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5 Things You Probably Don't Know About IATA

If your organization ships hazardous materials by air, IATA likely plays a significant role in avoiding regulatory violations, emergency situations, and package rejections/shipping delays. Because it is a confusing topic for many, we’ve outlined the top 5 things you should know about IATA.

1.) It’s a policy NOT a regulation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association of the world’s airlines. While IATA itself cannot enforce the regulations it has created, the airlines and the Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can and do.

The Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) IATA has established incorporates a worldwide, United Nations-based standard for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air, known as the ICAO Technical Instructions. They’ve also added some of their own provisions into the DGR.

Many sections of the DGR are also DOT regulations and are therefor enforceable in the U.S. The DOT incorporates the ICAO Technical Instructions by reference for international shipments. IATA also incorporates those ICAO provisions. Becoming trained in IATA helps employees understand not just DOT or ICAO standards, but gives them a more complete perspective on how they all work together.

In order to create consistency among themselves and the countries they service, airlines have adopted the DGR for both domestic and international shipments (with the exception of United Parcel Service for domestic only). This is significant for a shipper because if an airline (operator) uses the DGR by policy, then the offeror must comply with the DGR when preparing the shipment. Failure to comply could result in an enforcement action or just a rejected shipment, depending upon the specific provision that was not followed. Even if the operator does not use DGR by policy itself, IATA regulations are still relevant as they relate to the DOT and the FAA.

2. If you need IATA training, you ALSO need DOT training

IATA training is not a stand-alone curriculum, but rather is considered to be a “function-specific” supplement to DOT training. The training requirements outlined in the DOT regulations (49 CFR 172.700-704) include a provision which states that the employer must provide training in a sufficient degree of detail and specificity for the tasks performed by the employee.

There are many provisions of the DOT regulations that are not addressed by IATA or DOT regulations that appear without much context or explanation. For these reasons, employees offering IATA-prepared shipments require both trainings.

3. It’s not just for international shipping

Because the IATA DGR is a trade association standard, airlines are free to adopt these internationally-based regulations for domestic use. With the exception of United Parcel Service (UPS), all of the major passenger and cargo operators have done so. This means if an employer ships hazardous materials by air, more than likely those employees responsible for preparing the shipments will require IATA training.


4. It's contents are not available online

IATA has copyrighted the DGR. Therefore, unlike government regulations, it is not available for free online and must be purchased. Many times when you sign up for a training there is an option to purchase a copy of the regulations as well. We recommend purchasing a copy as it can be very useful for reference after a training.

5. The stakes are high for non-compliance

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is tasked with enforcement of the hazardous materials regulations with regard to air shipments. Due to the serious consequences of improperly prepared hazmat shipments, the FAA is vigorous in its scrutiny of air shipments and enforcement of the requirements. In the past two years combined the FAA has issued $10.49M in fines for 699 violations.

Additionally, hazardous materials specialists working for the airlines are typically vigilant about rejecting non-compliant shipments, even for the slightest discrepancy.

If you’re in need of IATA training, review our calendar of upcoming sessions and sign up for one today. 

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