How to Ship Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries, which are used in most small electronic devices such as digital cameras, digital camcorders and cell phones, are considered hazardous materials because they have the potential of producing a dangerous evolution of heat, fire or short circuit.  Whether you are shipping them on their own or inside a device, these batteries must meet standard packaging and labeling requirements.

These requirements regarding handling and packaging of batteries and other hazardous materials are handed down by the federal government through the Department of Aviation and by various aviation agencies and are consistent with all mailing/shipping services.

How to Ship Lithium Batteries Outside of a Device

Take note of the lithium content for each battery and the content of lithium per cell within the battery, and record the information for consultation after packaging.

Verify your shipment container is an approved mailer. The container must have a gross weight of less than 30 kg and must pass a 1.2-meter drop test in any direction. Boxes ordered from a packaging store will specify this information on the box or have the information available upon inquiry.

Package your lithium batteries securely. Ensure the batteries cannot shift within their mailer and that there is an adequate amount of protection on all sides to prevent the batteries from being damaged by an impact.

Label your mailer with a distinct return address and destination address. Lithium batteries cannot be sent without a return address.

Consult the lithium content information recorded previously. Batteries with over 2 g of lithium content per battery or over 1 g of lithium content per cell must be distinctively labeled against a contrasting background with capitalized words at least 6 mm tall stating “PRIMARY LITHIUM BATTERIES –FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” or “LITHIUM METAL BATTERIES – FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT.” These batteries must also feature an additional label that states “Cargo Aircraft Only.”

Label packages containing batteries with no more than 2 g of lithium content per battery and 1 g or less of lithium content per cell with the “PRIMARY LITHIUM BATTERIES –FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” or “LITHIUM METAL BATTERIES – FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” label only. Ensure the text is entirely capitalized, against a contrasting background, and at least 6 mm tall. If shipping through the USPS, add an additional label stating “Surface Mail Only, Primary Lithium Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft.”

How to Ship Lithium Batteries Packed With or Inside a Device

Determine the amount of lithium per cell and battery inside your electronic device.  This information are usually included in the instruction manual or the casing of the lithium battery for your device. To be shipped within the device, each cell must contain no more than 1.5 g of lithium content. A maximum of three batteries is eligible for shipment with a device.

Secure the lithium battery if it is a secondary battery being shipped with an electronic device but not contained within the actual device. Make sure the battery cannot shift, short circuit or be damaged by the other contents of the package.

Verify that lithium batteries installed within the actual electronic device are secured from damage and short-circuiting while in transit. The device must also have a method of ensuring the batteries are not inadvertently activated during shipment.

Secure the entire mailing unit and clearly label the package or mailer with a return address and a destination address.

Mark the package with the following message in a 6 mm or larger size in all capital letters against a contrasting background “PACKAGE CONTAINS LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES (NO LITHIUM METAL)”.


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