Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) - "Special Case” and “Special Provision” Exemptions
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Canada regulates the transportation of dangerous goods under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Act and regulations. These laws apply to everyone who transports these goods.
The regulations list both “special cases” and “special provisions” which are exemptions that can be used when shipping specific dangerous goods. Most of these exemptions apply to goods that represent a low to medium hazard when transported in small quantities because they present a low risk to the public and the environment.
While most people think of TDG as being an obligation only for businesses or trade, TDG also applies to members of the public when they are transporting dangerous goods for personal use. Examples include when the public transports gasoline in a jerrycan, oxygen gas cylinders (e.g., used for medical purposes, diving, welding, etc.), or propane cylinders (e.g., used for BBQs, welding, etc.). As a result of the exemptions, most people are not aware that they are to (or need to) follow the TDG regulations.
Note: This document is a general overview of the TDG special cases and special provisions (exemptions). The information below is provided as guidance only. Always check the TDG Act and Regulations to ensure compliance.
Please also see the following documents in this series:
If you are a manufacturer, distributor, or an end user (e.g., an employer who has purchased products from a retail store or when shipping product from one workplace location to another location), check the label on the product’s container. If the label contains words such as toxic, poison, corrosive, flammable, gas, compressed gas, contents under pressure, aerosol, oxidizer, reactive, peroxide, unstable, infectious or biohazardous material, then the product might also be considered to be a “dangerous good” when transported.
If you are shipping this product and are not sure if it is a dangerous good, it is suggested that you contact the manufacturer (or supplier) and ask for a proof of TDG classification document. Anyone who ships dangerous goods must have a “proof of classification” document. For information on “proof of classification” see the OSH Answers Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations- Classification. If a proof of classification is not available, the shipper (consigner) must follow the classification requirements in Part 2 of the TDG Regulations.
Note that some Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) may report TDG classifications in Section 14 - Transport information. However, this information may not be listed because under WHMIS 2015 regulations, Section 14 of an SDS is not a mandatory section.
There are both “special provisions” and “special cases” exemptions.
Special provisions may allow an exemption from a certain part of section of the TDG Regulations, or they may add additional requirements. Special provisions are listed in Schedule 1, Column 5. Details about the special provision are outlined in Schedule 2.
Examples of special provisions include packing instructions (such as the good may not be allowed to be packed in the same means of containment with another product), whether a technical name of the good must appear on the shipping document or under what situations, what regulations apply when other circumstances are present (such as the use of a specialized means of containment), etc.
If no special provisions apply, check to see if a special case can be used.
Special cases may allow an exemption from all, some parts, or some sections of the TDG regulations, or give an alternative way to comply. Special cases are listed in Sections 1.15 to 1.50 of Part 1 in the TDG Regulations.
Each special case will have a set of criteria that must be met. Special cases consider:
• the type of dangerous good,
• specific situations, such as on a farm, personal use, etc.,
• whether an Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) is required for that dangerous good,
• how much is being shipped (such as the capacity of the individual means of containment (MOC)), and
• the overall quantity of all the dangerous goods and MOCs that will be shipped together.
The TDG regulations list special case exemptions including:
• By quantity (e.g., 150 kg, 500 kg, limited quantity, excepted quantity, etc.,)
• By use or application (e.g., medical device or article; samples for inspection or investigation; samples for classifying, analysing or testing; samples for demonstration; national defence; etc.)
• By industry (e.g., agriculture/farming; pesticide; anhydrous ammonia for agriculture; etc.)
• By location or specific situations (e.g., transportation at a facility; emergency response; transportation between two properties; etc.)
• By means of containment (e.g., remains on means of transport used, or contained in a fuel tank permanently installed on the means of transport; etc.)
• By method of shipment (e.g., road, air, marine)
• By type of product or dangerous good (e.g., explosives, ammonia, resin kits, infectious substances, equipment with dangerous goods, etc.)
Remember, if there is no exemption in Schedule 2 (special provisions) or in Part 1 (special cases), then a dangerous good is considered fully regulated and the shipment must comply with all the applicable requirements in the TDG Regulations.
Also remember, that exempted does not mean it’s not regulated. The shipment of the dangerous goods must still meet any remaining or additional requirements as listed.
Let’s review the 150 kg gross mass exemption as an example. It is listed as a special case in Section 1.15 in the TDG Regulations.
Section 1.15 (d) allows an exemption to be used when we transport small amounts of dangerous goods that are generally available to the public, such as a gasoline jerrycan, BBQ propane, pool chemicals, nail polish, and paint. When all conditions for this exemption are met, shippers are fully exempt from the TDG Regulations.
NOTE: See Section 1.15 in the TDG Regulations for all of the conditions that must be followed.
When using this special case exemption, it is important to remember that:
- The dangerous goods must be in a quantity and concentration available to the general public at a retail outlet and be packaged in a means of containment that weighs 30 kg or less (except for gases – see below).
- The dangerous goods must be transported by a user or purchaser of the dangerous goods or by a retailer (e.g., hardware store, automotive industry store, pool supply store, or farm co-op) to or from a user or purchaser of the dangerous goods. This part of the exemption means carriers, who are not the retailer, cannot use this exemption. However, this exemption can be used by a purchaser who buys gasoline in a jerrycan and transports it to a project site for use in chain saws or other equipment.
- The total gross mass of all dangerous goods (e.g., oxygen gas cylinder, propane, gasoline, etc.) must not be greater than 150 kg. “Gross mass" includes the weight of the means of containment (i.e. the container itself) and the contents.
- Flammable gases, such as propane or acetylene, are limited to a cylinder capacity of 46L. The means of containment (i.e., the cylinder) must comply with Part 5 of the TDG Regulations.
- The means of containment must be strong and secured to prevent accidental release of the dangerous good.
- This exemption must not be combined with:
- Exemptions in Sections 1.16 (500 kg exemption), 1.21 (agricultural exemption) or 1.22 (agricultural exemption), or
- A shipment of dangerous goods that requires a shipping document
- This exemption must not be used to transport:
- Forbidden dangerous goods
- Dangerous goods that require an ERAP (as required in column 7 of Schedule 1)
- Dangerous goods that require a control or emergency temperature
- Most Class 1 explosives.
- Class 2.1 Flammable Gases in cylinders that have a capacity of 46-litre or more
- Class 2.3 Toxic Gases
- Class 4, Packing Group I (Flammable Solids, Spontaneously Combustible, Dangerous When Wet)
- Class 5.2 Organic Peroxides unless they are limited quantities as per Section 1.17 and Column 6a of Schedule 1.
- Class 6.1 Toxic Substances, Packing Group I, liquids
- Class 6.2 Infectious Substances
- Class 7 (Radioactive) that requires licensing by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Fact sheet first published: 2021-03-11
- Fact sheet last revised: 2021-03-11