Shipping Chemical and Biological Materials

Materials listed below are items that may be regulated for transport and require specific packaging, labeling and documentation. The shipper must have documented training relative to his or her tasks associated with the shipment, ensures that materials are properly classified, and all applicable regulatory provisions for the shipment are met.

  • Chemicals
  • Diagnostic specimens (from humans or animals)
  • Cultures of infectious substances (infectious to humans and/or animals)
  • Plant pathogens and plant materials
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Dry ice

Impact of Non-compliance

  • Refusal or return of packages during the shipping process. This could be critical if materials are temperature sensitive
  • Result in fines from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Increased risk of material release during the shipping process

Hazardous Materials and Your Luggage

Pack Safe - Spending 5 minutes checking your luggage for hazardous materials gets us all there safer.

Q: "I would rather just carry my materials onto the airplane with me. Can I do this?"

A: Please review the 2006 Memo on Travel with or Transportation of Research-Related Materials and Data (PDF) from the Sr. Assistant VP for Regulatory Affairs.

Preparing to Ship

1. Material Transfer Agreements – may take at least 30 days to complete this process

Before you send your shipment it is important that you contact MSU Technologies to ensure that the appropriate agreements are completed and processed.

  • The intellectual property rights of the receiving and the providing organization are addressed
  • Any special shipping needs are handled
  • The University has a record of the types of materials that are entering our campus
  • Any health and safety risks are identified and addressed

You can contact MSU Technologies at 355-2186, or you can view their website at

2. Export Controls and Trade Sanctions

Exports are any items (commodities, software, technology, select biological agents) sent from the United States to a foreign destination. Exports are also the release or sharing of restricted technology or data - orally or in writing - with non-U.S. citizen foreign nationals inside or outside the U.S.

Some chemicals, biologics and select agents are export controlled and unauthorized access by restricted parties (e.g., a deemed export) may be a violation of export control laws. Export control laws require that licenses be obtained for exports, including "deemed" exports, of these sensitive items (e.g., defense articles, restricted technology with military applications, select agents), unless an exemption exists.

Export control laws may apply when one or more of the following concerns pertain to your research project:

  • It has actual or potential military applications, including dual use items (i.e., commercial items with potential military application)
  • The destination country, organization, or individual is restricted by federal law
  • The declared or suspected end use or the end user of the export compromises national security
  • Economic protection issues are associated with the destination country

If you have questions about whether there are export controls issues associated with your activity, contact:

The Office of Export Controls and Trade Sanctions
Phone: 517-432-4499

Additional information available on the MSU Export Controls Web Site:

3. Permits

The CDC, USDA and other regulatory agencies require permits for shipping certain etiological agents and other materials.

When in doubt, PLEASE ASK!

  • Biological materials shipping requirements, contact Jamie Willard (517-353-1877), Stephanie Smith-Edwards (517-574-8766), or Kristen Bullard (517-353-6710) at EHS.
  • Chemical shipping requirements, contact Nathan Maher (517-884-6185) at University Stores.
  • Proper classification of chemical shipments, contact EHS (517-355-0153).
  • Material Transfer Agreement requirements, contact MSU Technologies (517-355-2186).
  • Export controls issues, contact The Office of Export Controls and Trade Sanctions (517-432-4499).

For additional information, please select one of the following: