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Understanding Electronic Shipping Documents for the Transportation of Dangerous Goods

A Guide for Canadian Oil & Gas Transportation Providers

Electronic Shipping Documents (ESDs) are transforming the way we handle and manage transportation logistics. This digital shift not only streamlines processes but also enhances the safety and compliance standards for transport providers, particularly those operating in the Oil and Gas industry.

After a successful and informative two-year pilot project, Transport Canada can now provide Canadian carriers who transport dangerous goods with the ability to use electronic shipping documents and remain in compliance with Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) regulations.

Just like with paper tickets, forms, and other documentation, IronSight is able to support Canadian carriers in their move from paper TDG documentation to electronic.

Want to use electronic shipping documents for your business? Click here to speak with an expert.

Why Use Electronic Shipping Documents?

Because transporting dangerous goods comes with a number of inherent risks, standards and regulations are required in order to help keep Canadian roads safe. Over the course of its pilot program Transport Canada found that the use of electronic shipping documents for the transport of dangerous goods had a number of potential benefits:

  • Easier to update, read, and review
  • Improved compliance
  • Faster to share with emergency responders
  • Reduced likelihood that first responders need to enter a potentially hazardous situation
  • Can integrate with existing systems to improve accuracy, speed, and ease of access

For more details on key findings from Transport Canada’s study, we highly recommend you review the executive summary. Read the Executive Summary

How to Get Started

To use an ESD for TDG, you’ll first need to apply for an equivalency certificate.

A successful application will require you to submit both basic information (company name, contact details, etc.) and a detailed explanation of your proposed activity.

Part of your proposed activity explanation will involve detailing how your electronic shipping documentation system will work, and how it meets the requirements of the application.

Our team is able to help you understand the application process and support your move from paper to digital.

To learn more about the application process please visit Transport Canada’s “How to Apply” page.

Note: Some TDG Regulation documentation may still refer to the equivalency certificate as a “permit of equivalent level of safety”.  These terms are interchangeable.

Requirements for Using ESDs for TDG

In order to be approved for an equivalency certificate, you’ll need to meet some requirements.

Here’s a high-level overview of what you’ll need to do:

  • To comply with regulations, your company should already have an established electronic system.
  • The electronic shipping document must be readily available upon request.
  • Internet and cellular connectivity are necessary at both loading and unloading sites.
  • Companies are responsible for the procurement and acquisition of the required sign
  • Road vehicles must exhibit a sign indicating the use of electronic shipping documents. The sign, measuring 34 cm X 47 cm, should be displayed on the right side, left side, and rear of the truck. It should include the unit number, emergency telephone number, and equivalency certificate number.
  • Rail vehicles must have a paper copy of instructions on accessing electronic shipping documents placed inside the lead locomotive.
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems must display a small sign on the exterior of the aircraft.

The information provided above is not a comprehensive list of requirements. For more information on requirements please contact

Are ESDs the Same as E-TDG?

You may have heard terms like Electronic Transportation of Dangerous Goods (E-TDG), Digital TDG (D-TDG), and Digital Payload Manifest used to refer to ESDs used for TDG.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, if you’d like to utilize ESDs for TDG, you’ll want to ensure you and your team can speak the same language as Transport Canada should you choose to apply for an equivalency certificate.


Refers to both the act of transporting dangerous goods, as well as the regulatory framework required to help keep Canadian roads safe, while carriers like you deliver the goods and services required to provide the energy that powers the Canadian economy.


Refers to electronic documentation used to record the movement of goods. While they might be used for documentation required for TDG, ESDs may also refer to Bills of Lading, Packing Lists, Certificates of Origin, and a number of other commonly used digital documents.

First Responders and ESDs for TDG  

If a first responder arrives on the scene of an incident involving dangerous goods, what should they do? Below are some resources provided by Transport Canada on their ESD information page:

A Visual Guide for Road Vehicles

Video for Road Vehicles

Video for Rail Vehicles

Please note that these resources are provided for informational purposes only and not intended to be a comprehensive guide for first responders.

Using IronSight as Your TDG App

While you aren’t required to use any particular electronic system for your equivalency certificate application, you may want to consider using IronSight for a number of reasons:



Although there is no approval certificate for software systems, IronSight has already demonstrated our platform to Transport Canada on behalf of approved clients. Should you choose to apply, we will be able to support you throughout the application process.


Ease of Use

IronSight is designed to be a simple, connected platform that makes your workflows as straightforward as possible. For a general demonstration of how IronSight might be used to support TDG, view the video at the top of the page.



If you’re already using IronSight, then using IronSight for your ESD system makes a lot of sense.

If you are using a different system, or you don’t have a system in place, you may find value in IronSight’s other capabilities, such as real-time scheduling and GPS tracking, electronic BoLs, Digital Forms, and more.

To learn more about IronSight’s capabilities please visit our features and benefits page.

Have questions about the Electronic Shipping Documentation process, or how IronSight can help you implement ESDs for TDG?