Step 3: Shipment - Crime Lab Submissions

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Evidence Packaging and Storage

  • Below are general guidelines
  • Nature of evidence and/or type of testing to be performed generally will dictate packaging and storage location
  • Upon receipt, if evidence is improperly packaged, it will be rectified


Generally, plastic as well as paper are acceptable means of packaging this type of evidence

Botanical Material room temp,
if wet, dry thoroughly before packaging,
if sending full plant, remove roots before packaging
Capsules, Tablets room temp
Drug paraphernalia room temp
Food products (beverages and perishable items) refrigerate (leak proof containers for liquids)
Liquids (other than biological or beverages) leak proof containers, room temp
Non-biological samples suspect to contain LSD light protected, room temp
Powders room temp
Syringes, razor blades puncture proof container,
room temp,
remove needle from syringe before packaging, if possible

Primary Container for Toxicology/Biological Samples

The labeled primary specimen container must be securely sealed, crushproof, and liquid-tight (leak-proof). In most cases, the primary container will be a stoppered tube, or screw-top bottle. Affix a biohazard symbol to the primary container.

Shipping Glass Test Tubes

We recommend the following procedures when shipping glass tubes. DO NOT FREEZE SPECIMENS IN GLASS TEST TUBES. If glass test tubes must be frozen, they must be placed at a shallow angle slant during freezing to avoid cracking the tube. Glass tubes may be individually placed in secondary containment tubes or placed in a protective foam box. If a foam box is used, the box is to be placed in a secondary leak-proof container such as a plastic zipper bag described below. Do not allow tubes to come in contact with each other to avoid breakage during shipping.

Secondary Container

Each primary container is to be placed in a secondary container. The secondary container must contain enough absorbent material to absorb the entire liquid contents of the primary container if it should break in transit. All shipping containers must be packaged to fully contain leakage/spillage in accordance with applicable federal laws.

Cooling Agents

Specimens which require refrigerated temperatures should be shipped with a minimum of two frozen gel packs placed in the bottom of a foam container and in close contact with the specimen(s). Specimens requiring frozen transport are to be immediately frozen following collection and shipped in a foam container completely filled with a sufficient volume of dry ice in order to preserve the specimens during the anticipated shipping time. Include appropriate hazardous materials labeling on the outer box if dry ice is used.

Required Documents

Analysis Requisitions and other documents (i.e. manifest, chain of custody forms, etc.) are to be placed in a separate pouch or separate sealed plastic bag and must be shipped in the same box containing the specimens.

External Shipping Labeling

The outer container must be labeled and sealed to indicate that it contains potentially hazardous materials. Labels to identify Exempt Human Specimen or UN3373 specimens must be affixed to the outer container. If dry ice is used this must be noted as dangerous goods on the outer box. Compliance with U.S. Postal and/or commercial carrier requirements is necessary.

International Shipment of Specimens

The shipment of human diagnostic specimens internationally is regulated by the CDC import program. Normal human biological samples that are not known to contain infectious agents (e.g. Ebola, HIV, HBV/HCV) can be shipped through customs by the sender with a certification statement letter only (see below). If there is any knowledge that the samples may contain an infectious agent, then the paperwork from the shipper must list the potential infectious agents and each shipment MUST contain a CDC permit copy listing the name of the person at NMS Labs who will be receiving the shipment. DO NOT send both documents in a single shipment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires whoever is responsible for the shipment (e.g., sender or recipient) to provide one of the following documents in each shipment of biological samples:

  • CDC/Import Permit Program Permit (IPP) OR
  • A Certification Statement

The Import Permit must include the NMS Labs contact name that will be listed on the shipment paperwork (e.g. Jane Smith is listed as the Permittee but if her name is not listed on the paperwork for each shipment the NMS contact name must be added to the permit. See QA for processing each request.) The lead-time to obtain a permit is approximately 2+ weeks.

The Certification Statement must include a statement on official letterhead signed by the sender and clearly providing:

  1. An accurate and detailed description of the material;
  2. A statement that this material
  • is not known or suspected to contain infectious biological agents, infectious substances, or vectors OR
  • has been rendered noninfectious and describes the method(s) used to render the shipment noninfectious; and
  1. Verification that it has been packaged, labeled, and transported in accordance with all applicable regulations.

The Certification Statement must originate from a medical establishment, licensed physician, government agency or research institute.

Shipments must not be leaking. Please refer to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations for packaging and shipping.