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Specimen Shipping Guidelines

Holiday Closure

Please view our holiday closure dates to plan accordingly.

When preparing and shipping infectious substances, it is critical that each specimen be packaged and shipped properly by a trained and certified shipper.

All specimens sent to National Jewish Health Advanced Diagnostic Laboratories must comply with all Department of Transportation (DOT) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) shipping regulations in order for the shipper to avoid health and financial liabilities, both criminal and civil. Contact your transportation provider to ensure all shipping regulations are being met.

National Jewish Health Advanced Diagnostic Laboratories does not supply packaging materials for specimens. The only exceptions are Beryllium and QuantiFERON Testing packaging materials.

The following information is provided as general educational information for Advanced Diagnostic Laboratories clients. It does not meet the certified training requirements of DOT and IATA regulations.

The most common classes shipped to Advanced Diagnostic Laboratories are Class 6.2 - Category A and Category B and Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods (which includes dry ice shipments).  


General Guidelines for All Specimens

View Specimen Submission Policy

  • The primary and secondary receptacles must be leak proof, and they must not exceed the maximum net quantity.

  • Absorbent material must be placed between the primary receptacle and the secondary packaging sufficient to absorb the entire contents of all primary containers within the secondary package.

  • The primary receptacle or the secondary packaging must be capable of withstanding, without leakage, an internal pressure differential of not less than 95kPa.

  • If multiple fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary packaging, they must be individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact between them.

  • An itemized list of contents must be enclosed between the secondary packaging and the outer packaging.


Needles, Sharps or Medical Waste

Do not send any needles, sharps or breakable objects. Frozen specimens should not be submitted in glass tubes.  Medical waste must not be shipped as a diagnostic specimen. Properly discard used needles or other sharps prior to transport. When packaging for transport, ensure that there is no leakage from or visible contamination outside the specimen container.


Category A – Infectious Substances

Category A is defined as an infectious substance that is transported in a form that when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease to humans or animals. Specimens that fall under Category A must be sent in a certified container. A box containing a Category A substance must have Division 6.2 hazard label and Division 6.2 Proper Shipping Name and IATA label UN2814 - Infectious Substance, Affecting Humans affixed to it, as well as a Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods. In addition, the shipper, consignee, the person responsible and a 24-hour phone number are required. 


Category B – Biological Substances

Specimens that fall under Category B include most blood, tissue, and urine samples containing common microbiology organisms (human and animal) that are considered diagnostic or investigational specimens. Category B specimens require a diamond-shaped UN3373 label and the words Biological Substance, Category B on the outside of the mailer containing the specimens. Certified containers and a Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods are not required.


Dry Ice – Class 9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Shipments that contain dry ice must be shipped in a package that allows ventilation to prevent a build-up of pressure. Dry ice must never be placed in a sealed container. Required documentation includes a Class 9 Miscellaneous Hazard label, Class 9 Proper Shipping Name, IATA label UN1845 and quantity.

Frozen specimens shipped on the day preceding a holiday must have adequate dry ice to ensure the specimen stays frozen until specimen is delivered the day following the holiday. If possible, it is recommended to hold these specimens until regular shipping resumes.

For additional information, please contact Client Services at 800.550.6227.


Exempt Patient Specimens

Exempt Patient Specimen Shipments are acceptable if professional judgment based on the patient’s history has been used to determine that there is a minimal likelihood that the specimen contains a pathogen. These shipments require an Exempt Patient label on the package.