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Shipments of radioactive substances

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Shipments of radioactive substances

Following the removal of internal border controls as from 1 January 1993, this Regulation introduces a Community system for the declaration of shipments of radioactive substances between Member States, so that the competent authorities concerned receive the same level of information as before 1993 concerning radiation protection control.


Council Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93 of 8 June 1993 on shipments of radioactive substances between Member States.


In accordance with Directive Directive 96/29 Euratom each Member State must make it compulsory to report activities which involve a hazard arising from ionising radiation. In the light of possible dangers, activities are subject to prior authorisation in certain cases decided upon by each Member State.

Member States have consequently set up national systems in order to meet the requirements of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

Shipments of radioactive waste between Member States and into and out of the Community are subject to the specific measures laid down by Directive 2006/117. Each Member State must ensure that its own radioactive waste is properly managed.

The removal of internal border controls in the Community, as from 1 January 1993, has deprived the competent authorities of the Member States of information previously received through controls relating to shipments of radioactive substances. It is, however, important that the competent authorities concerned receive the same level of information as before in order to continue to implement their controls for radiation protection purposes.

This Regulation applies to shipments, between Member States, of sealed sources and other relevant sources, whenever the quantities and concentrations exceed the levels laid down in Article 3.2 (a) and (b) of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

In the case of nuclear materials, each Member State carries out all necessary controls, within its own territory, in order to ensure that each consignee of such materials shipped from another Member State complies with the national provisions implementing Article 3 of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

The Regulation defines a sealed source as a source of ionising radiation consisting of radioactive substances firmly incorporated in solid and effectively inactive materials, or sealed in an inactive container of sufficient strength to prevent, under normal conditions of use, any dispersion of radioactive substances. The Regulation also refers to nuclear materials as the special fissile materials, the source materials and the ores as defined in the Euratom Treaty.

Controls of shipments of sealed sources or other relevant sources between Member States under Community or national law for the purpose of radiation protection must be performed as part of the control procedures applied in a non-discriminatory manner throughout the territory of the Member State.

A holder of sealed sources who wishes to carry out a shipment of certain substances provided for by the Directive must obtain a prior written declaration by the consignee of these substances, using the standard documents, to the effect that he has complied with all applicable provisions implementing Article 3 of Directive 96/29/Euratom and with the relevant national requirements for safe storage, use or disposal of that class of source.

This declaration must be sent by the consignee to the competent authority of the Member State to which the shipment is to be made, which must confirm with a stamp that it has taken note of the declaration. This document must then be sent by the consignee to the holder of the substances.

The declaration may refer to more than one shipment, provided that:

  • the sealed sources to which the declaration relates have essentially the same physical and chemical characteristics;
  • the sealed sources to which it relates do not exceed the levels of activity set out in the declaration;
  • the shipments are to be made from the same holder to the same consignee and involve the same competent authorities.

The declaration is valid for a period of not more than three years from the date of stamping by the competent authority, in accordance with the procedure described above.

A holder of sealed sources and other relevant sources who has carried out a shipment of such sources, or arranged for such a shipment to be carried out, must provide the competent authorities in the Member State of destination with certain information within 21 days of the end of each calendar quarter. This information must relate to deliveries during the quarter, and must include:

  • the names and addresses of consignees;
  • the total activity per radionuclide delivered to each consignee and the number of such deliveries made;
  • the highest single quantity of each radionuclide delivered to each consignee;
  • the type of substance (sealed source or other relevant source).

Nothing in this Regulation affects existing national provisions and international agreements on the transport and transit of radioactive material, or the obligations and rights resulting from Directive 2006/117/Euratom.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93



OJ L 148, 19.6.1993


Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel [Official Journal L 337, 20.11.2006].

The European Union has a system of prior authorisation for all shipments of radioactive waste in order to provide greater protection against the dangers of ionising radiation. This system was established in 1992 and modified significantly in 2006 by a directive, which seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • to maintain consistency with the latest Euratom Directives, including Directive 96/29/Euratom, which it supplements, and Directive 2003/122/Euratom, and with the international conventions;
  • to clarify the procedure (amending and adding definitions, removing inconsistencies, simplifying the procedure between Member States, clarifying the linguistic arrangements, etc.);
  • to extend the application of the system to include spent fuel, whether or not it is intended for reprocessing.

Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation, and repealing Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom. [OJ L 13 of 17.01.2014].


Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the implementation by the Member States of Council Directive 2006/117/EURATOM on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuels [ COM(2013)240 final of 25.4.2013 - not published in the Official Journal]

The report’s main conclusions are as follows:

  • the Shipments Directive has been successfully transposed in all EU countries and the Directive is being fully implemented so as to guarantee an adequate protection of the population.
  • There are no major implementation problems: the issue of NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material) waste and clearance levels in the context of the shipment of radioactive waste has been identified and will be further followed-up by the advisory committee established under the Directive. As to shipments of radioactive wastes and spent fuel, the existing national provisions, notably those implementing the Directive laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation, allow the national competent authorities to monitor the movements of these shipments on their territory.
  • the number of authorisations of shipments is relatively small and there is a clear picture on exports outside the EU.
  • in implementing the Framework Directive 2011/70/EU on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, EU countries are required to take concrete decisions for the safe management of their radioactive waste and spent fuel. According to the report, this will also certainly have an impact on the shipments within, into and out of the EU. Future reporting will provide information on the trends in shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel.
  • no accidents leading to a release of radioactive substances to the environment and involving national or transboundary movements of radioactive waste or spent fuel were reported for the 3 years covered by the report.

Last updated: 07.04.2014