Are hand sanitisers considered dangerous goods?

Hand sanitiser has been in higher than usual demand due to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) and so has the need to transport it. As recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to suppress the spread of the virus, everyone needs to wash their hands with soap regularly, and if possible, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Due to this advice, a lot of hand sanitisers are being transported, both within Australia and internationally. If transporting such products, it’s important to be aware of the compliance requirements, especially when handled in large quantities.  

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers contain ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, making them highly flammable, and therefore dangerous goods. Known for being in alcoholic drinks, when the colourless compound is used for sanitation, it will contain a higher ethanol grade (more than 60%) to eliminate bacteria. A safety data sheet (SDS) can be obtained from the manufacturer which contains details about the ingredients of the sanitiser and how the product can be classified for dangerous goods transport.  

Personal Transport 

If the hand sanitiser is being transported in a personal vehicle then there are no regulations that apply. If carried as a personal item in your travel luggage, then it’s subject to quantity restrictions. All alcohol-based hand sanitisers can only be carried in cabin luggage, in no more than 500ml bottles and not exceed two litres in total. For more specific information, you can read the IATA Provisions for Dangerous Goods Carried by Passengers by clicking here, or contacting the airline directly.   

Commercial cargo  

When transporting hand-sanitiser as cargo, larger quantities may be involved and there is a greater risk of ignition. All commercial cargo (by air, road or sea) involving dangerous goods is regulated. Hand sanitisers must be declared as dangerous goods and packaged, labeled and documentation supplied to the carrier in accordance with appropriate regulations depending on the type of transport. You can find out more by checking out AMSA’s dangerous goods standards if transporting by sea, or IATA’S dangerous goods regulations if transporting via air freight. The ADG Code in Australia covers transport by road and rail. 


There are some exemptions from some of the obligation of dangerous goods regulations for small quantities of dangerous goods. Hand sanitisers in small containers, as ‘Limited Quantity’, first aid kits and consumer commodities have some exemptions. If you’re unsure how to transport hand sanitisers in compliance with regulations, please contact us.   

It’s important that you follow the appropriate regulations when transporting dangerous goods. If you’d like more information, please feel free to contact us here.  

Disclaimer: the information in this article is not intended to be used as a complete guide, it won’t suit every hand sanitiser situation or type of transport as it contains recommendations of a general nature. Compliance requirements and safety standards can only be met by applying professional advice specific to each transportation situation. If you’d like more information or require advice for your dangerous goods management system, please contact us here.  

Marair Dangerous Goods Specialists


12 Allied Drive
Tullamarine Victoria 3043 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8318 4500


55 Tacoma Circuit
Canning Vale WA 6155 Australia
Phone: +61 8 6350 0200


Unit 7 14 Childs Road
Chipping Norton NSW 2170 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9727 3284

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