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MTA's at Harvard

Shipping Biologicals


from EH&S website: Shipments of hazardous materials and dangerous goods are regulated by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Individuals who package, label, transport, or prepare shipper's declarations must complete transportation/shipping training every 2 years and follow all DOT/IATA regulations.
EH&S shipping hazardous materials


  • Per's preferred method: Cut out tiny (~2x2mm) piece of Whatman paper, place on small (~1x1cm) piece of Parafilm, spot plasmid DNA on filter, fold Parafilm over filter, tape to sheet of paper with written description of plasmid.

ALSO: BiteSizeBio how-to


Consult the "Strains & Plasmids" binder above Per's desk for shipping instructions (reiterated here) and materials.

  • All files {filename} referred to in the instructions can be found in: PAULSSON LAB\Inventory_Safety_etc\Shipping\
  • You are the "person responsible" unless the recipient has agreed to take this responsibility, in which case their phone number should be on the outside of the shipping box.
  • Domestic and International shipments should be treated the same way except for step 6 below.

1. Our E.coli and yeast strains are non-pathogenic can be shipped as "UN3373, Biological substance, Class B".

2. Use packing instructions 650. Consult the "Strains & Plasmids" binder above Per's desk to find out what this means.

3. Print 2 copies of the Packing List using the template Word file {packing list template}.

4a. Enclose one copy of the Packing List inside the outermost container.
4b. Place the other copy in the "SENT" section of the "Strains & Plasmids" binder at Per's desk.

5. Properly mark & label the outer shipping box. Homemade UN3373 labels are available in the "Strains & Plasmids" binder at Per's desk, and in {shipping label template}.

Fill out a FedEx Airbill for each shipment:
6a. For domestic shipments the words "UN3373, Biological substance, Category B, ___ grams" must be written just above the Dry Ice info section of the Airbill, and the box in Section 6 beside "Yes: Shipper's Declaration not required" should be checked. An example can be found in {domestic_example}.

6b. For International shipments, use an Expanded Service International Air Waybill. An example can be found in {international_example}. You must also fill out a Commercial Invoice, which you can fin in the "Strains & Plasmids" binder or in {Commercial Invoice}. Make 4 copies of the Commercial Invoice, 1 for us and 3 for FedEx.

7. Make a copy of the FedEx Airbill to include in the "SENT" section of the "Strains & Plasmids" binder at Per's desk.

8. Email the recipient the FedEx tracking number.

Documentation summary

  • In "SENT" section of the "Strains & Plasmids": copy of filled-out Airbill, Packing List, and Commercial Invoice.
  • In shipping box: Packing List.
  • In pouch along with Airbill
    • Domestic: nothing
    • International: 3 copies of Commercial Invoice