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Who should provide IMO Declaration..??

I received below interesting question from a supplier based in USA who trades in hazardous goods..

I am a supplier for a product considered dangerous goods – I sell this product in the U.S. to a U. S. buyer along with MSDS.

Buyer in-turn exports it to someone overseas and they hire a third party freight forwarder to export this product. Who will be responsible for supplying the IMO declaration for exportation?

The argument is that the supplier (me) is not exporting the cargo – I delivered it on pallets, properly packed along with MSDS to be shipped to the buyers location.

image for reader question

The buyer hires a freight forwarder to export this cargo and freight forwarder is demanding I am responsible for IMO declaration since I supplied the product.

I’m saying – I am not stuffing the export container, and have no idea the condition of the product once its packed for export.

Who should bell this cat..?? Any hazardous goods experts can assist with this one..??


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. As you said that you are not stuffing,but as you are the exporter of hazardous goods you should aware of stuffing .
    what kind of safety should be kept in segregation is your responsibilities for your product

  2. Has your position changed on this topic since 2015? Are you aware of any legal opinions, formal or informal, supporting your views? They sound very logical but I need more supporting information. Thanks very much.

  3. Not as DG expert but in my view 2nd party who bought the goods in US from actual manufacturer should provide DGD or IMO Dec to shipping line or to the freight forwarder, to the best of my knowledge as per IMDG it’s exporter responsibility to provide proper DGD. Yes MSDS will be provided by the actual manufacturer.

    BUT there is a hitch according to me maybe I’m wrong and that is….. 2nd buyer is properly aware about the goods composition as he has not produced that comodity while DGD requires critical information i.e. inner and outer packing, incase of spill or emergency, hazmat falls in a category of limited qty etc then? So 2nd buyer who actually is exporting to a foreign country must get HAZMAT expert on board and incase he dont have anyone then he should lend the services of some HAZMAT company who also know packing etc.

    Harish your blog rock!!!

  4. It is responsibility of the final seller ( who was a buyer originally) and NOT the first seller. Every liner has a format which has to be filled in based on the MSDS provided by the first seller.

  5. Hi,
    Some freight forwarder (like Universal Shipping, Inc in Pomona, CA) is licensed in hazmat goods handling and provides the service in providing IMO. Supplier provides the MSDS and IMO is generated based on the MSDS.

  6. Don’t get confused by the original manufacturer, seller, shipper / consignor, freight forwarder and consignee.

    The MSDS is the responsibility or the Manufacturer who should provide the tested results in the correct format. The seller ‘should’ pass these details to the shipper / consignor. Note that these goods may require correct handling and documention if certian limits are exceeded per load, some road/rail/air and sea requirements are common, some are not applicable, or have different criteria.

    Through the chain of handlers comes the responsibilty and it may well be that the freight forwarder packs the goods to meet the regulations, they would need to be approved and trained in the field, it may be that the consignee has already packed the goods to comply, therefore only a visual check needs be made to ensure integrity of the packages and compliance with the method of shipping.

    If the goods are received incorrectly packed, I would follow the chain back, if I found that there was non-compliance by the shipper/consignor then the buck stops there, if however the seller had requested that packing met export requirements, then the buck goes back to the seller through the shipper/consignor, mainly as the cost may have been quoted including hazardous packing.

    The freight forwarder has a responsibility to ensure the stuffed container meets the proper regulations too, which may also be to ensure proper seperation of mixed hazards in an LCL container, and they have to ensure compliance with documents and labelling.

    The fact is that with any hazardous products everyone in the chain should be aware of the risks and responsibilities, otherwise they have no business shipping known hazardous materials without experts dealing with it through the chain of transportation.

  7. The exporter / forwarder the party who will deal directly with the shipping Line is responsible to provide the IMO declaration to the shipping line according to the MSDS which received from the manufacturer.

  8. Party “A” Manufacture dangerous good and prepare MSDS
    Party “B” purchases and supply this dangerous good along with MSDS to Party “C”
    Party “C” exports this good through a freight forwarder by ocean.
    In this case Party “C” becomes SHIPPER

    IMDG Code section 2.0.0 says “The classification shall be made by the shipper/consignor or by the appropriate competent authority where specified in this Code.”

    IMDG Code section The certification on the dangerous goods transport document shall be signed and dated by the consignor (shipper) (not by the manufacturer or the party from whom consignor procured the goods).

    49 CFR Subpart C places the responsibility of preparation and furnishing of dangerous goods declaration or shipping papers on the shoulders of the shipper.

    As for MSDS, IMDG Code does not ask for MSDS except as an option for emergency response information under section, MSDS is to be issued by the manufacturer of the goods.


    • What about situations where the buyer is not within the 48 contiguous US states and is buying a hazardous/dangerous good for transport from the US to someplace off shore IPuerto Rico, Panama, Guam, etc.) The buyer is providing their own transportation for pickup to take to a port for ocean transport and the seller is not charging for product only. Who is responsible for the IMO?

  9. Hi Hariesh,
    The responsibility of the supplier ceases once he has sold the goods to the buyer in is the buyer who has now engaged a freight forwarder to export the goods so as per my understanding the buyer will be responsible for the IMO declaration.

  10. You sell it as ex-works and once you provide the item labeled and packed along with the required documents (invoice, packing list, MSDS, CoO) your job is done. You are not the one exporting. It should be your customer’s custom broker’s job not yours.

    • We purchased DG cargo recently from X country on FOB terms as we have our representative office which will be exporting to us in India ( so they will be shipper ). The producer was liable for the DG cargo inspection at their warehouse which was applied by producer on the name of shipper ( Our rep office ), Packing was done in UN approved boxes with required symbols, UN number etc. The obligation of the producer is over once the cargo is at port and customs is cleared. Now, The shipper ( Our rep office ) now have switched the documents including reprinted the MSDS, COA ( except the DG inspection letter ) and submitted to the shipping line.

      *In this shipment, producer who applied for the IMO declaration on behalf of the shipper and the certificate was issued on shipper’s name.

  11. I’m not an expert by a long shot, however I do follow the blog and based on passed publications , I think the shipper is responsible for providing IMO declaration (to be clear this does not refer to the manufacture unless she is the respective shipper).

    Intuitively I think the MSDS can serve as a reference for all future handling of the goods after they are no longer the ‘property’ of the manufacture, thus can be used for IMO declaration in all subsequent shipments.

  12. Here the question is who should provide MSDS or who should submit IMO declaration.. If it is IMO declaration, then supplier has no role to play. It is shipper/FF responsible to submit IMO declaration. Always this declaration has to be made by exporters who are fully involved in the packing activities.

  13. Though I am not a dangerous goods expert, purely from a contractual point of view, unless the buyer had specified in the contract that they intend to export the item and providing detailed instructions for export packing and documentation support required by buyer, the seller cannot be held responsible for any subsequent acts of the buyer.

  14. You may provide the appropriate MSDS to your buyers as well as they can able to declara the export documentation by themselves accordingly.

  15. As far as I see it, IMO declaration is the one an exporter has to provide as a supplier has no knowledge about how the cargo is packed and shipped out.

    • it is not logic to buy good without its catalog , so the MSDS is catalog for hazard Cargo also we have obtain a clear information from any one whatever manufacturer or freight forwarder or shipper , not hidden any information or try to change MSDS , maybe it will be led to disaster also the hazard cargo needs expert persons in this field

    • In my opinion, the qualified party ( Manufacturer or Shipper) who packs the goods is responsible for the IMO preparation.
      This beside the provision of MSDS and other related documents to the Freight forwarder who undertake the shipping to overseas destination. It is similar to the Shipper Declaration of Dangerous Goods by air freight which must be prepared and signed by the Manufacturer or the licensed packer of the product. The packer is the only party who must pack the dangerous goods in adequate packing, exact quantity or limitations with proper markings.


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