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IATA Time & Temperature Sensitive Label Mandatory by 1 July 2012

IATA Time & Temperature Sensitive Label Mandatory by 1 July 2012


Today the air cargo industry is using the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR) as the essential reference guide for all parties involved in the packaging and handling of perishables for air transportation. Chapter 17 “Air Transport Logistics for Time and Temperature Sensitive Healthcare Products” in the PCR specifically addresses the temperature control management issues identified by the industry. 

This Chapter provides the requirements for the transportation of time and temperature sensitive healthcare cargo shipments and also sets out standards such as the use of the IATA Time and Temperature Sensitive label, developed together with the air cargo supply chain, and first introduced on July 1st, 2010. The air cargo industry recognizes this label as a best practice. Thus, effective July 1st, 2012 the IATA Time and Temperature Sensitive label will become mandatory for the transportation of healthcare cargo shipments, pursuant to the Cargo Services Conference Resolution Manual Resolution 607, Section 1. 

The decision to implement this step resulted from a collective recommendation supported by the Time and Temperature Task Force and Working Group members1 and endorsed by the IATA Live Animals and Perishables Board. Standard “Time and Temperature Sensitive” label The Time and Temperature Sensitive label is a shipment label, specific to the healthcare industry, that must be affixed to all shipments booked as time and temperature sensitive cargo. It is the responsibility of the shipper (or designated shipper’s agent by service agreement) to ensure the label is applied properly for time and temperature sensitive healthcare cargo shipments booked as such. 

The lower half of the label must never be left blank and must indicate the external transportation temperature range of the shipment. The temperature range must only be shown in Celsius. No other temperature information must be indicated on the label except, when agreed between the parties it may be used to communicate the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) number.

(The temperature indicated on the lower half of the label must match the approved transportation temperature range, e.g. +15oC to +25oC)

The initial booking is the key step to successful cargo transportation and will trigger the specific and/or appropriate handling and operational processes associated to healthcare transport and/or logistics. The label only supports the booking, thus the transportation temperature range specified on the label must match the transportation temperature range stated on the Air Waybill, Service Level Agreement (SLA) or Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). 

In the event that the shipper fails to complete the lower half of the label or in case of discrepancy the transportation temperature indicated on the Air Waybill (or on the SOP or SLA if no temperature is mentioned on the Air Waybill) prevails. In addition, a 24-hour contact telephone number(s) of a person knowledgeable about the shipment must be provided at the time of booking and on the Air Waybill as well as in the SLA or SOP, to allow contacting the appropriate person in the event of a significant delay or disruption to the shipment that may impact on the viability of the contents of the shipment.

Key benefits of the label

Better identification

  • One unique, universally accepted and recognized label for all temperature sensitive healthcare cargo shipments
  • Reflects the external temperature range required during transportation 

Faster supply chain transit handling 

  • Strengthens the overall supply chain by increasing visibility and awareness

Greater reliability and accuracy

  • Reduces delays due to inaccurate or inconsistent handling information
  • Provides uniform and clear transportation temperature range during the handling and operational processes 

Decreases risk

  • Reduces risk of mishandling that may affect the quality of the healthcare product
  • Reduces risk of adverse exposure

Working towards international standards 

The IATA Live Animals and Perishables Board, comprised of 12 Airline members, endorse healthcare standards for the air cargo industry recommended by the Time and Temperature Task Force members and Working Groups. IATA’s aim is to ensure the integrity of the time and temperature sensitive healthcare cargo shipments and that the air cargo supply chain is prepared to handle the demands of these healthcare shipments. 

It is imperative that airlines, ground handling agents and other stakeholders in the supply chain – including freight forwarders, terminal operators, ULD manufacturers, packaging and tracking and tracing companies – are familiar both with the regulations and the appearance of the label. To achieve this, the provisions of Chapter 17 in the existing Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR) will be enhanced in its 12th edition of July 2012 to set mandatory minimum requirements and focus on the end-to-end business processes. 

For more information, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list is available on the IATA website using the following link: