UTMB Biological Materials Shipping Guide

Shipping and Receiving Research Materials

UTMB is committed to supporting national and international efforts that encourage the sharing and dissemination of important research resources. UTMB is also cognizant of local, state, federal and international shipping regulations that may apply to certain outgoing and incoming shipments.

Individuals involved in the transportation and shipment of hazardous and biological materials must receive training on the applicable regulations and requirements before shipping such materials. Therefore, if one employee packages a hazardous material, and another employee fills out the shipping paper (e.g. eShipGlobal or airway bill), both employees require training. Department of Biosafety (DOB) and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) have been designated to coordinate hazardous materials, including some biological materials shipments and to assist UTMB personnel with compliance requirements of applicable regulations.

Type of Hazardous Materials

Chemicals (non-radiological)

Infectious Substances

Dry Ice

Radiological Materials

Type of Non-Hazardous Biological Materials

Exempt Human/Animal Specimens

Non-Regulated Biological Materials

  • Animal tissues and cells, biological material that doesn’t contain infectious substances, non-pathogenic microorganisms, proteins, etc.

Genetically Modified Organisms

  • Only when shipped domestically

International Shipments

UTMB employees, who wish to ship research materials, to a foreign destination should first contact UTMB's Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) to determine if (i) a Material Transfer Agreement is needed between UTMB and the receiving entity and (ii) an U.S. export control license is required prior to shipment. After the UTMB employee receives approval from OTT, they must submit a request (see the Section “Request for EHS or DOB to Ship Your Materials” on this webpage) for shipping to EHS or DOB, along with all necessary documentation, such as MTA, U.S. export control license, foreign recipient’s import permit if needed. An EHS or DOB Shipper will contact you to schedule the shipment after they receive your shipping request.

Shipment of Chemicals and Radioactive Materials

All research shipments of radioactive material must be performed by Radiation Safety. Contact EHS-Radiation Safety at (409) 772-2279 to schedule shipping of radioactive material.

All research shipments of chemicals must be evaluated by EHS-Radiation and Occupational Safety to determine if they are exempt or regulated as a DOT hazardous material shipment. Shipments that are determined to be a DOT hazardous material must be performed by a trained & certified EHS or UTMB shipper. Contact EHS-Occupational Safety at (409) 747-0515 to evaluate the chemical shipment.

Shipment of Biological Materials

For the purposes of shipping, biological materials may be classified as infectious substances, exempt human/animal patient specimens, biological products, or genetically modified organisms.

Non-Regulated Materials 

  • Material that does not contain infectious substances
  • Microorganisms which are non-pathogenic to humans and/or animals
  • Environmental sample that is not considered to pose a significant health risk
  • Dried blood spot/fecal occult blood test
  • Pathogens that have been neutralized/inactivated

Exempt Animal or Human Specimens

  •  Patient specimens for which there is minimal likelihood that pathogens are present

Infectious to Humans or Animals

  • Substances which are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens

Genetically Modified Organisms (and micro-organisms)

  • Organisms in which genetic material has been purposely altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur naturally .

Other Related Biological Materials Shipping Tools

Do I Need a Permit?

Biological materials may also require permits in addition to the IATA and DOT regulations for shipping and receiving. Biological materials permits are intended to ensure that these materials that may bear an infectious disease or environmental impact risk are not inadvertently released. Additionally, permits minimize the potential for clandestine or inappropriate use of such materials.

Materials Transfer Intake Form

A Guide to Biological Materials Permits

Biological Materials IATA Category Classification Flow Chart

UTMB Biological Materials Shipping Guide

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are required when any research materials are exchanged between UTMB and another entity. MTAs control the terms and conditions under which the recipient scientist and institution may use the exchanged materials for research. https://www.utmb.edu/techtransfer/TechnologyTransfer

Export Control and Export Licenses

An export license will be required to ship or transport certain research materials and equipment out of the United States of America. Contact UTMB Export Control for more information. https://www.utmb.edu/export


eShipGlobal is available as a UTMB resource to ship materials at a reduced cost. When eShipGlobal is used to prepare documentation for a shipment of research materials you must select the “Research Materials Shipping” option to comply with DOT/IATA regulations. For more information regarding eShipGlobal visit https://www.utmb.edu/supplychain/divisions/procurement/procurement-marketplace

Request to Ship Your Research Materials

To begin the process of shipping hazardous materials visit, https://utmb.us/6g5, complete and submit the “UTMB Hazardous Materials Shipping Request” form. Do not consider the form received until you have received confirmation from one of our staff. EHS or DOB will contact you to set up a time to pack and pick up your shipment.

New Dry Ice Pick-up Service!

As part of our ongoing commitment to support research collaborations, we are introducing a brand-new Dry Ice Pick-up Service for your research material shipments.

How It Works:

You can enjoy the convenience of requesting dry ice pickups when you submit a research material shipping request. Simply submit a shipping request via the following link (https://utmb.us/6g5) and select the option for “Dry Ice Pick-up” or give us a call at (409) 772-1871, and our dedicated team will coordinate the pickup at a time that suits your shipping schedule. *Please note that an FRS will need to be provided for billing purposes*

Benefits of Our Dry Ice Pick-up Service:

  • Streamlined process for your research material shipments.
  • Reduces missed shipments due to not receiving dry ice orders on time.
  • Ensures the integrity of your valuable materials with proper dry ice handling.

We Value Your Feedback: Your satisfaction is our priority. As we launch this service, we would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please feel free to reach out to us at https://forms.office.com/r/0MaDHp7mZY with any questions or suggestions.

For more information or questions please contact DOB at (409) 772-1781 or email us at ehsship@UTMB.EDU.