Shipping Lithium Batteries

Lithium Batteries

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is the United Nations agency that regulates the transportation of dangerous goods aboard an aircraft. They have deemed lithium batteries, and standalone lithium batteries as cargo are prohibited on passenger aircraft (UN 3480). It is important to classify batteries correctly because they may pose hazards during transport. These hazards include:

  • Short circuits, which can lead to fires
  • Leaks of corrosive liquid or other material that can injure people or harm the environment

Who is responsible for classifying batteries?

The consignor is responsible for classifying dangerous goods (batteries in this case) in accordance with Part 2 of the TDG Regulations. Batteries are typically classified as Class 8 or Class 9 Corrosives, Miscellaneous Products, Substances or Organisms; though some may be considered Class 4.3- Water Reactive Substances.

Are lithium batteries considered dangerous goods?

Yes. In Canada, the shipping and importing of lithium batteries are subject to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 (TDG Act) and its regulations. They are considered dangerous goods, much like gasoline, propane and sulfuric acid.

Where are lithium batteries found?

Lithium batteries are used in a wide range of electronic devices such as:

  • Laptops
  • Cameras
  • Mobile phones
  • Video cameras
  • Watches
  • Medical equipment
  • Power tools
  • Bluetooth items
  • Speakers

Can you still ship lithium batteries by air?

Yes. Batteries packed with or in equipment (UN 3091 and 3481) may still be shipped when done in compliance with the regulations. All lithium batteries may still be transported on cargo-only aircraft as subjected to regulations. It is important to be aware that there are variations in the regulation with respect to different airlines and aircraft. 

Regulations:

  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has mandated that standalone lithium-ion batteries can only be shipped by air with a state of charge of  30% or less (UN 3480). In addition, shippers will not be authorized to transport more than one package of standalone lithium-ion batteries. 
  • No more than one Section II lithium battery package may be placed into an overpack. 
  • Section II packages may not be offered in a unit load device and must be provided separately from other non-dangerous cargo.
  • If you want to ship lithium-ion batteries by air that are not packed with equipment, you’ll have to:
  • Ship them by cargo aircraft only if the airline has not filed a variation or implemented an embargo
  • Ensure they are at a state of charge no more than 30% of capacity
  • Pack them separately from everything else

FedEx and Lithium Batteries

FedEx Express has changed its policy regarding the way shipments of standalone lithium batteries are prepared and packaged. Under these rules, standalone shipments of lithium-ion (UN3480) and lithium metal (UN3090)Section II shipments of lithium batteries are not fully regulated, which means they do not need Class 9 labels, UN packaging or a Shipper’s Declarations, and there was no dangerous goods surcharge. The lithium battery regulations are constantly subjected to change. We are here to help you stay compliant. Dangerous Goods Packaging Services has the packaging and freight expertise to meet all the required regulations.

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