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Courier Packing and Shipping Guide

This guide is offered to our contracted courier companies and their drivers to help them safely and legally package and ship medical specimens to Mayo Medical Laboratories for testing.

Although this document makes many references to regulatory requirements, it is not intended to serve as a comprehensive training program for Department of Transportation (DOT) or International Air Transport Association (IATA) training requirements. We highly recommend that anyone involved in transporting medical specimens become familiar with the many governmental and airline regulations pertinent to these types of shipments. The US DOT Web site contains technical information about compliance with the Dangerous Goods regulations. These regulations apply to both ground and air transport. In addition, the IATA Web site provides information on airline requirements.

Various federal and international agencies have published rules and regulations that are available on the internet regarding the transportation of medical specimens. These include:

ICAO International Civil Aviation Administration
IATA International Air Transport Association
DOT Department of Transportation
CDC Centers for Disease Control
TSA Transportation Safety Administration
FDA Food and Drug Administration
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
FAA Federal Aviation Administration

For more information, call Mayo Medical Laboratories at 800-533-1710 and ask to speak with a Transportation Specialist.

As regulations, methods, and packaging materials change over time, we urge the reader to obtain the most current information available when shipping medical specimens. Please refer to our Web site at


This guide has been developed to meet the following objectives:

  • Provide instructions for packaging specimens
  • Provide information about supplies
  • Use as a tool for training additional staff members

Specimen Integrity

Specimens must be packed and shipped properly for accurate testing, which helps ensure that patients receive optimal treatment. A specimen may not be viable for testing if it becomes too cold or too hot. It may be necessary to collect another specimen from the patient, which may delay treatment. People’s lives may depend on our work.

Mayo Medical Laboratories’ goal is to ensure that all medical specimens arrive at the testing facility:

  • At the correct temperature for testing
  • Intact in the container, without breakage or leakage
  • In the shortest possible time
  • In compliance with all applicable regulations

This guide has been prepared to help couriers understand their role in accomplishing these goals. By following the guidelines for proper specimen preparation, packing, shipping, and documentation, couriers can comply with regulations and safely transport Mayo Medical Laboratories specimens.

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