Limited quantity label LQ mark on containers

What are Limited Quantities?

Limited Quantities refers to dangerous goods that are shipped in small containers which are packed in boxes or shrink-wrapped trays. Because smaller quantities of hazardous materials packed in individual bottles pose less of a risk than when they are transported in larger volumes, some of the normal dangerous goods packaging & labelling regulations do not apply, but they must be identified by a Limited Quantity Label.

Whether or not a hazardous material may be shipped as a Limited Quantity depends upon various factors including: the hazard class and division for the substance or article; the size of the inner receptacle; and the total weight of the complete package. UN numbers also have different limits for Limited Quantities and some UN numbers do not allow for LQ at all.

For road (ADR) and sea (IMDG) transport, all Packing Group I dangerous goods are prohibited, but smaller quantities of Packing Groups II and III material can usually be sent as LQs. Transport by air (IATA) further restricts Limited Quantities to only certain classes and divisions in Packing Groups II and III, and even prohibits certain substances within those classes and divisions.

Some goods such as radioactive substances, infectious substances, explosives (except small arms ammunition) and substances liable to spontaneous combustion cannot be shipped as Limited Quantities due to the inherently dangerous nature of their properties.

Typical goods that fall under the Limited Quantity derogation include paints, varnishes, adhesives, drain cleaners and aerosols.



One of the main criteria for the Limited Quantity exemption is weight: this mainly depends on the size of the inner packaging which contains the material and then the overall gross weight of the outer package. For road and sea, the inner packaging (the immediate form of containment) can range up to 5kg/ltrs (max), but the outer package must not be more than 30kgs. For items on shrink-wrapped trays, the maximum package size is reduced to 20kgs.


When shipping Limited Quantities, it is important that the appropriate modal regulations are referred to for specific requirements due to the different range of conditions to the exception.  



Ltd qty label, LQ mark, ltd qty labels

The Limited Quantity Label (or LQ mark) is a diamond shaped symbol that is applied to packages to indicate that the products within the combination packaging are dangerous goods that are packaged in accordance with the Limited Quantity exemption. The labelling and marking requirements for LQ packaged goods are similar for both road and sea but differ considerably for air transport.

Under LQ requirements for ADR and IMDG there is no need to show either the PSN, UN number, hazard warning diamonds, or marine pollutant marks on the packages; these marks and labels are replaced by the Limited Quantity label. Orientation arrows may have to be applied under certain conditions of ADR (if the inner packages contain any liquids they should be displayed on two opposite vertical sides of the package).

The UN stipulates that the LQ mark must be a diamond-shaped mark measuring 100mmx100mm with the top and bottom elements in black. The central element is usually white, but it can be another colour provided it contrasts with the black of the mark.

The surrounding line must measure at least 100mmx100mm and be at least 2mm in width. If the package is too small, or of an irregular shape, to fit a full-size label, then a smaller label can be applied; these must be a minimum of 50mmx50mm (the width of the line forming the diamond can be reduced to 1mm).

Limited quantity labels are used to indicate hazardous products and therefore must be durable enough to withstand contact with potentially corrosive chemicals and harsh environments throughout the shipping process. Paper material is often used for limited quantity labels, however, depending on the application, a more durable, synthetic material like polypropylene should be considered for longevity and durability.  Strong adhesive is also a key component to making sure labels stick to packages and containers during handling and shipping. Missing labels can result in delays, large fines, and rejection of shipments.

The Limited Quantity label must be applied on at least one side, or one end, of the outer packaging and should ideally be placed in an orientation that shows the mark as a diamond and not a square (flat sides parallel to the sides of the packages).



Under ADR, transport vehicles carrying loads of LQ packages only, require an enlarged version of the LQ mark (250mm) to be applied to the front and rear of any vehicle exceeding 12t, and carrying more than 8t of LQ packages. However, if there are other fully regulated dangerous goods packages on the vehicle that require the application of the orange plates, then there is no requirement to display the enlarged LQ mark.

Whilst the LQ derogation means that these goods are not subject to many of the rules of ADR there are still some that apply. One of the main rules is that personnel must be trained in the requirements of ADR commensurate to their role. They must also receive safety training commensurate with the degree of risk of injury or exposure arising from the carriage of dangerous goods, and this includes loading and unloading. The training MUST also be recorded and retained by the employer.



IATA limited quantity sticker with Y, IATA

Air transport has differing overall package sizes depending on the type of goods, and even though there is no requirement for the strict UN packaging there are a number of additional requirements that have to be met.

For packages being transport by air, the marking is the same as for ADR and IMDG except that a ‘Y’ is shown in the central section. The ‘Y’ indicates that an LQ packing instruction has been complied with (these are prefixed with the letter ‘Y’). Unlike ADR and IMDG, all the standard labels and marks such as the UN number and Proper Shipping Name must also be shown in addition to the LQ mark.

The air LQ mark is also acceptable for road and sea transport but the mark without the ‘Y’ cannot be used for air shipments.



limited quantity placard

Although the enlarged Limited Quantity mark has dimensions identical to the hazard warning placards (250mm x 250mm), the Limited Quantity Mark is NOT a placard. Placards are enlarged class labels (warning diamonds) applied to vehicles, CTUs and intermediate bulk containers. A ‘mark’ is neither a label nor a placard but rather another form used to communicate special warnings or information on the products being carried.

The marking requirements for freight containers and CTUs under ADR and IMDG are the same.

CTUs containing ONLY dangerous goods in Limited Quantities (and no other dangerous goods) must be marked on the exterior with the enlarged LQ mark; they must appear on all four walls of the container or both sides and the rear of a vehicle. The LQ mark on a freight container means that ALL of the dangerous goods within the container (whether it’s one pallet or one hundred) are in Limited Quantities. If any part of the cargo within the freight container requires hazard warning labels, then the enlarged LQ markings do not apply and the freight container must be placarded on all four sides for the cargo requiring the hazard warning labels. The normal class hazard warning placards and LQ placard should not appear on a freight container at the same time.

If any of the dangerous goods consignment in Limited Quantities are also classified as ‘Marine Pollutant’, you must display the marine pollutant marks on all required sides of the CTU, even though they are not required on each package inside.


Reference should always be made to the relevant regulations to ensure compliance.

Hibiscus Plc has been providing regulatory advice and labelling solutions to dangerous goods retailers and wholesale chemical suppliers for over 40 years.

To BUY the Limited Quantity Label (LQ Mark) directly online, visit STOCK-XPRESS.COM