What are the major reasons for misdeclared or undeclared dangerous goods?

News - Shipping and Freight ResourceIn the past few years, we have seen a large number of maritime disasters such as catastrophic fires onboard ships mostly due to misdeclared and undeclared dangerous goods.

Some of the vessels which had major fires in the year 2019 are Yantian Express, APL Vancouver, E.R. Kobe, Grande America, KMTC Hong Kong, APL Le Havre.

Most of the cases involving leakage, fires, cargo damage is linked to undeclared, misdeclared or poorly packed containers.

CINS, Cargo Incident Notification System, defines misdeclared and undeclared dangerous goods as

Misdeclared: Containers presented for shipment where an item or items of Dangerous Goods are not declared correctly, including but not limited to where offered on a fraudulent basis.


Undeclared: Cargo presented for shipment as non‐dangerous goods which should have been declared as Dangerous Goods and/or not all Dangerous Goods items in the containers are declared, including but not limited to where offered as non‐dangerous goods on a fraudulent basis.

To clarify,

Misdeclared dangerous goods means any dangerous goods not declared correctly as per the requirement of IMDG Code. This may include incorrect or misleading description of dangerous goods in dangerous goods declaration, misleading Marking, Labeling and placarding.

Undeclared dangerous goods means any goods which are listed in the IMDG Code by name or meeting any of the classification criteria of the IMDG Code but not declared by the shipper as dangerous goods.

dangerous goods - shipping and freight resource

Some shippers do not declare or wrongly declare dangerous goods either due to ignorance or wilfully to avoid certain charges and this jeopardizes lives at sea.

Some of the Shipping lines have taken their own initiative to detect and eliminate this threat by developing software looking for “key words” which may lead to detecting suspicious bookings/cargo details. Example Cargo Patrol of Hapag Lloyd.

Shipping Lines also announced a heavy penalty if they detect any misdeclared dangerous goods. Maersk joined hands with National Cargo Bureau (NCB) for inspection of containers.

We would like your views on what are the major factors or reasons for non-declaration or misdeclaration and what is the solution to stop this.

Your views are vital to enhancing safety of life at sea and in transport chain, so please take part in this short survey..

Shashi Kallada is an ex Seafarer and Hazardous Goods Specialist, Trainer and is the runs the IMDG Code Compliance Centre..

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