Proposed Changes to Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations

May 13, 2019 | Jaclyne Reive

Transport Canada has requested written comments on its proposed amendments to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (“TDGR”) on or before May 27, 2019.[i]

Canada regularly updates the TDGR in an effort to harmonize with the United Nations Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (“UN Recommendations”) as well as the United States’ dangerous goods framework. The goals of harmonization are to ensure consistency between different modes of transport, to facilitate international trade, and to reduce the regulatory burden on Canadian consignors and carriers who deal with dangerous goods in Canada.

The proposed changes to the TDGR would harmonize it with the 20th edition of the UN Recommendations in connection with safety marks, classification information, shipping names and other special provisions, and by increasing reciprocity and alignment with US regulatory requirements for dangerous goods safety marks.

Transport Canada’s consultation document, “Preliminary Consultation on International Harmonization Updates to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations,”[ii] covers a range of proposed changes to the TDGR. This article will focus on some of the key changes. Interested parties should review the consultation document in more detail to determine if any other proposed changes may be relevant to its operations. For example, there are a number of changes relating to specific UN numbers or dangerous goods (such as lithium batteries).

Writing a Shipping Name

To align more closely with the UN Recommendations and the US Code of Federal Regulations, title 49 (“49 CFR”), Transport Canada proposes amending section 1.3 of Part 1 of the TDGR to add the words “MOLTEN,” “STABILIZED,” and “TEMPERATURE CONTROLLED” to the existing list of qualifying words that can be used after the shipping name of the goods to readily communicate important characteristics of the goods.

Shipping Document Requirements

The TDGR would also be amended to clarify that information that is not specifically identified as being required in the description of the goods is prohibited from being included in such description on the shipping document. This change would be in alignment with both the UN Recommendations and 49 CFR.

Orientation Arrows

The TDGR currently does not include a requirement for orientation arrows to be displayed on a means of containment that contains liquid dangerous goods. Transport Canada intends to add this requirement to Part 4 to increase safety and harmonization with international standards.

Transportation Between Canada and the US

The TDGR currently allows for shipments of dangerous goods from the US into or through Canada by road or rail to be done pursuant to the classifications, markings, placarding, labelling and documentation requirements of 49 CFR; however, the TDGR do not allow a shipment originating in Canada being transported to the US, or being reshipped back to the US, to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR instead of the TDGR. On the other hand, the US allows shipments both to and from Canada to be transported in accordance with the TDGR. Practically speaking, this means that if a shipment originated in the US and was transported to Canada using 49 CFR markings and placards, but was rejected in Canada, the carrier or consignee would be required to change those markings and placards to be in compliance with the TDGR to ship the goods back, rather than simply returning to the US-Canada border with the 49 CFR markings and placards that the shipment originally had displayed.

Transport Canada intends to harmonize and simplify the situation by allowing shipments originating in Canada or being re-shipped to the US to be transported in compliance with the requirements of 49 CFR.

Reshipping Within Canada

Transport Canada proposes to allow US placards to continue to be displayed when dangerous goods are shipped by road or rail from the US past the first destination in Canada. Currently, the TGDR do not allow the use of US placards past the first destination such that two sets of placards are needed to continue to another destination in Canada.

Marking a Means of Containment Containing Non-Odourized LPG

As another attempt to align with 49 CFR, Transport Canada is proposing to amend the TDGR to require that a cylinder, portable tank, highway tank, or tank car containing non-odourized liquefied petroleum gas (“LPG”) be marked with the words “NON-ODOURIZED,” “NOT ODOURIZED,” “NON-ODORIZED,” “NOT ODORIZED” or “SANS ODORISANT.” Currently, only the shipping document requires the identification of non-odourized LPG. These words would also be allowed on a means of containment containing odourized LPG to reduce the burden of adding and removing the mark, based on US studies. The US found that safety was not compromised as  emergency responders would know to take appropriate action if the LPG was odourized even if the mark indicated that the contents were not.

Labels and Placards on an Empty Means of Containment

The TDGR does not allow dangerous goods safety marks to be displayed on a means of containment that is “empty” such that it has not been used and is intended to contain dangerous goods, or has previously contained such goods but has been cleaned, purged of vapours or refilled with a non-dangerous good to eliminate any hazardous substance,. However, 49 CFR allows such markings on an empty container where the markings indicating the presence of dangerous goods are covered or the means of containment is transported inside a closed vehicle.

Transport Canada is considering whether to harmonize this part of the TDGR with 49 CFR, so as to remove additional costs and compliance burdens associated with the removal of the markings. It is considering two options: (i) allow the display of the markings, subject to the same conditions as 49 CFR; or (ii) keep the status quo such that the display of the markings would remain prohibited on an empty means of containment.

Next Steps

If you have questions about how the proposed amendments might impact your operations or wish to provide comments to Transport Canada in response to the consultation, please reach out to a member of our Trade, Transportation and Logistics Group.


[i] “Consultation on the International harmonization updates to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations”, Transport Canada, Online: <https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/transport-canada/corporate/consultations/consultation-international-harmonization-updates-transportation-dangerous-goods-regulations.html>

[ii] The consultation document is available from Transport Canada upon request by email: TDGRegulatoryProposal-TMDPropositionReglementaire@tc.gc.ca.