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Accreditation: Know oxygen transport rules

Accreditation: Know oxygen transport rules

Harold DavisQ. When transporting a small quantity of oxygen tanks, am I required to have shipping papers or a manifest?

A. This is a question asked frequently by home medical equipment companies. There is also a fair amount of confusion among Department of Transportation (DOT) officers regarding the need for a manifest. Surveyors for accreditation organizations have also cited organizations for not documenting balances of tanks the driver is transporting.

So, what is the regulation regarding the transportation of small quantities of tanks?

It is true that if you are transporting 1,000 or more pounds of oxygen you must be placarded, and the driver must have a CDL license. There is a DOT regulation called Materials of Trade (MOT), which allows for transportation of hazardous materials in direct support of a principal business. This regulation allowed, for example, a welder to transport oxygen and acetylene tanks that are used in day-to-day business operations. Companies that fall under the MOT regulation are allowed to transport one tank of hazardous material weighing no more than 220 pounds and a total weight of no more than 440 pounds.

In 2017, there was a question sent to the DOT by a consultant on behalf of medical equipment companies. The DOT responded with an opinion letter than can be found at It was the opinion of the DOT that medical equipment companies transporting oxygen for their patients did fall under the MOT regulation. Because they are part of the MOT regulation and the quantity of tanks remain under the thresholds stated above, shipping papers or a manifest is not required.

It is suggested that the opinion letter be printed and kept in the vehicle in case this is ever an issue when being inspected by a DOT officer. You can locate the MOT brochure at

Harold Davis is director of survey services for HQAA. Reach him at


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