All visitors bringing material to the ESRF, including samples or equipment, are advised that such equipment or material remains entirely the responsibility of the visitors concerned.

All samples and equipment brought into the ESRF must be authorised in advance. Equipment and substances which must be checked include: lasers, bacteria, viruses, inflammable substances, toxic substances and radioactive materials. Radioactive sources are forbidden.

Please note that deliveries to the ESRF by any type of transport service can only be made from Monday to Friday (08:00 to 17:00).

Failure to follow the instructions below could result in costs to your laboratory.


If you wish to bring samples in addition to those mentioned on your proposal, you must declare them by submitting sample sheets and then add them to your A-form once they have been approved by the Safety Officer. You may then bring or send them to the site.

For Structural Biology (MX) samples:

The main proposer of a Structural Biology (MX) experiment must submit, using the A Form, a list of sample sheets to be studied during the experiment. The electronic sample sheets, which supply detailed information on the sample(s), are transmitted to the Safety Group and the Local Contact. New sample sheets can be added up to 3 days before the experiment. Go to the electronic sample sheet.

From April 2018 - ESRF financial support for transport of Structural Biology sample dewars

For non-Structural Biology samples:

The main proposer of a non-Structural Biology experiment must create the sample sheet(s) before the submission of the A Form, and register the sample(s) through the submission of the A Form (tab "Samples"). After the submission of the A Form, the sample(s) must be declared through ICAT which serves the purpose of tracking all non-Structural Biology samples sent or brought by the users on-site for experiments to be performed at the ESRF; before sending a parcel of samples or ancillary equipment to the ESRF, users must declare those elements in the shipment corresponding to their experiment session in ICAT, ask for safety authorisation, and print the label created by ICAT to affix to the parcel to be sent. This procedure is detailed here

How to create a shipment step by step: "Non-Structural Biology samples : how to create a shipment"


Need an airport form?

The airport form is helpful for users returning home with dewars or crystallization trays. Request an airport form when you complete the A Form. The airport form is only valid for going back from the ESRF to your home institute.


If you bring equipment that is not specified on your proposal, please contact the Safety Officer for authorisation. For example, lasers must be examined before being authorised for use.

If you need to carry out any electrical work for the installation of your equipment, you will also need to contact the ESRF Safety Officer for authorisation. You will need to bring a document from your employer stating that you have the necessary technical and safety knowledge in this field.

Transport procedures


Users transporting samples only within France are responsible for respecting French law. 

Users from European Union (EU) countries

Users from institutions or laboratories in European Union member states may temporarily import material for experiments, with no formalities. The material is introduced under the responsibility of the user(s) concerned and may remain at the ESRF for a maximum period of two years. 

Users from non-EU countries

Users from non-European Union countries will need to follow customs clearance procedures for any equipment or samples they wish to use for experiments at the ESRF. There are three possible procedures which, if followed carefully, will ensure that you avoid difficulties and delays.

1. You intend to bring your equipment/ high value samples (>150E) with you and take it back with you

You must obtain a temporary admissions certificate. The admissions certificate is called a carnet ATA, or Carnet de Passages en Douane pour l'Admission Temporaire. It can be obtained from the nearest customs agency, world trade centre or chamber of commerce. On arrival in France, you must declare the goods at customs, who will stamp the carnet. When you leave France, you must have the certificate stamped again by customs. No further action should be necessary. 

2. You wish to import and re-export equipment/high value samples (>150E) not covered by procedure 1.

Contact the following shipping company, who will make all the necessary arrangements for customs clearance and delivery of your goods:

Grenoble Branch
B.P. 4
38950 Saint-Martin le Vinoux

Tel: +33 (0)4 76 56 57 12
Fax: +33 (0)4 76 56 57 11

Contact person:
Rachida Belaid -

The company Ziegler France SA will require from you full details as follows:

  • your name, address, telephone and fax numbers
  • weight, number of packets, nature and value of goods
  • the dates of your proposed visit to the ESRF
  • Your institute's EORI number
  • other details, as necessary: e.g. maker's name, serial number

Ziegler will advise you of the shipping company to be used and will then take care of all necessary procedures in France.

3. You wish to import equipment/samples which you do not want to re-export to your home laboratory. 

You can use procedure 2, or, if you are using an express courier service (DHL, Fedex, ...), you can ask the carrier to deliver the equipment directly to the ESRF and to carry out the necessary customs clearance procedures.