Classification for transport

Explosives are dangerous goods.

All explosives must have been assigned a classification by the Competent Authority of a Contracting Party to the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) before they are consigned for carriage by road in Great Britain.

Chapter 2.2 of ADR describes the requirements for the classification of explosives, as interpreted by the 2011 amendments introduced at Regulation 3 of the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG).

This section describes the role of HSE as the Competent Authority for Great Britain, and explains the responsibilities of any person, eg importer or manufacturer, wanting to transport explosives in Great Britain, and the additional duties under the European Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (the CLP Regulation or CLP) and the European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals Regulation (REACH).

Who are the Contracting Parties to ADR?

The Contracting Parties are published on page 'vi' in the Foreword section of ADR.

What is classification?

'Classification' is a technical process that identifies and considers the hazards posed by explosive substances and articles as packaged for transport.

The Competent Authority of a Contracting Party to ADR must assign the classification of explosive materials before they can be transported by road within Great Britain. The process involves assessing an explosive to determine whether or not there is a danger of fire/explosion that would jeopardise safe transport in terms of:

The final stage of the process is to assign the explosive to – or exclude from – Class 1 of the UN classification scheme for the transportation of dangerous goods by assessing its behaviour in terms of:

An explosive assigned to Class 1 is given an appropriate UN Serial Number, hazard division and compatibility group, depending on its composition, type, and hazard.

A Competent Authority is a body designated or recognised to carry out duties under transport of dangerous goods regulations. In Great Britain:

Once the Competent Authority has agreed the classification, it issues a Competent Authority Document (CAD).

For further detail see the Industry Guide and Code of Practice on the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (as amended) (CDG).

What is HSE's role in classification?

As Competent Authority, HSE:

How are explosives classified?

Explosives may be assigned a classification by one of the following methods:

What does the importer / manufacturer have to do?

The importer / manufacturer is responsible for either:


Explosive substances and articles must also be classified under CLP.

CLP requires manufacturers and suppliers to provide their customers with information about the hazards associated with their products and to package them safely.

REACH requires safety data sheets (SDSs) to be provided. REACH is a European system for regulating chemicals imported into the EU in quantities greater than 1 tonne.

The detailed CLP and REACH requirements are separate to the explosives classification process.


Updated 2022-07-12