Transport of infectious and potentially infectious materials

Transport of infectious and potentially infectious materials

Transport of infectious and potentially infectious materials is subject to strict national and international regulations. These regulations describe the proper use of packaging materials, as well as other shipping requirements. 


Please contact Safety Officer (; ext. 8905) before starting any procedure related to shipping any laboratory material to other Labs in Saudi Arabia or in other Countries. 

A formal letter of mutual agreement from involved Institutions should be provided to the safety officer. 

Laboratory personnel must ship infectious substances according to applicable transport regulations. Compliance with the rules will:

  • Reduce the likelihood that packages will be damaged and leak, and thereby 
  • Reduce the exposures resulting in possible infections 
  • Improve the efficiency of package delivery. 

The basic triple packaging system:

The triple packaging system, the choice for the transport of infectious and potentially infectious substances, is exemplified in the Figure. This packaging system consists of three layers: the primary receptacle, the secondary packaging and the outer packaging. 

The primary receptacle containing the specimen must be watertight, leak-proof and appropriately labelled as to content. The primary receptacle is wrapped in enough absorbent material to absorb all fluid in case of breakage or leakage. 

A second watertight, leak-proof packaging is used to enclose and protect the primary receptacle(s). Several wrapped primary receptacles may be placed in a single secondary packaging. Volume and/or weight limits for packaged infectious substances are included in certain regulatory texts. 

The third layer protects the secondary packaging from physical damage while in transit. 

Specimen data forms, letters and other types of information that identify or describe the specimen and identify the shipper and receiver, and any other documentation required, must also be provided according to latest regulations. 

The United Nations Model Regulations prescribe the use of two different triple packaging systems. The basic triple packaging system applies for the transport of a variety of infectious substances; however, high-risk organisms must be shipped according to more stringent requirements. For further details about the use of the different packaging according to the materials to be transported, it is advisable to consult national and/or international modal regulations for applicable regulatory texts.