Transporting & Shipping Lithium Batteries by Air, Sea, Road & Rail
When it comes to shipping lithium batteries, it’s important to follow regulations and safety guidelines to ensure the safe and efficient transport of these hazardous materials.
The regulations surrounding shipping lithium batteries can vary from country to country, making it a complex issue for both individuals and businesses.
For you US folks, are you really aware of the main regulations and safety guidelines for shipping lithium batteries?
Let’s take a look…
Governing bodies for lithium battery shipping regulations
The transport of lithium batteries is regulated by international and national organizations to ensure safety.
These governing bodies set standards for proper packaging, labeling, handling during transport and lithium battery recycling, working to minimize the risk of fire and other hazards during transportation and general handling.
However, there are slight nuances depending on whether you’re shipping lithium ion batteries within the US or internationally.
Shipping lithium batteries by road, rail, air and sea within the US
In the United States, the responsibility for the regulation of lithium ion battery shipping is divided among several government agencies:
- Department of Transportation (DOT): The DOT is responsible for regulating the transport of hazardous materials, including lithium batteries, in the US. Within the DOT, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the primary agency responsible for enforcing the regulations of lithium battery shipping.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA is responsible for regulating the shipment of waste batteries, including lithium batteries.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): The CPSC is responsible for regulating the safety of consumer products, including lithium batteries.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA is responsible for regulating the safe handling and disposal of lithium batteries in the workplace.
All shippers of lithium batteries in the US must comply with the regulations set forth by these agencies to ensure the safe and secure transport of these hazardous materials.
Shipping lithium batteries internationally
In contrast to shipping a lithium ion battery within the US, the regulations to ship lithium batteries overseas from the US are governed by several international organizations:
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): This organization sets the standards for the air transport of dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, through its Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.
- International Maritime Organization (IMO): The IMO sets the standards for the maritime transport of dangerous goods, including shipping lithium batteries by sea. This is done through its International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).
- European Union (EU): The EU has implemented separate regulations on the transport of dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, through the Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008.
- United Nations (UN): The UN provides recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, through its Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNRTDG).
These organizations work together to ensure the safe and efficient transport of lithium batteries worldwide. It’s important to note that the regulations may vary from country to country and should be regularly checked for updates.
But, no matter if you’re shipping within the US or internationally, our UN bags are an ideal solution for the transport of lithium ion batteries.
They’re rigorously tested, examined, and designed for the handling of hazardous materials (including lithium ion batteries) for Packaging Groups II and III Materials in Chapter 9 of the United Nations “Orange Book”.
How to ship lithium batteries internationally
Here’s a step-by-step process for shipping lithium ion batteries internationally:
1. Determine the type of lithium battery being shipped
There’s a specific UN number for lithium ion batteries based on their packaging and state of charge, including:
- UN3480: lithium ion batteries
- UN3481: lithium ion batteries contained in equipment
- UN3090: lithium metal batteries
- UN3091: lithium metal batteries contained in equipment
2. Obtain the necessary approvals
Lithium batteries are subject to specific regulations and approvals based on the mode of transport being used, such as air, sea, or road.
For example, for air transport, the batteries must be approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
3. Pass relevant tests
Lithium batteries must meet certain performance standards, such as those set by the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria, to be eligible for transportation.
4. Pack and label the batteries correctly
The batteries must be packaged in a way that protects against damage and meets packaging limits.
The inner and outer packaging must be labeled with:
- The proper shipping name,
- UN number, and
- “Dangerous goods” label
5. Protect terminals against short circuits
The terminals of the lithium batteries must be protected against short circuits using an insulating material that prevents electrical contact, such as electrical tape.
6. Train employees and follow safe handling practices
All employees involved in the handling and transport of lithium batteries must be trained in safe handling practices and aware of the potential dangers associated with these hazardous materials.
7. Follow proper documentation procedures
Proper documentation, such as the Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD), must be completed and provided to the carrier for all shipments of lithium batteries.
It’s crucial to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations and to ensure that all relevant regulations are followed to ensure the safe and secure transport of lithium batteries.
Note that the shipper is responsible for ensuring that all regulations are followed.
Need help with packaging for lithium battery transportation?
When it comes to transporting lithium batteries, safety is of the utmost importance.
We understand this, which is why we offer UN-certified FIBC bags for your lithium battery transport needs.
Our bags are manufactured to meet strict international standards for the shipment of hazardous materials, giving you peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your lithium batteries during transportation.
They provide a secure and reliable solution, so you can focus on your business while we take care of the rest.
Key takeaways on lithium ion battery shipping
In summary, regulatory control for shipping lithium ion cells and batteries within the US are divided among several government agencies.
In contrast, international shipping for lithium cells and batteries is governed by organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.
Shipping lithium batteries internationally involves several steps, such as obtaining necessary approvals and passing relevant tests.
But ultimately, the shipper is responsible for ensuring compliance with all regulations.
Is a lithium ion battery hazmat?
Yes, a lithium ion battery is considered a hazardous material due to the potential for thermal runaway, which can cause a fire. Lithium ion batteries require special handling and transportation precautions to minimize the risk of fire and ensure the safety of people and property during transportation.
Lithium batteries belong to which hazard class?
Lithium batteries are classified as a Class 9 hazardous material by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This classification acknowledges the potential fire hazard posed by the batteries during transportation.
Can lithium batteries be shipped by air in bulk?
Yes, lithium batteries can be shipped by air in bulk, but there are regulations in place for the safe transportation of these batteries. The ICAO and IATA have established standards for the shipment of lithium batteries by air, which must be followed by airlines and shippers.
Do you need hazmat to haul batteries?
The requirement for a hazmat endorsement on a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to haul batteries depends on the type of batteries and the regulations where the transportation takes place. In general, if the batteries being transported are classified as hazardous materials, then a CDL with a hazmat endorsement may be required.
This is typically the case for large quantities of lithium ion batteries.
However, small quantities of dry cell batteries, such as those used in household items, are not considered hazardous materials and do not require a CDL with a hazmat endorsement to transport.