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What requirements would apply to export or import of wastes associated with the novel Coronavirus or Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

At present, there are no U.S. federal export or import requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations for the transboundary shipment of medical waste or infectious waste. The hazardous waste regulations under RCRA do not define wastes as hazardous due to their infectious nature, including wastes contaminated with the COVID-19 virus. But export or import shipments of such waste would be subject to the laws and regulations of the other country sending or receiving the shipments, any countries the shipments would go through, and any applicable international agreements.

Under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (“Basel Convention”), the Basel hazardous waste A4020 listing (“Clinical and related wastes; that is wastes arising from medical, nursing, dental, veterinary, or similar practices, and wastes generated in hospitals or other facilities during the investigation or treatment of patients, or research projects”) may apply to transboundary shipments of such medical wastes. Information on the import requirements, export requirements and competent authority contacts for specific countries are available at the Export and Import Control ToolExit.

Finally, if the waste being shipped is controlled as hazardous by only one of the countries of export and import, then the notice and consent procedures and other associated procedures are administered by the country that controls the waste as hazardous. This is referenced in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations section 262.82(a)(2)(ii). Please note that while the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration do not consider wastes associated with coronavirus or COVID-19 to be U.S. Department of Transportation Category A Infectious Substances, other countries may categorize these wastes as a Category A Infectious Substance, therefore in such cases transboundary shipments would need to comply with those countries’ requirements related to Category A infectious substances.

Return to Frequent Questions about Waste and Coronavirus (COVID-19).