Understanding dangerous goods

Dangerous goods are items or substances that are a risk to health, safety, property or the environment when you transport them by air.  

Some goods are too dangerous to transport on any aircraft. Others need approval from the aviation authority of the countries involved. 

Some dangerous goods are restricted to cargo-only aircraft.

You might ship these goods regularly (for example, as part of a business) or only occasionally.  

If you do send goods by air freight, it’s your responsibility to: 

  • find out whether you have a dangerous good 
  • make sure it can be transported by air 
  • make sure it’s prepared for transport correctly. 

Penalties can apply for incorrectly packaging, declaring and shipping dangerous goods, including fines and imprisonment. 

If you’re a passenger on a flight, you must know what you can bring on board in your checked or carry-on luggage. Our Can I pack that? app will help you determine what you can and can't pack.

Examples of dangerous goods 

Obvious dangerous goods include:  

  • acids
  • chemicals and poisons 
  • compressed gases
  • explosives 
  • flammable liquids 
  • radioactive materials.

Everyday items can also be dangerous goods, including: 

  • aerosols 
  • battery powered items 
  • bleaches and other cleaning products
  • camping stoves with liquid fuel or compressed gas 
  • car and machinery parts
  • hand sanitiser 
  • items that hold petrol
  • fireworks and sparklers
  • matches and cigarette lighters 
  • pesticides 
  • perfumes 
  • spare batteries 
  • toiletries.

These are only a few examples of the items that we consider dangerous goods. There are many others and you must be able to identify them. 

Hand sanitiser

Hand sanitiser is a dangerous good because of its high alcohol content. You can’t send hand sanitiser by post. You must send it using a freight forwarding company and declare it as a dangerous good. But you can take it onboard as a toiletry item as a passenger. 

Battery powered items

Battery powered items that use lithium ion batteries include:

  • drones
  • mobility aids
  • power tools
  • toys.

If you want to bring these items with you, you will need approval from your airline before flying. 

Read more about batteries and portable power packs.

Items that hold petrol

Items that hold petrol include:

  • brush cutters
  • chainsaws
  • lawn mowers
  • model aircraft.

You can take them as checked-in baggage, if you have flushed the petrol and have your airline's approval.

Regulation of dangerous goods 

We follow these rules and regulations for handling and transporting dangerous goods in Australia: 

Many airline operators also use the International Air Transport Association’s Dangerous Goods Regulations. 

CASA’s role in dangerous goods is to: 

  • implement, regulate and enforce Australia's international treaty obligations for carrying dangerous goods by air 
  • develop standards 
  • control aircraft operators’ entry to the industry 
  • monitor industry compliance 
  • educate industry and the public about dangerous goods issues. 

Reporting a dangerous goods accident, incident or occurrence

Australian air operators must report a dangerous goods incident, accident or occurrence within 2 working days through the myCASA portal. Find out how to create an account in myCASA.

If you are not an Australian air operator and want to report an incident, please use our dangerous goods enquiries form.

Foreign air operators must also use our dangerous goods enquiries form to report incidents on either an Australian or foreign registered aircraft. This includes dangerous goods incidents, accidents and occurrences.

Note: Air accidents involving dangerous goods must also be reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

Last updated:
18 Nov 2022
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//operations-safety-and-travel/safety-advice/dangerous-goods-and-air-freight/understanding-dangerous-goods
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