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Can I airfreight magnets?

Correct classification of magnets requires accurate measurements, which supermagnete cannot provide. Magnets are generally considered dangerous goods and can only be shipped by airfreight under certain circumstances. The United Nations lists magnets under UN2807, Class 9.

When in doubt, we recommend avoiding airfreight.

According to IATA (International Air Transport Association) Packing Guideline 953 (formerly 902), a shipment with magnets falls under one of three categories:

1. Airfreight forbidden (magnetic field too large)

If the package with the magnets (including magnetic shielding packaging) creates a magnetic field of more than 0,00525 gauss (=5,25 mG = 0,525 µT) at a distance of 4,6 metres (in any direction), the transport of the package via air freight is generally forbidden.

2. Shipment unproblematic (magnetic field very small)

The second and more stringent test requires that at a distance of 2,1 metres from the package a magnetic field of less than 0,002 gauss (2 mG = 0,2 µT) is created.
If the package passes this test, the content is considered "not magnetised" for transport purposes and the package can be shipped. In that case, it is recommended to attach a shipping declaration that confirms that the package passed the stricter test and therefore can be viewed as non-magnetic. This can avoid possible delays due to inspections by authorities.

3. Shipment as a declared dangerous good (for all other cases)

If the package falls between the two categories, meaning the first test was passed but not the stricter second one, the package must be declared a dangerous good, which will lead to higher shipping costs and additional work. Also, there are certain airports that cannot be used in this case.
The aim is, therefore, to pass the stricter second test and airfreight the package without special measures. The big problem with this packing regulation lies in the fact that this measurement can only be done with expensive special equipment. Most magnetic field measuring devices cannot measure such weak magnetic fields.
A correct classification requires accurate measurements, which supermagnete cannot provide. When in doubt, we recommend avoiding airfreight. If the shipment is sent by means other than airfreight (train, truck, ship, etc.), magnets are not considered dangerous goods.

Neodymium magnets

Neodymium magnets create a far-reaching and strong magnetic field. The mandatory tests must be carried out accurately to prevent any risks as well as monetary fines from the aeronautical authority.

Ferrite magnets

Ferrite magnets create a much weaker magnetic field than neodymium magnets. Therefore, it takes less effort to pass the mandatory tests.

Magnetic sheets, magnetic tapes, C-profiles

Magnetic sheets, magnetic tapes and magnetic C-profiles produce a much weaker magnetic field than neodymium magnets. Therefore, they pass the required tests much easier.