Shipping and Transportation

Shipping Chemical and Biological Materials

  • Overview

    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 Research Regulatory Support.

Preparing to Ship

  • 1. Importing Research Materials - Formal Entry

    It is highly recommended that you contact U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), well in advance of your shipment or travel date, to discuss the need for a FORMAL ENTRY of your research materials.  They will assist with that decision and provide further instruction. 

    Common situations that require a FORMAL ENTRY include imports that are likely to need a permit or certification such as (but not limited to):

    • Most things presented with a USDA/CDC/FWS/FDA permit
    • Any human origin material or human pathogen material (will likely have CDC requirements)
    • Any wildlife material (will likely have FWS requirements)
    • Any livestock-related material (will likely have USDA/VS requirements)
    • Any plant-disease related material or items to grow (will likely have USDA/PPQ requirements)
    • Anything with particularly high-value, in large quantity, or is suspected to be misappropriated intellectual property
    • Anything that doesn’t have enough information/documentation for us to answer any of the above concerns
    • Anything that is not declared

    CBP can require a FORMAL ENTRY for any research material.  Again we highly recommend that you contact the US CBP to discuss your import process requirements.

  • 2. Material Transfer Agreements

    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

    Note: may take at least 30 days to complete this process

  • 3. 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:

  • 4. Permits

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


When in doubt, PLEASE ASK!

Additional Information