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Model regulations of the United Nations for the transport of dangerous goods on land

Packaged dangerous goods are carried across borders worldwide. For this reason, safety standards must apply globally and must combine many different legal areas. Globally uniform standards not only reduce formalities, they also facilitate transition from one mode of transport to another, e.g. when loading a sea container from China onto the railway in Germany. For this reason, a committee of experts for the transport of dangerous goods was set up at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. For decades now, the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the so-called "Orange Book" have been developed by this committee.

UN Recommendations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods

These recommendations for all countries of the world are not directly legally binding. They are addressed to governments and international organisations which are responsible for ensuring the safe transport of dangerous goods. Mainly, they consist of the "Model Regulations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods". They are structured in such a way that it is possible to transfer them directly into national or sectoral regulations (e.g. for European road traffic). At the same time, they provide sufficient flexibility to enable the necessary supplements to be included in specific regulations.

The regulative area of the model regulations includes the criteria and classification rules for the nine dangerous goods classes, the internationally binding directory of goods classified as dangerous with currently close to 3,500 entries, general requirements on packaging, labelling and documentation, as well as references to suitable test methods. The test methods are summarised in a separate directory, the "UN Manual of Tests and Criteria".

The model regulations, a revised version of which is published every two years, last appeared in 2011 in the 17th edition. In order to adapt them and to reflect new experiences and knowledge, the Subcommittee for the Transport of Dangerous Goods, in which Germany is represented by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS), convenes twice every year.

Tasks of the BfR

The BfR advises the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development on the further development of these recommendations, and the German delegation at the UN consultations in matters of health risks.


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