Part of your responsibility as an accredited veterinarian is to ensure that specimen samples sent to a laboratory for testing and certiﬁcation are properly collected, prepared, identified, packed, and sent along with appropriate submission form(s). Most testing for regulatory work involves drawing and submitting blood samples, but you may also be required to submit other ﬂuid or tissue specimens. When submitting blood or serum samples, it is important to take precautions to provide adequate sample volume for testing and to prevent hemolysis, spoilage, or breaking of the sample tubes.
Diagnostic sample submission procedures are complex and consist of multiple regulatory shipping requirements enforced by multiple entities. Due to the complexity and length of these submission procedures, this guide will explain only what agencies are involved in shipping regulations and then direct you to several sources of information in the event that you have samples that need to be submitted to the laboratory. For shipment of samples for regulatory purposes you should contact either your State animal health official or your VS District Office.
The following are entities involved in the regulation of shipment of diagnostic samples:
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
DOT has regulatory authority over shipments of hazardous materials. Diagnostic specimens fall under this category. DOT regulations were revised in 2003 to harmonize U.S. requirements with international requirements and to enhance the safe transportation of diagnostic specimens. For further information, consult the DOT Web site.
U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
The USPS regulates hazardous material shipments of “diagnostic specimens” sent through the mail. Their regulations are consistent with those of DOT and IATA for shipments of diagnostic specimens. For further information, consult the USPS Web site.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
IATA is the trade association of the world’s airlines. Its regulations are tailored to United Nations technical instructions. IATA regulations must be followed for all shipments of diagnostic specimens by air whether sent within the United States or internationally. IATA regulations are consistent with DOT and USPS requirements for shipments of diagnostic specimens. For further information, consult the IATA Web site
If you need to submit diagnostic specimens in your role as an accredited veterinarian, we request that you follow the guidance below on how and where to get instructions on the sampling, packaging, and shipping of these specimens.
For routine diagnostic samples to be submitted to a State or university diagnostic laboratory
You should contact the laboratory for how the sample should be collected, prepared, packaged and shipped. Contact information for many State and university veterinary diagnostic laboratories is available at the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) web site.
Most laboratories have websites that will guide you to their diagnostic test offerings, submission form, and user fees.
For routine diagnostic samples to be submitted to NVSL
You should visit the NVSL web site to ensure you have the most current submission forms and instructions.
You should also visit the NVSL website that will provide you the most current information of available test and user fees.
For regulatory diagnostic samples to be submitted to NVSL at Ames, IA or FADDL at Plum Island, NY under the direction of your VS District Office
During normal working hours, contact your local VS Area Ofﬁce to determine how the sample should be collected and packaged and where the sample should be shipped.
For questions on Foreign Animal Disease Investigation submission after normal working hours
Please contact NVSL directly at (515) 663–7200. This phone number connects you with the night security at NVSL. Ask to speak with the manager on duty to determine how the sample should be collected and packaged and where it should be shipped.
Remember, even when submitting samples directly to a laboratory after hours, always provide the APHIS –VS Area Ofﬁce with a copy of the submission information. NVSL Laboratory submission forms (VS 10–4 and VS 10–4a) including instructions on completing the forms on are available electronically.