Looking for bespoke / custom products?
Call us to discuss: 0800 3761 693

UN labels are used in the shipping of dangerous goods. They play an important role in ensuring recipients of these items safely receive them, as well as providing specific warnings for the courier.

These are identified through UN numbers which form a code. If you’re involved in the handling of potentially hazardous goods, then you need to get up to scratch with this UN classification system.

Find out about the UN code and how it applies to shipping below.

The UN Code, Explained

A packaged dangerous good must communicate as much information as possible easily. The UN code allows for this to happen. It is a set of coded numbers ranging from UN0004 to UN3548, assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

These numbers are regularly published in a document known as The Orange Book, which is officially titled as Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

The code is made up of two parts. The first part, ‘UN’, is to show the dangerous goods falls within international law. The number is to make sure recipients know what the goods are across language and cultural barriers, as well as to help imports and customs.

So, as examples, a trained eye could identify UN0004 as ammonium picrate, UN0010 for military ammunition and UN0505 for distress signals.

By referring to the code set out in The Orange Book and cross-referencing this with the label number, everybody in the shipping pipeline can identify that a dangerous good is certified for transport. If you’re ever lost on how to find a UN number, then consult that document.

There are other elements of a UN label, however, which are required for them to function properly.

How Do UN Labels Work?

A UN label will use hazard symbols and colours to complement its UN number. This is best explained by example.

So, let’s say a package is transporting a flammable ethanol solution. The packaging will have a label with the relevant UN number UN1170. Next to this will be a red diamond label of the flammable logo with the phrase “flammable liquid”.

This combines the UN classification system with a label that communicates what type of hazard the package carries. 

We have discussed how to use these hazard labels for dangerous goods in our in-depth blog ‘What Are Dangerous Goods and How to Properly Label Them’.

Get Your UN Labels Today

If you need to transport dangerous goods, then you likely need UN labels. This isn’t a “nice to have”, it’s a legal requirement.

Discover our range of UN labels here.