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Carrying dangerous goods: What does a transport document (ADR) look like?

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The so-called “transport document” is a prescribed document for every transport of dangerous goods. What is somewhat tricky about this is that although the ADR does not in principle prescribe any specific formal standards for transport documents, the content information that must be listed is very precisely regulated (see section 5.4.1 ADR). It is essential that all the necessary information for checking the loaded goods is available in full.

The specifications regarding contents and the completion of the transport document repeatedly lead to questions and ambiguities. Therefore, we would like to provide you with an example of a transport document template for dangerous goods in this article.

When must a transport document be carried?

As a rule, every transport of dangerous goods by road and rail must be accompanied by a transport document. It contains information about the dangerous goods being transported, the origin and the destination of the dangerous goods.

The following documents can be considered as a transport document:

  • Delivery bill
  • Loading list
  • Waste consignment bill
  • commercial invoice
  • other own document

Why is a well-structured transport document so important?

As just described, there are several types of documents that may be considered as a transport document. No particular form is prescribed. However, the question that should also be asked at this point is the following: For whom is the transport document actually (still) important?

Please note: Among other things, the transport document also serves to provide information in the event of an accident or incident! This means that rescue services such as the fire department or paramedics, for example, also rely on it when you arrive at the scene of an accident involving dangerous goods. If, for example, any liquids leak or pieces of freight burn in a cargo hold, then without the information of a transport document it can only be determined at avoidable risk (if at all) what the actual hazard is. In such cases, the provision of a clear, complete transport document can really save lives and minimize risks to an extreme degree!

Exemptions and facilitations in the transport document

As with any rule, there are of course exceptions to this one: If certain special regulations or exemptions apply, a transport document does not always have to be carried when dangerous goods are transported. Likewise, it may be that due to certain facilitations not all information must be listed in detail, or may be omitted.

Examples of exemptions or facilitations:

  • Transport of dangerous goods in customary quantities by private persons.
  • Transport of dangerous goods by companies in the course of their own main activity and under 1000 points (“craftsman regulation”, important: the transport must be related to another activity for which the dangerous goods are used. Ex: solvent for the painter, lubricant for the fitter).
  • Transport of dangerous goods in Limited Quantity

Transport of dangerous goods: Limited Quantity (“LQ”) or Exempted Quantity (“EQ”).

Learn more whether you can benefit from this rule with our Limited Quantity Calculator!

The exact details on exemptions can be found in section 1.1.3 Exemptions in ADR.

Important: Everyone who transports dangerous goods or is involved in the dangerous goods process must be instructed according to ADR 1.3. This also applies if facilitations are used. The only exceptions are private persons when transporting goods in commercial quantities/under 1000 points. You need an instruction? Register here and participate!

Contents of the transport document (ADR)

The prescribed documents (delivery note/waybill/etc.) must be carried in full for each transport operation regulated by the ADR. The content of the transport document must be legible. Upper and lower case letters can be freely chosen.

The following information must be entered in the transport document in this order:

  • UN number – prefixed with “UN” (to be found in section 3.2 ADR) e. g. UN 1098
  • Substance name – official name of the substance or article (according to 3.1.2) e.g. allyl alcohol
  • Danger label – number of the danger label sample; if several numbers, then the numbers after the first number in brackets; if no danger label number, then indicate class e.g. 6.1 (3)
  • Packing group – if any – assigned packing group (if any) preceded by the letters “VG” e.g. I or also VG I
  • Tunnel restriction code – to be found in Table A, Chapter 3.2 column 15. The code must be entered in the transport document in capital letters to be placed in brackets. e.g. (C/D)
  • By the way: since 01.01.2021, if no tunnel restriction code has been assigned to the dangerous goods in column 15, this must be documented by the entry “(-)”.

In our example, this results in the entry: UN 1098, Allyl alcohol, 6.1 (3), I, (C/D) or UN 1098, Allyl alcohol, 6.1 (3), VG I, (C/D).

The following information must also occur – but here the order is not so strictly regulated:

  • Packages – if applicable – number and description of packages. The description of a package means the type of packaging. e.g. 2 canisters of 10l each.
  • Note: A package is always a packaging that completely encloses the goods. A pallet or wire mesh box is therefore not a package.
  • UN packaging codes may only be indicated as a supplement to the description – e.g. one crate (4G).
  • Total Quantity – Net total quantity of each dangerous good with a different UN number, different official name, or different packing group. For dangerous goods in appliances or equipment, the quantity to be declared is the total quantity of dangerous goods contained therein in kilograms or liters. e.g. 20l
  • Consignor/consignee – name and address
  • Special agreement – declaration according to the provisions of a special agreement.

What happens when an official designation has multiple entries?

The selection of the official designation can then be a problem if there are several entries. An example is UN 1263 with two entries: “COLOR” and “COLOR SUPPLIES”. Only one name may appear in the transport document, i.e. COLOR or COLOR SUPPLIES.

Also tricky: substances with the addition “n.o.s.”. This is how it looks in Table A Section 3.2 ADR:


For some substances, an n.o.s. is added after the name of the substance (“not otherwise specified”). This addition is part of the official substance designation and must therefore be entered in the transport document. After n.o.s., the technical designation must always be given in brackets, i.e. the substance that triggers the hazard. This can be found in the safety data sheet.


UN 2902 Pesticide, liquid, toxic, n.o.s. (Drazoxolone),6.1,I,(C/E)

Special conditions for limited quantities

  • If a package does not exceed the quantity limit in column 7a


  • the packaging consists of inner and outer packaging and
  • the packages are marked accordingly,

the information on the transport document may be reduced. Only the gross weight is to be indicated.

Z. B.: Gross weight limited quantities according to ADR 3.4: 20 KG.

You want to know if your dangerous goods can be transported within the Limited Quantity? Use our free Limited Quantity Checker!

Enter transport points in the transport document

The transport category tells with which factor the weight (net in KG or liters) is multiplied.

Carrying dangerous goods: What does a transport document (ADR) look like? | ProSafeCon
Promotion category and associated factor for determining the score

With a weight of 5 KG and a promotion category of 1, the calculation is as follows:

5 KG x 50 points = 250 points.

The points must be shown on the transport document per transport category:

Carrying dangerous goods: What does a transport document (ADR) look like? | ProSafeCon
Possible representation of a points overview in the promotion paper

The amount of points determines whether the transport is exempt or not. In this context, exempted transport means that not all the requirements of the ADR have to be observed – but many of them do. Important for the driver: if the total number of points is up to and including 1,000, he does not have to have an “ADR certificate” and does not have to open an orange warning sign.

In our article on the 1000-point rule? you can learn more about the details of calculating the dangerous goods points. Our specially developed 1000-point calculator will also help you with the specific calculation of your case!

Supplements: If a dangerous good is classified as environmentally hazardous (for details see safety data sheet), this must be stated in the transport document.

Other possible entries in the transport document

If hazardous goods are transported in the form of waste or empty, uncleaned packaging, for example, this must also be listed as a note on the transport document. Even if special regulations or facilitations are used, this must be noted accordingly.

“Waste” between UN No. and official nameHazardous waste transport.
Gross quantity (in kg) of Limited QuantityLimited Quantity
No specified contentLi-Io batteries acc. to SV 188
Before or after official designation: “empty, uncleaned”Uncleaned packaging, containers, tanks, etc.

This list is only a small excerpt of examples – there are a lot of special regulations in the ADR, which lead to further entries in the transport document. It should also be noted that the regulations for transport documents for other modes of transport (sea freight / IMDG Code, air freight / IATA) are in part much stricter and more precisely regulated.

Do you need assistance in preparing transport documents correctly? Please contact us! We will be glad to help you.

Penalties for errors in the transport document

Since the information in the transport document provides important information about the goods being transported, which can even save lives in the event of an accident, for example, errors are punished accordingly and are subject to fines.

Faulty documents primarily violate the duties of the consignor (§18 GGVSEB).

A misdemeanor within the meaning of § 10 (1) no. 1 letter b of the Dangerous Goods Transport Act is committed by anyone who intentionally or negligently fails to ensure that an indication is entered in the transport document:

If the sender does not ensure that

  • it is ensured that an indication in the transport document is entered correctly or completely (relevant information) (Category I violation).

this costs 500 EURO fine for the sender

  • one item of information is entered in full in the transport document (other missing information than under 9.1) (Category II infringement)

this costs 200 EURO fine for the sender

By the way, the person who prepares and signs the transport document is responsible for the information and completeness of the document.

Transport document dangerous goods template – how to make your transport document look good

In summary, it can be said that it is not exactly little what a transport document must contain. Even though there are no basic formal requirements, there are some things that must be observed in terms of content, otherwise there is a risk of fines.

A ready-made template for a transport document for dangerous goods helps to save time and to be on the safe side in case of an inspection. In our example of a template for the transport document for dangerous goods, you can see how you can structure a transport document well.

Carrying dangerous goods: What does a transport document (ADR) look like? | ProSafeCon
Sample for a transport document with all prescribed information (German)

You want to create a template for your transport document and need support? Get in touch with us!

The electronic transport document

Of course, digitization is not bypassing the area of dangerous goods. For some time now, it has also been possible and permissible to carry the transport document as an electronic document. For practical purposes, it is important to note the following:

  • Not all methods are allowed, but must be specifically approved. It is not enough to simply send the driver a document (e.g. PDF) of the transport document on his smartphone!
  • Despite a digital transport document, the consignor must also be able to provide the carrier with the information in the form of a paper document. Here again, attention must be paid to the order and completeness of the information.

Summary to the transport document for dangerous goods

  1. A transport document must be carried with every transport of dangerous goods. This can also be in the form of a delivery bill, a loading list or a commercial invoice, for example. The completeness of the required information is important.
  2. The following information must be included in the transport document in the following order: UN number (with UN in front), substance name, hazard label specimen (no.), packing group and tunnel restriction code.
  3. Other mandatory information: Packages, total quantity, consignor/consignee, special agreements.
  4. Errors in the transport document result in fines of between €200 and €500.
  5. It is useful to have a template at hand so as not to forget any important information. Do you need help with the preparation? Contact us!

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Carrying dangerous goods: What does a transport document (ADR) look like? | ProSafeCon

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