Following recent issues involving transport dewars being refused as hand or hold luggage at Lyon and Grenoble airports, we would like to remind Users who intend to travel to the ESRF with their sample dewars on the plane that the dewars cannot be taken on-board the plane as hand luggage, and they will only be accepted in the hold as long as the dewars and the cases in which they are contained conform to IATA regulations.  Transport cases that do not conform to IATA regulations include mushroom shipping containers. The ESRF will no longer provide airport forms for dewars transported in containers that do not conform to these regulations.

To avoid possible problems with dewars being refused, it is strongly recommended that samples should be shipped by recognised courier companies such as FEDEX, UPS, DHL, World Courier, TNT.

However, if you have to carry samples while travelling,  here are some guidelines organised by means of transport.  There is a separate section for samples classed as dangerous goods.



Accompanying letters "Airport Forms" can be prepared by the ESRF for Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva airports. These forms were set up in collaboration with the airport authorities.  They are used when travelling back to your home institute with samples).  These forms can only be used for dry samples; liquid samples cannot be carried.

There is a check box for the Airport Form request on the A-form. 

AirportForm.jpg (AirportForm.jpg) 

Once this box has been checked, an automatically-generated message is sent to the Biosafety Officer who will contact you for extra details.  Failing to answer this message will cancel your Airport Form request.  Airport Forms prepared in advance by the Safety Group are to be collected from the Experimental Hall Operator office in the Experimental Hall (Ext. 25-25 in front of ID31) after signing various papers.

A few rules are applied for dry shippers transportation:

  • Make sure that you ONLY transport your samples in your dewars
  • Make sure that all liquid nitrogen (forbidden compound on roads, trains and planes) has been poured off before shipping your dry shippers
  • Make sure that your samples, dewars and the cases in which they are contained comply with the IATA regulations.



For transportation of your samples using the Eurostar, the ESRF does not provide a form for such travel.  However, you are invited to contact the French Customs office in Paris, whose details are below, in order to obtain clearance (a specific letter) for travelling with your samples.

Users must send a letter to the following address:

Pôle Action Economique

Direction Régionale des Douanes de Paris

16, rue Yves Toudic

75010 PARIS


email address :

The following information should be provided in this letter:

  • Type of samples concerned
  • The reason for their transport
  • The name(s) of the person(s) responsible for the samples during their transport
  • The date and time of the train on which the samples will be carried.

On receipt of this letter a special dispensation will be sent to the Users concerned, and a copy to the Safety Control Brigade, so that their containers will not be opened on the Eurostar site.  However, containers will still need to pass the X-ray control.

Scientists may also contact the Eurostar Security Standards Management Security Pass office at St Pancras International, Pancras Road, London, NW1 2QP.



Transportation of samples by road must comply with the ADR regulations, specifying several classes of dangers depending on sample types.  Original text is available via this link 


Transporting dangerous goods

For dangerous goods or compounds, there is a specific regulation that applies, one for each type of transport.


Transport Mode

Applicable Texts


Decree 1 July 2001 modified 9 May 2008 relating to the transport of dangerous goods by road (ADR regulations).


Regulation concerning dangerous materials using the international rail transport of dangerous goods (RID regulations).


Rules of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for technical instructions.


European agreement relating to the international transport of dangerous materials and goods by internal navigation traffic means (ADNR regulations).


International Maritime Dangerous Goods code (Code IMDG).


Transported dangerous goods are referenced according to 9 classes, depending on their potential risk:

Class 1

Explosive materials and objects

Class 2

Compressed gases, liquefied or dissolved under pressure

Class 3

Flammable liquids

Class 4

4.1 : Flammable solids,
4.2 : Substances liable to spontaneous combustion,
4.3 :
Substances that on contact with water emit flammable gases

Class 5

5.1 : Oxidising substances,
5.2 : Organic Peroxides.

Class 6

6.1 : Toxic substances,
6.2 : Infectious substances.

Class 7

Radioactive materials

Class 8

Corrosive materials

Class 9

Miscellaneous Products, Substances or Organisms


Goods are identified depending on their hazard class AND their unique UN identification number which is specific for each item.  It is a four-digit number (e.g. 1789 = chlorhydric acid) whatever the regulation is. This UN number should be applied on each transport vehicle.