Shipping Biological Materials

The MIT Biosafety Program provides shipping services to the research community to ship biological materials. The following is a list of items to accomplish before the shipment may be sent:


  • Click to fill out the “Intent to Ship Biological Materials Form”. Please be specific about the biological materials, as well as any chemical or media materials required to maintain viability of the sample. Also, please indicate whether dry ice is needed.
  • Make certain to have a supply of dry ice if necessary. If you do not have access to a dry ice supply, you may order dry ice from “Dry Ice Corporation.” For more information, please visit or contact the Boston Regional Sales Person, Charlie Carhill at
  • Make certain that you have an appropriate air waybill for the shipment. International waybills differ from domestic waybills, and carriers (Fedex, DHL) have specific air waybills that must be used. These may be filled out online, but you must register for a logon from the carrier. Ascertain whether or not your lab has an account, or your department has an umbrella account for shipments. If they have an account, check for hard copy air waybills. If not, you may register online and fill out associated documents on the carrier websites.
  • To prepare for an international shipment, you must have your recipient check for any necessary import permits needed in order to bring materials into the destination country. Each country has specific requirements. If appropriate paperwork is not received by the customs officials in the destination country, the material will not be allowed entrance. In some instances, the customs office may contact you and paper work will be rushed, and in other cases the package will be destroyed. Therefore, it is highly imperative to work out paperwork requirements before sending the package to an international location.
  • If you are sending an international shipment, you will need to also fill out a Commercial Invoice. These can be found online or hard copy may be available if an account already exists.
  • Work with the Biosafety Program to properly classify the material. If you are not trained, a member of Biosafety Program will help you to package the materials appropriately.

Useful Websites for Shipping:

Cheatsheet for Permitting: