Shipping Guide

It is important to know the shipping guidelines, radioactivity regulations, and personnel contacts prior to any sample shipment. Keep the following in mind when preparing shipments:

  • Understand the federal, state, and local laws and regulations where you will be shipping from.
  • Know your home facility’s radioactivity guidelines and who the radiological safety officer is to coordinate your plans with them.
When to Ship

Samples and equipment should arrive at least three business days (seven is preferred) before the scheduled beam time to avoid any delays in the experiment. It is your responsibility to determine when to ship samples from your home institution to meet this requirement.

Be aware of and avoid shipping around  U.S. federal holidays, as it could delay the arrival of shipments.

How to Ship

To ensure materials are shipped appropriately and processed correctly upon arrival, review the below requirements.

Instrument-specific shipping requirements may exist. Refer to the applicable instrument page or speak with your contact to determine any specific shipping requirements for the instrument you will be using.

If shipping from outside the United States, please review International Shipping for additional requirements.

ORNL Requirements for Processing Samples

  1. Confirm sample information in the Integrated Proposal Tracking System (IPTS)
    Review the status of your proposal in  IPTS. All samples must be confirmed and approved by the facility before arriving. Do not send samples that have not been confirmed and approved.
  2. Provide a correct parcel shipping address
    When confirming your proposal, provide a parcel shipping address for return. Coordinate with your institution’s Radiation Safety Officer to determine the most conservative return address. It is best to assume samples will have residual radioactivity after the experiment. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)will not return samples to a home address.
  3. Include a detailed packing list of all samples and materials
    Individually label/identify your sample(s) and indicate sample constituent/formula. Samples that are not clearly identified will cause delays.
  4. Include Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
    If there are no SDSs available for your samples, send an SDS for each constituent/ingredient (not element) of your sample. For information on what an SDS requires, visit  OSHA .

Samples that are Fissile and Special Nuclear Materials

If shipping samples that are fissile materials, special nuclear materials, or require something beyond a typical commercial carrier, please contact The User Labs and Sample Support team will coordinate with ORNL’s Radiation Protection Officer.

Shipping Containers

Ensure the shipping container looks professional and clean. A new outer container without an excess of tape or markings is best. Otherwise, remove or blackout pre-existing labels on the container.

Shipping Providers

You are encouraged to use a shipping provider who delivers directly to ORNL, such as  FedExUPS, and DHL. Shipments from these providers are considered priorities and are processed through the ORNL shipping facilities within 8-24 hours of delivery.

Please be aware that the use of the United States Postal Service (USPS) may delay the processing of samples due to a longer lead time for sorting.

If shipping from outside the United States, you are responsible for all aspects of the U.S. Customs clearance process. This includes payment of applicable duties or fees. Go to the International Shipments section for more information.

Special Handling Requirements

If a sample has one or more special requirements, please include them in the Attention Line, such as Refrigerated, -20 freezer or-80 freezer, Anaerobic, otherwise leave blank.

If special temperature is selected, do not ship over a weekend.

Send tracking numbers to

Where to Ship

Sample shipments should be sent to the facility where the experiment will occur (HFIR or SNS) and labeled whether it is non-radioactive or radioactive, Department of Transportation (DOT) Class 7.

Contact for questions or information about how to ship samples that fall outside of the provided classifications.

If the carrier (such as UPS) requires a “ship to” person, ship to Jaimie Werner.

Non-Radioactive Materials

Experiments at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) ship to:

Recipient: IPTS <your IPTS number>, SNS User Sample

Oak Ridge National Laboratory / SNS Site

9500 Spallation Drive

Bldg. 8600, Rm G-201 <Special requirements (example: freezer or inert gas)>

Oak Ridge, TN 37830

SNS Sample Management Desk phone number: 865-382-846

Experiments at the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) ship to:

Recipient: IPTS <your IPTS number>, HFIR User sample

Oak Ridge National Laboratory / HFIR Site

1 Bethel Valley Road

Bldg. 7972 Room 100 <Special requirements (example: freezer or inert gas)>

Oak Ridge, TN 37830

HFIR Sample Management Desk phone number: 865-237-0602

Radioactive Materials (DOT Class 7)

Unless samples are fissile materials, special nuclear materials, or require something beyond a typical commercial carrier, ship them to the address below with the proper DOT packaging, placarding, and/or labeling for the radionuclides and activity. Please include your facility’s report of radionuclide composition in your shipment.

Experiments at SNS ship to:

Recipient: IPTS <your IPTS number>, SNS User Sample

Oak Ridge National Laboratory / SNS Site

1 Bethel Valley Road

Bldg. 7120 <Special requirements (example: freezer or inert gas)>

Oak Ridge, TN 37830

SNS Sample Management Desk phone number: 865-382-8466

Experiments at HFIR ship to:

Recipient: IPTS <your IPTS number>, HFIR User Sample

Oak Ridge National Laboratory / HFIR Site

1 Bethel Valley Road

Bldg. 7120 <Special requirements (example: freezer or inert gas)>

Oak Ridge, TN 37830

HFIR Sample Management Desk phone number: 865-237-0602

Sample Disposition (What happens to samples after the experiment)

ORNL is not a repository for samples. During the experiment confirmation in IPTS and the check-in process upon arrival, you are required to choose an option for sample disposition. Please help the staff by making the appropriate arrangements for your samples during confirmation and check-in.

After the experiment is complete, the options for sample disposition are:

  1. Sample Disposal, or
  2. Sample Return

ORNL staff will determine when samples and user-supplied equipment can be returned after the experiment is complete. Samples may be stored at ORNL for a limited time only with explicit approval from ORNL management.

Sample Activation for Return Shipments

If you choose to have your sample(s) returned after the experiment, discuss outbound shipping needs with your instrument contact or sample support representative at check-in. If a sample’s level of radioactivity prohibits removal from the building, it will be stored onsite until it can be safety shipped to your home institution.

If you or your institution cannot take receipt of a sample after the experiment, special arrangements, up to and including payment of disposal or shipping fees, will need to be made.

International Shipping

Shipments from outside the United States require additional considerations for materials to arrive safely and on time for experiments.



  1. Broker (Brokerage Services)– A liaison company for the sender that takes responsibility for the shipment and gets it cleared through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  2. Freight Forwarder– A firm that arranges delivery of goods on instructions from a broker.
  3. Full Service Transportation Providers– Companies who ship materials and process them through U.S. Customs and Border Protection without going to an outside broker.
  4. Importer of Record (IOR)– The importer, whether a company or individual, who is responsible for ensuring legal goods are imported in accordance with the law. They are responsible for filing required documents and paying the import duties and other taxes.

Please choose a service that requires your carrier to pick up your samples at your institution and deliver them to ORNL.

Express carriers, such as FedExDHL, and UPS are full-service transportation providers that typically have in-house brokerage services to expedite delivery of materials. The advantages of using a full-service provider are: comprehensive guidance, in-transit temperature monitoring, country-specific import export requirements, and expedited customs brokerage.

Additional full-service transportation providers include World CourierAeronet, and Quick Intl.

If you choose to use a freight forwarder, please confirm they have a brokerage service or will work with the broker you have selected to act on your behalf to have your shipment cleared through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Advise your broker, freight forwarder, or full-service transportation provider you are the Importer of Record (IOR), or you may ask if they will act as IOR on your behalf.

Shipping times can vary widely. It is recommended to ship materials at least seven business days before the experiment is scheduled to begin. Involving your broker, freight forwarder, or full-service transportation provider early will help determine expected lead times to meet required research schedules.

The following must be included on packages shipped from outside the United States:

  1. Your organization’s address
  2. Your full name and contact information as the exporter (phone number and email address required)
  3. ORNL’s name and shipping address

Delivery Duty Paid (DDP)

You are responsible for the payment of all applicable duties or fees when shipping from outside the United States. Select “Delivery Duty Paid” (DDP) as the Incoterms rules on a proforma invoice.


Deliveries to ORNL are primarily delayed due to incomplete or incorrect paperwork. These include generic material descriptions, missing Pro Forma Invoice or a Pro Forma Invoice not in English, missing Safety Data Sheet (SDS), incorrect recipient, no specified broker, etc.

The documents listed below are often missing from shipments sent to ORNL and cause arrival delays:

  1. Pro Forma Invoice (must be in English, with a detailed description of the materials)
  2. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) form
  3. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Intended Use Statement
    It is important to accurately fill out the description/intended use for your sample. This indicates to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection there is minimal or no intrinsic value for your sample(s). You must show market value to prevent delays. Using “collaborative research” as the intended use, for example, should allow for duty/tax-free entry.
    The FDA Intended Use Statement should be on the shipper’s letterhead (Importer of Record) and include:
    • Date
    • Name and description of the chemical/material
    • Statement of the intended use of the material
    • Printed name and signature of shipper/subject matter expert
  4. Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  5. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code
    The material will require an HTS classification code for U.S. Customs processing. Please refer to the above website for more detailed information on obtaining the correct HTS code. Your broker, freight forwarder, or full-service transportation providers may be able to help you with identifying the appropriate code to use. This code should be included on the shipping documents.