Last reviewed 28 June 2016

Desmond Waight, Consultant Editor, recently spent a couple of days providing pro bono assistance in the application of Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (SI 2009 No. 1345 — known in short as CDG2009) during police enforcement actions. In this feature article, he highlights an issue noted on two of the enforcements, and the confusion about the requirements that disclosed.


Unlike ordinary UN approved packages (eg steel or plastics drums), which have no periodic testing and marking requirements, the use of Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), the UN Model Regulations specifies periodic testing and marking requirements. These requirements are picked up and applied “as is” by the surface modes (RID, ADR, ADN and the IMDG Code). This article only refers to the ADR provisions.

Requirement for periodic inspection and testing

In ADR, the requirements can be found in an often missed section of Chapter 4.1, where the tendency is, having perhaps started looking at section 1 (4.1.1) with its general provisions, to then go straight to the Packing Instructions (4.4.4.). However, hidden after the pages dealing with chemical compatibility of plastics receptacles by assimilation of proposed filling substances to standard compatibility test substances, there is a short section (4.1.3) that provides additional general requirements applicable to the use of IBCs.

Here, requires that every metal, rigid plastics and composite IBC shall be inspected and tested, as relevant, and after initial manufacture inspection and testing, in accordance with (which deals with “routine” inspection and testing) or (which deals with inspection and testing after repair and before reuse) “thereafter at intervals not exceeding two and a half and five years, as appropriate”.


2.5 years

At not more than every 2.5 years:

  • the external condition must be inspected

  • the proper functioning of service equipment must be checked

  • the IBC shall be checked to ensure it complies in all respects to its design type specification.

5 years

At not more than every five years, the IBCs shall be checked for:

  • conformity to the design type, inclusive of the marking requirements

  • internal and external condition

  • the proper functioning of service equipment.


At intervals not exceeding 2.5 years, the IBC shall be leakage tested, with the normal bottom primary closure in place, by a test at least equally effective as that described in (air at = or < 0.2 bar gauge with IBC immersed under water (or if metal with seams and joints coated with a soap solution)) and be capable of meeting the required test level, if:

  • it is used for carriage of liquids, or

  • it is used for the carriage of solids and those solids are filled or discharged under pressure.

Though the actual wording of the applicable requirement ( is perhaps not as clear as it might be, see below.


Under the requirements of, which generally relate to additional marking requirements of a newly made IBC, the IBC shall be marked:

  • after the above periodic inspection with the date (month and year) of the inspection (which may replace the date marking of any earlier inspection)

  • after the above periodic testing with the date (month and year) of the inspection (which may replace the date marking of any earlier inspection).

Indeed, in the case of one non-compliance, it was the very clear IBC mark that drew the attention of the author, see picture.

It was only later when reviewing the photograph that it became apparent that no periodic testing had been performed on this metal IBC, used to carry liquid fuels to power portable generators. Also, the periodic inspections due in 2009 and 2012 had probably not been performed.

On subsequent checking by the police with the undertaking, it transpired that the lack of clarity of mentioned above had led the undertaking’s Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) to advise that the requirement for testing of an IBC used to carry liquid fuel was not applicable, since the fuel was not filled or discharged under pressure.

However, the company took immediate action to cease use of the IBCs while they rechecked the situation. They checked their DGSA’s interpretation with the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), which confirmed that these very strong metal IBCs did need periodic testing (and marking) every 2.5 years.

On another non-compliance issue, a photo taken of the marking on the IBCs concerned also showed probable non-compliance with the IBC periodic inspection and testing provision, see picture.

These IBCs had been manufactured in February 1999 and were marked with a Prüfdaten date of May 2015 — though whether this relates to the inspection date or the test date or both is not clear. However, due to other far more severe non-compliances (starting with describing the shipment as being of four different UN Numbers — with non-matching PSNs applied — when in fact the shipment was a number of IBCs containing the same mixture (which included four ingredients that if shipped alone would be dangerous goods)), the issue of the inspection and testing of these very substantial rigid metal IBCs was consequently not taken any further.


Details of the above inspections and tests shall additionally be recorded by the owner of the IBC and retained until at least the next inspection or test, and shall identify the party undertaking the inspection and/or testing (as this is not a required part of the marking).


While an IBC shall not be filled and offered for carriage unless the inspection is still valid, an IBC that was filled prior to the expiry of the inspection/test period may be offered and carried, but only provided that the carriage ends before three months after the inspection or test date was due.

Out of inspection/testing date, IBCs may also be carried if:

  • they have been emptied (but not cleaned — that are still subject to ADR (and hence probably Transport Category 4)) and are being carried to a place for the carrying out of the inspection/testing

  • approved by the competent authority (which means all applicable authorities in the case of an international road journey) for the purpose of return of the dangerous goods or the residues for proper disposal or recycling. However, this must be completed no later than six months after the due date of the inspection/testing.


Owning and using an IBC is more complicated than for drums, and DGSAs need to ensure that they can properly interpret and advise their undertakings on the periodic inspection and testing routines and record keeping requirements.


This article should NOT be used in place of reference to ADR and if applicable to the IMDG Code, or other applicable.

Photographs copyright of Desmond Waight and used in this article with his permission.