Revised on
01/12/17 11:15am

Guidance for Shipping Biological Materials

Contact information

Viable biological materials and other hazardous materials transported or shipped to off-campus locations may be regulated or require special packaging and permitting. The following activities may have special packaging or permit requirements:

  • Transport or shipment of materials across international borders (import/export)
  • Transport or shipment of materials across any U.S. state borders
  • Transport or shipment of materials within the state of California
  • Shipment of materials via commercial carrier (i.e. FedEx)
  • Transport of materials in passenger vehicles

The following materials may be restricted for shipping and transport. Please follow links below and contact appropriate authorities or UC Davis staff for more information.

Infectious substances are substances which are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens. Pathogens are defined as micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, viroids, rickettsiae, parasites, fungi) and other agents such as prions, which can cause disease in humans, animals or plants.

Biological products are those products derived from living organisms which are manufactured and distributed in accordance with the requirements of appropriate national authorities, which may have special licensing requirements, and are used either for prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of disease in humans or animals, or for development, experimental or investigational purposes related thereto. They include, but are not limited to, finished or unfinished products such as vaccines.

Cultures are the result of a process by which pathogens are intentionally propagated. This definition does not include patient specimens as defined below.

Patient specimens from humans or animals, include, but are not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluid swabs, and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment and prevention.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species.

Environmental samples are water, soil or plant samples transported or shipped for the purpose of research or diagnostics.

International Importation or Exportation of Biological Materials

Animal and plant materials or agents infectious to animals or plants — contact USDA-APHIS.

Biological agents, vector organisms and toxins which could cause disease or harm to human health — contact Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Domestic shipment or transport of materials which may present a hazard to human health (e.g. infectious materials, human source materials, clinical samples):

Contact Materiel Management regarding Dangerous Good shipping requirements.

Contact U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding requirements for human infectious substances.

Domestic shipment or transport of environmental samples or materials which may present a hazard to plants or animals:

Contact USDA-APHIS regarding permit requirements and packaging instructions.

Contact UC Davis Materiel Management regarding Dangerous Good shipping requirements if materials are genetically modified, infectious to animals or shipped with other hazardous substances (i.e. dry ice).

Shipment or transport of other hazardous substances in conjunction with biological materials (e.g. dry ice, chemical fixatives, toxic substances):

Contact UC Davis Materiel Management for guidance and assistance in shipment of any hazardous materials.

Further  information on the UC Davis Materiel management ship-out program for hazardous materials (e.g. dry ice).