How to ship your samples to PhenoSwitch

Posted by Jean-Philippe Couture, Ph.D. on October 18, 2017

Simple rules to ensure successful delivery of your samples

Here we are! The quote has been approved and signed. You are excited to finally get MS results for your project and start thinking about shipping your precious biological samples to PhenoSwitch. Since we're all about getting your samples in the best possible condition, we decided to write some of the rules that should be followed to ensure proper shipment of your package to Canada (if you are outside Canada)!

Disclaimer: Those are guidelines, the shipper is always responsible for proper identification, packing, labeling and following transportation rules when shipping samples.


When shipping samples to us from outside of Canada (general guidelines for temperature sensitive biological):

For starters, here are some of the main rules to respect if you don’t want trouble!

  1. Ship on Monday or Tuesday (Wednesday is the maximum limit, but chances are the package gets held at customs during the weekend);
  2. Include enough dry ice for 3-4 days;
  3. Always include a detailed pro-format invoice with details of your goods and estimate price of the goods (see tips below); 
  4. When evaluating the amount of time needed to ship your package, always add an extra day to what the carrier tells you for custom clearance;
  5. Send us the tracking number of your package and a copy of the pro-format, as we'll keep on eye on it. If we notice something unusual, we'll call the carrier to see what is going on.
  6. Always pack in a triple layer package method. 
  7. Please, IDENTIFY YOUR SAMPLES!  You would be amazed the see the number of packages we received with no names, no affiliation and a handful of microtubes identified with nothing but numbers. In every box/bag, please include a printed sheet with at least the following :
    1. Your name
    2. Your affiliation
    3. The number of samples
    4. A brief description of the samples
    5. Whatever additional information you deem necessary.

Which carriers should I use?

From our experience, both Fedex and UPS do a great job for US package. From Europe, note that DHL Canada doesn't carry dangerous goods (like dry ice). Please follow carrier rules for dry ice shipment as it’s classified as dangerous goods.

If your samples are very precious World Courier can assist you, providing temperature controlled shipment (more $$$). Other temperature control courier exist.


Pro-format invoice tips

  1. Describe the material as clearly and simple as possible. State it is "for analysis and research, no commercial value".
  2. The correct description of pathogen-free samples is: EXEMPT HUMAN / ANIMAL SPECIMEN
  3. Some Harmonized Code (helps the border agency understand what is in the package)
    1. Plasma/blood/serum: 3002.90
    2. Tissues: 3001.90
    3. Prepared samples: 3822.00.1090
    4. Other samples for analysis 3822.00.00.30
  4. Including a material safety data or certificate of conformance is always good, even if the shipper’s declaration is not necessary for exempt specimens.
  5. Minimal per item price is the price of the samples container (e.g. tubes). Usually, an Eppendorf tube is worth less than 1$, so there is no use putting more than that. But writing 0$ value items will raise flags. Just be fair, this way we don't pay fees that are useless but the package price will look realistic!

Shipping address

975 Rue Leon-Trepanier
Sherbrooke, Quebec
J1G 5J6
Mobile phone: Contact us to get Hugo's mobile phone number

Final notice

There you go! You can now ship your samples to PhenoSwitch. If you follow these simple rules, your shipment should arrive at our labs safely, without unpleasant delays. On a final note, this blog post is in no way an official document. It was written for help only. The final responsibility relies on the shipper. For any questions, feel free to call us or your carrier.

Topics: Sample preparation, Mass spectrometry, Sample shipping, shipping samples to PhenoSwitch

Written by Jean-Philippe Couture, Ph.D.

Jean-Philippe Couture
Jean-Philippe is an Application Specialist in charge of Customer Experience at PhenoSwitch Bioscience.
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