When proposing in 1991 to restrict the "Instructions in writing" (Marginal 10 385 ADR) to the driver, the UN/ECE WP 15 on the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road recognised that emergency services might be left in the cold as many of them actually made use of these instructions.

With financial support of the European Commission (DG VII), an international team of experienced chemists and fire officers from 7 different European countries started to develop ERICards in 1993.

The cards were developed by grouping all substances according to their ADR Hazard Identification Number (HIN), which provides product hazard information, and the UK Hazchem Emergency Action Code (EAC), which indicates first strike actions. Consequently substances with the same HIN-EAC combination (e.g. 33-2YE) have been allocated to the same ERICard. This combined information was further completed with expert input from the team members.

ERICards were first issued (in English) in November 1995. Meanwhile they have been revised and updated in January 1998 and May 1999.

In 2003 the ERICards have been aligned to the 2003 edition of the restructured ADR (still limited to those substances with a HIN) and to the UK Hazchem List No. 10 (1999) for Emergency Action Codes. Since then there are now also cards for all substances of ADR Class 1 (Explosive substances and articles) and of ADR Class 7 (Radioactive material). This revision and extension of the ERICards was realised with the financial support (Nr SUB-B27020B-E3-ERICARDS-2002-S07.14176) of the European Commission - Directorate General for Energy and Transport.

Since then, ERICards have been kept aligned with ADR and EAC, following their biennial update cycle.

The current version of ERICards has been aligned to ADR 2021 and to the UK EAC List 2021

The number of ERICards split by ADR class is as follows:

ADR Class Number of ERICards ERIC Reference Number of UN numbers
1 6 1-xx 373
2 46 2-xx 179
3 37 3-xx 486
4.1-4.2-4.3 27 4-xx 164
5.1-5.2 24 5-xx 129
6.1-6.2 49 6-xx 614
7 4 7-xx 25
8 43 8-xx 307
9 7 9-xx 15
Total 243 2291

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