing instruction will tell you all of the acceptable packaging that is allowed. However, in this case, it specifically says, “single packagings are not permitted.” So that means you cannot ship your one-gallon UN-tested steel drum as a single package, and this also means you cannot ship this drum in a non-UN overpack, such as placing a bunch of these drums on a pallet and shrink wrapping it, for example. PI 353 specifically calls for a UN-tested combination package. If you were to use this steel drum, it would have to be in a UN combination tested package specifically tested with that type of drum, for example, our PK-MTM11 kit below.

UN 4G Steel Can Shipping Kit - 1 x 1 Gallon (can includes spigot)

On the other hand, if you are shipping UN1993 but PGIII by Passenger/cargo, Section 4.2 column, I will refer you to PI 355, which says “Combination and Single Packaging Permitted.” In this case, it means that you can use either single packaging or combination packaging. You would be able to ship this one-gallon drum by itself as a single package or in a UN-tested combination package. Now it is also important to check with your specific carrier to see if they have any policies that don’t allow shipments of dangerous goods in single packaging as well as the different operator and state variations in IATA section 2.8 just to be safe. If you are looking for single or combination packaging approved to ship by air, contact us at 1-888-442-9628 in the USA or 1-888-977-4834 in Canada.

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IATA Publications
Steel Closed Head Pail - 5 Gallon
Steel Closed Head Pail – 5 Gallon

4G UN Boxes – Combination
UN 4G Steel Can Shipping Kit - 1 x 1 Gallon (can includes spigot)
Fuel Shipping Kits


Michael Zendano

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.