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What You Need to Know about Shipping Lithium Batteries
November 21, 2022

Lithium batteries are common in many electronic devices, including cell phones, portable vacuums, laptops, and cameras. They are also used in electric cars. Now, to complicate matters. Batteries packed with equipment they are meant to power and batteries contained in equipment also have their own unique UN identifications and require a completely different set of standards too detailed to cover in this article.

While lithium batteries are safe and reliable when used properly, there are certain dangers associated with them that need to be considered when shipping them.

Shipping lithium batteries is a complex process. They are a high risk article and shipping them should not be attempted without a thorough knowledge of what the regulatory requirements are. CARGOpak Corp., is a hazmat training and consulting company with 30+ years of experience that specializes in offering customized solutions to shippers of hazardous materials. The purpose of this blog is to help you understand the risks associated with shipping lithium batteries as well as some of the regulatory requirements for shipping lithium batteries.

Dangers of Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries can pose a fire hazard if they are damaged or not used properly, thus, requirements for shipping lithium batteries are rigid. Both formats of Lithium batteries, shipped by themselves, are forbidden on board passenger carrying aircraft.

When a lithium battery is damaged, it can cause a short circuit that can then cause the battery to overheat and rapidly catch fire with temperatures reaching 700 degrees Celsius. This action is called "thermal runaway". This is why it is important to ensure that lithium batteries are properly packaged when shipping them.

In addition to the danger of fire, lithium ion batteries can also pose other health hazards. A ruptured lithium ion battery can result in the release of the electrolyte with possible exposure to toxic, corrosive or flammable chemicals.

Proper Packaging of Lithium Batteries

As mentioned, shipping lithium batteries can be especially dangerous because of the serious risks they pose. In addition, there have been cases of lithium battery explosions causing severe injuries and even death. For these reasons, it is essential to follow all regulatory protocols when shipping lithium batteries.

Because of the dangers associated with lithium batteries, it is critical to ensure that they are properly packaged when shipped. Fully regulated Lithium batteries should be shipped in UN approved performance tested packaging. Smaller, excepted, Lithium batteries can be shipped in a strong box capable of passing a 1.2M drop test and a 24 hour stacking test. These tests are not required for Batteries contained in their equipment, but the packaging selected must be packed in strong rigid outer packaging constructed of suitable material of adequate strength and design in relation to the packaging's capacity and its intended use.

All Lithium batteries should be clearly marked and labeled according to the specifics of each particular mode of transport regulations.

Complying with Regulations

Before any battery or cell is shipped, it must meet the requirements of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, subsection 38.3. This involves 8 separated tests. Once a battery passes these tests a Test summary report must be made available on request.

Domestically in the USA, depending on their form, Lithium batteries must be shipped in compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) according to section 173.185 of the HazMat Regulations ( HMR). If shipped by air, the appropriate packing instructions of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) DG regulation would apply. These regulations are very stringent and require that the battery be properly packaged and labeled. For air transport, the shipper must also declare the consignment in a very specific way on a shipper's DG Declaration. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in serious fines and penalties.

Reach out to CARGOpak for reliable shipping of hazardous goods

Whether you’re shipping lithium batteries or other hazardous materials, CARGOpak has the skill and expertise to help you comply with all hazmat regulations and ensure your goods reach their destination safely.

If you are planning on shipping lithium batteries, it is important to ensure that they are properly packaged in order to avoid any accidents. At CARGOpak, we have extensive experience shipping lithium batteries and other hazardous materials. We offer customized solutions to ensure that your shipment is compliant with all applicable regulations.

We can help you with any hazmat compliance issue, to learn more about our services, or request a quote, contact us today at or call our office: (919) 217-7636.

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