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What to Know About How to Ship Lithium Batteries Internationally

As class 9 dangerous materials, lithium battery international shipping must comply with essential laws and regulations. In this guide, we will help you to know how to ship lithium batteries in security.

What are the basic types of lithium batteries?

Shipping lithium batteries internationally is prevalent as the battery has lightweight and versatile features. It is widely used in solar energy storage solutions, electric tools, electric vehicles, and other fields. Such as mobile phones, iPad, power banks, cameras, e-bikes, etc.

Before getting how to ship lithium batteries internationally, you should learn about the prime class of batteries. In International Air Transport Association (IATA), it can be assorted into two types:

1. Lithium metal battery: it is a disposable (non-rechargeable) battery primarily used in watches, calculators, etc.

2. Lithium-ion battery: it refers to a spare (rechargeable) battery, generally used inlaptops, ordinary electronic devices, etc.

According to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods(IMDG) CODE, lithium batteries are divided into 4 UN numbers corresponding to a specific type of lithium battery. You can check as below:

UN NumberPoper Shipping Nmae
UN3480lithium ion batteries
UN3481lithium ion batteries contained in (packed with) equipment
UN3090lithium metal batteries
UN3091lithium metal batteries contained in (packed with) equipment
pile of batteries with yellow cover

When you start lithium battery international shipping, you should label the package with a UN number. It aims to identify hazardous materials and goods during international trade transportation.

Lithium batteries have great significance for facilitating the green energy transition and achieving carbon neutrality. But along with these benefits come some potential shipping risks. You have likely heard a horror story about battery shipping fires more than once.

According to the FAA, there have been 55 aviation-related lithium batteries(carried as cargo or baggage) incidents involving smoke or fire in 2022. For example, overcharging, external short circuits, and violent impact may cause lithium batteries to spontaneous combustion. It is why critical to obey the relevant regulations when transporting lithium batteries.

Keep reading to understand how to make lithium batteries international shipping safe and legal.

What are the requests for shipping lithium batteries?

Because of the dangers of lithium batteries, you should become familiar with the basic requirements for battery shipping. Some of these include:

1. Any lithium battery must pass the UN38.3 test before shipping internationally. If the lithium battery does not contain in the device, and each package involves more than 24 battery cells or 12 batteries, it must also fit a 1.2-meter crash test from any direction.

2. When you ship lithium batteries, it is crucial to declare them as hazardous goods and provide an accurate statement that the package contains batteries and should be handled with care.

3. Lithium battery international shipping requires the package to meet the transportation requirements.

4. The packing of lithium batteries also needs to be fully strengthened. Such as using airbags to reinforce the gaps to prevent extrusion and collision, etc.

5. When shipping lithium batteries, all batteries have protection against short circuits.

6. Defective and damaged batteries are not permitted for the shipment because it increases the risk of fire or hazardous material leakage.

If you want to know the comprehensive requirements, please do not hesitate to contact Airsupply!

Lithium batteries, statutory inspection products, and their custom declarations require commodity inspection. You not only should prepare the essential documentation to prove the safety performance of battery shipping but also strictly under the national regulations for lithium battery international shipping.

In the process of customs clearance, the inspection agency will sample and check whether the cargo meets the standards of quality, specification, and packaging. If it has a problem (such as a battery shipping label is not correctly attached), then all the goods will be detained and rectified which will cost extra fees. So you should guarantee the battery is under proper handle during shipping lithium batteries.

Below we have collected the foremost information you should notice about the package, label, and documentation on matter shipping lithium batteries by air and sea freight.

How to pack lithium batteries safely?

Apart from strictly adhering to the requirement of shipping lithium batteries internationally, you still need to pay attention to whether the lithium battery has exceeded the rated watt-hour(100Wh) or the lithium metal content for the entire battery or cell quantity in a single pack. These factors will decide how the battery goods are packaged and labeled to stay within compliance.

When packaging the lithium battery for international shipping, it should be placed in a rugged and crash-resistant case and fastened so that it would not move to cause damage. What’s more, you can use fiberboard or plastic as the inner package to prevent shifting during transport or loosening of protective coverings.

Except for the inner package, you also should use outer packaging to get further protection from damage during lithium battery international shipping. The battery needs to be packed in the standard outer package stipulated in the IATA DGR. If shipping the lithium battery by sea freight, the outer packaging should be waterproof or use an inner lining (such as a plastic bag) to achieve the same effect.

Furthermore, you should pay attention to whether when the lithium battery shipped with other dangerous goods in the same overpack will create an incompatibility. Such as flammable liquids or conductive substances may cause short circuits.

How to mark and label a lithium battery package?

To ensure the lithium battery can arrive at the destination intact, you need unmistakably mark and label the package. Because it can make the carrier know what is included in the parcel, what should be careful during transportation, how to handle if there any problems, etc. 

In addition to marking with the proper shipping name and fully displaying the UN number on the package as applicable, attaching class 9 dangerous goods labels are indispensable. When shipping lithium batteries by air, the packaging also should affix the Cargo Aircraft Only operation label according to the situation. You can check the shipping label below:     

battery packing labels

If you have any doubts about the lithium battery label as the size or other details, you can consult Airsupply which has rich experience in shipping lithium batteries.

What documentation needs to ship lithium batteries?

For lithium battery customs declaration, in addition to the commercial invoice , bill of lading, etc. There are several different documents related to shipping lithium batteries internationally that you should prepare.

When shipping lithium batteries by air freight, there requires some essential documentation as:

  • Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
  • 3 certificate
  • Air waybill 
  • Identification report for air transport of goods
  • Dangerous package certificate

Shipping lithium batteries by sea shall be declared to the customs and the maritime safety administration. It generally requests certification paperwork as below:

  • MSDS
  • 3 certificate
  • HS code 
  • Dangerous package certificate
  • Report for Safe Transport of Goods

Besides, you should fill in the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods(DGD) truthfully. If the labels of the goods are missing or illegible, the ground crew can replace them according to the information provided in the shipper declaration.

If you are unsure whether the lithium batteries you want to ship are dangerous goods, you can contact the supplier or manufacturer of the product to obtain an MSDS. It records the physical and chemical properties of the material. Then check with a professional freight forwarder (like Airsupply) or carrier to seek their advice and ask them to make special arrangements if necessary.

How ASL helps you ship lithium batteries overseas safely?

Airsupply Logistics is the best option if your target is to find a reputable freight forwarder company to support you in shipping dangerous goods like lithium batteries. ASL always follows the latest transport regulations on the classification packaging, labeling, and documentation of hazardous goods. It regularly processes +50 DG Cargo (categories 2/3/4/5/6/8/9) per week under the supervision of its certified staff.

In Airsupply lithium battery international shipping plan, shippers have access to safe DG goods freight and seamless customs clearance within global shipping. Moreover, Airsupply will guide you on what document you should prepare and how to do it. It aims to offer comprehensive services to help you ship lithium batteries hassle-free. If you have any questions about shipping your lithium battery or other items, feel free to contact the ASL team who will be happy to help.

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