ADR General FAQs

What is ADR?

ADR is the acronym given to the Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road, which was made at Geneva in 1957 by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and amended April 1985.

The key article in the agreement is the second, which says that apart from some excessively dangerous goods, other dangerous goods may be carried internationally in road vehicles subject to compliance with:

  • the conditions laid down in Annex A for the goods in question, in particular as regards their packaging and labelling; and
  • the conditions laid down in Annex B, in particular as regards the construction, equipment and operation of the vehicle carrying the goods in question.

Annexes A and B have been regularly amended and updated since the entry into force of ADR. These annexes were entirely revised and restructured between 1992 and 2000, and a first version of the restructured annexes entered into force on 1 July 2001.

Ireland is a contracting party to ADR.

The annexes to the ADR are amended every two years, and are applicable from 1 January of each new biennium.

What provisions are detailed in the ADR Annexes?

Annex A details the general provisions and provisions concerning dangerous articles and substances which are divided into the following parts:

  • Part 1 – General Provisions
  • Part 2 – Classification
  • Part 3 – Dangerous goods list, special provisions and exemptions related to limited and excepted quanitities
  • Part 4 – Packing and tank provisions
  • Part 5 – Consignment procedures
  • Part 6 – Requirements for the construction and testing of packagings, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), large packagings and tanks
  • Part 7 – Provisions concerning the conditions of carriage, loading, unloading and handling

Annex B details the provisions concerning transport equipment and transport operations which are divided into two parts as follows:

  • Part 8 – Requirements for vehicle crews, equipment, operation and documentation
  • Part 9 – Requirements concerning the construction and approval of vehicles

What is classified as “Carriage of Dangerous Goods”?

Under the  European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 349 of 2011), as amended“the carriage of dangerous goods by road” is defined as any road transport operation performed by a vehicle wholly or partly on public roads, including the activity of loading and unloading, packing and filling, covered by the ADR, but does not include transport wholly performed within the perimeter of an enclosed area not open to the public.

What goods are classified as 'dangerous' for carriage by road?

The classes of dangerous goods according to ADR are the following:

Class NumberSubstance / Article Description
Class 1Explosive substances and articles
Class 2Gases
Class 3Flammable liquids
Class 4.1Flammable solids, self-reactive substances, polymerizing substances and solid desensitised explosives
Class 4.2Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
Class 4.3Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
Class 5.1Oxidising substances
Class 5.2Organic peroxides
Class 6.1Toxic substances
Class 6.2Infectious substances
Class 7Radioactive material
Class 8Corrosive substances
Class 9Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

Each entry in the different classes has been assigned a unique, 4-digit UN number, which may be either specific to an individual substance or collective to a product or substance type.

The UN numbers are assigned to different transport categories from 0 to 4 and this will influence the maximum amount of the goods that can be carried at any one time.

How do I determine the requirements for particular substances or articles?

Chapter 3.2 of the ADR contains a Dangerous Goods List. This is a table which contains a list of dangerous goods by name and description, their UN numbers, classification, transport categories and all the relevant codes for packaging, labelling, special provisions, carriage in bulk, carriage in tanks, etc.

ADR Chapter 3.1 and the introductory paragraphs of Section 3.2.1 provide explanatory notes regarding each of the columns of the dangerous goods list. The relevant section of the ADR that details the requirements for each of the codes is provided in the column header.

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How is the ADR enforced in Ireland?

In Ireland the ADR is enforced by the European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 349 of 2011), as amended.

These regulations are based on the provisions outlined in three directives:

The Regulations principally apply to the carriage of dangerous goods by road, in tanks, in bulk and in packages, in accordance with the provisions contained in the technical Annexes to the ‘Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road' (ADR).  They impose duties on the various participants associated with the carriage of the dangerous goods, including the consignor, carrier, driver, packer, loader, filler, unloader, tank container or portable tank operator, vehicle crew, consignee, safety adviser, inspection body or any other person with a duty under the relevant transport statutory provisions. They refer to the ADR which contains requirements for the vehicles, tanks, tank containers, receptacles and packages containing the dangerous goods during their carriage. They require that those involved in the carriage of the dangerous goods by road (including drivers and those responsible for the packing, loading, filling and unloading of dangerous goods) be adequately trained and, in the case of drivers, hold a certificate of such training.

The Regulations also contain provisions on an EC harmonised approach to the road checks aspect of enforcement (Directive (EU) 2022/1999).

In 2011 Directive 2010/35/EU on transportable pressure equipment was transposed in Irish law and was incorporated in the national regulations concerning the carriage of dangerous goods by road (see section on TPED). 

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Who are the competent authorities for ADR in Ireland?

The following are the ‘Competent Authorities’:

  • Road Safety Authority (RSA) for technical examination of vehicles and issuing of certificates of approval
  • National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) for testing of receptacles and tanks
  • Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) for accreditation of inspection bodies
  • Minister for Justice and Equality for all matters relating to the carriage by road of explosives of the ADR Class 1
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all matters relating to the carriage by road of radioactive materials of the ADR Class 7
  • National Roads Authority (NRA) or 'Transport Infrastructure Ireland' for matters relating to the classification of tunnels as required
  • Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for all other functions required to be performed by a competent authority under the Regulations

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General Questions

Can the transport document required by ADR be incorporated into another document or split between more than one document?

Yes. If all the relevant information as required by ADR,  is situated within a document(s) which  may double as an invoice or waste C1 form or another document, this is acceptable provided the ADR transport document information is clear and follows the requirements set out in ADR.

What guidance is there available for the safe loading of dangerous goods?

Guidance for the safe loading and unloading of dangerous goods, and methods of load restraint, is available in section 12.1 of our guide on the carriage of dangerous goods by road.

In the 'vehicles at work' section of our website there is sub-section on 'load securing', which provides links to various guidance documents and publications that are available, including recently updated UK government guidance.

Does the transport of asbestos material come under the ADR?

Yes, though there are some exemptions. A guide to the transport of Asbestos, which deals with classification, carriage in limited quantities, carriage of goods over or below the threshold quantities, packaging and labelling, vehicle equipment and marking, documentation, DGSA and relevant legislation is available from the HSA. See relevant guidance under Class 9 Dangerous Goods.

Are there specific requirements for transporting Ammonium Nitrate based fertilisers?

Yes, some Ammonium Nitrate based fertilisers are classified as “dangerous goods”. 

Classification of ammonium nitrate based fertilisers must be carried out in accordance wit the procedure as set out in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, Section 39.  You are advised to seek the advice of a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA) if you are unsure about the classification of your fertilizer. 

If ammonium nitrate based fertilizer is classified as UN 2067, Class 5.1, the driver will require a valid ADR training certificate and all relevant ADR requirements will apply.  Note that you may be able to avail of some exemptions, including the exemption related to quantities carried per transport unit (see ADR, note that UN 2067 is assigned to transport category 3).

Ammonium nitrate based fertilizer classified as UN 2071, Class 9, is not subject to ADR and may be carried without restriction.

Are there any exemptions for farmers who transport Ammonium Nitrate based fertilisers by road?

Agricultural or forestry tractors or indeed any mobile machinery can draw any quantity of UN 2067 as these are not ‘Vehicles’ or ‘Transport equipment’.

What provisions apply to the carriage of waste electrical goods?

Under ADR if the electrical goods, e.g. transformers or condensers etc, contain PCB’s – Polychlorinated Biphenyls (liquid or solid) or PHB’s Polyhalogenated Biphenyls (liquid or solid) with UN numbers 2315, 3151, 3152 or 3432 then all the requirements of ADR apply for any quantity transported and the driver would have to hold valid ADR Driver Training Certificate covering Class 9 as the goods would come under Transport Category 0.

It should also be noted that uncleaned empty containment vessels for such apparatus containing substances assigned to UN 2315, 3151, 3152 cannot be accepted for carriage.

However if the electrical goods do not contain dangerous substances then they are exempt from any of the requirements of ADR, the consignor has the obligation to classify the waste.

Note that special provision 636(b), for the carriage of lithium cells and batteries up to the intermediate processing facility, was amended to provide for lithium cells and batteries contained in equipment from private households.  A definition of what is meant by 'equipment from private households' is provided by means of a note in the special provision.  Lithium cells and batteries contained in such equipment carried for the purposes of depollution, dismantling, recycling or disposal are not subject to other provisions of ADR so long certain conditions are met which are listed in the special provision.

Do manufacturers who outsource their distribution of high consequence dangerous goods need to address security plan requirements?

Manufacturers who outsource their distribution must still comply with security plan provisions as they are consignors.

Is there guidance on security requirements?

The HSA has no specific guidance on security requirements other than what is stipulated in the ADR. However, there is a number of guidance documents available on the UK Dept. for Transport web site 

The UK Draft guidance on security of dangerous goods publication is a comprehensive guide and may be used when considering specific security plans. 

What are the requirements for fire extinguishers for transport units carrying dangerous goods?

Section 8.1.4 of the ADR specifies fire extinguisher requirements for transport units carrying dangerous goods.


Transport unit maximum permissible mass


Minimum number of fire extinguishers


Minimum total capacity per transport   unit


Extinguisher suitable for engine or   cab fire. At least one with a minimum capacity of:


Additional extinguisher(s)   requirement. At least one extinguisher shall have a minimum capacity of:

≤ 3.5 tonnes


4 kg

2 kg

2 kg

> 3.5 tonnes   ≤ 7.5 tonnes


8 kg

2 kg

6 kg

>7.5 tonnes


12 kg

2 kg

6 kg

The capacities are   for dry powder devices (or an equivalent capacity for any other suitable   extinguishing agent).

Note that transport units carrying dangerous goods in accordance with the 'small load exemption (ADR shall be equipped with one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum capacity of 2 kg dry powder (or an equivalent capacity for any other suitable extinguishing agent).

See section 5.2 of our guide on the carriage of dangerous goods by road for the provisions under the small load exemption.


Instructions in Writing (IiW)

What equipment must be carried on a vehicle carrying dangerous goods?

Equipment requirements for vehicles carrying dangerous goods can be found in ADR 5.4.3 'Instructions in writing according to ADR', and are summarised in Section 11 of our ADR Guide for Business.

Different language versions of such instructions in writing are available on the UNECE website.

In order to aid industry and answer some frequently asked questions, the following guidance has been drawn up for national operators. International operators should adopt a more restrictive interpretation.

Can the IiW be produced in black and white?

No. The hazard labels must remain in colour.

Can a logo or other company information be added to the IiW?

Yes, but only on a separate sheet or so that the form and contents are not altered .

How do I know what should be contained in spill kits?

Different goods and substances will have a variety of different emergency procedures in the case of spills and leaks. A spill kit is the equipment that must be contained on the vehicle for use in an emergency situation. There is no standard spill kit. Equipment will vary dependant on the goods being carried.  The carrier must ensure that all equipment necessary to complete the procedures of the IiW are provided on the vehicle.

What type of shovel is required?

Within reason, any shovel, spade or scoop designed to perform the task of lifting solids may be used. The reason this piece of equipment is specified is to enable the driver to prevent leaked substances reaching the aquatic environment via the placement of absorbent material, sand or earth and the safe collection of same. Note that if flammable substances are present, the shovel should not present a source of ignition; thus metal shovels must not be used.

Do I need a shovel if I only carry class 3 fuels and carry a commercial spill kit, consisting of absorbent mats, booms and plastic bags?

No. As an exception to the rule, vehicles carrying liquids which are equipped with commercial spill kits consisting of pads and booms, designed to manage liquid spills, may be exempted from carrying a shovel.

Is there one type of drain seal to be used?

No. While commercially available drain seals are acceptable, so too is the use of plastic bags and sand. Any method employed must be capable of preventing leaked material entering a drainage system.

Is there a particular type of protective glove that should be supplied?

No. There is no one standard glove. The carrier should carry out a risk assessment and provide gloves suitable for the substances being carried.

Will heavy duty plastic bags meet the requirement for a collecting container?

In most cases. Where there is a requirement to carry a collecting container made of plastics you may carry a plastic drum or bucket or a heavy duty plastic bag. Any suitable plastics container may be used that is capable of carrying and retaining unused or used absorbent material (sand, earth, absorbent pads or granules). If using a heavy duty/strong ply plastic bag, it is advised to contain the contaminated material in the bag by means of tape, rope, cable tie or other suitable means.

If it is the intention of an operator to remove contaminated absorbent or leaked dangerous goods in the event of a minor incident the operator must carry out a risk assessment and provide adequate instruction and training to the driver. This would cover the type of container to be used and how it is to be transported. 

Note: A collecting container is only required for solids and liquids belonging to Class 3, 4.1, 4.3, 8 or 9.

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