Shipping of Batteries

Modified on Tue, 19 Jul 2022 at 11:18 AM

Class 9: Batteries

Lithium batteries are used as a power source for a range of products. They are split into 2 differing categories – lithium metal batteries and lithium ion batteries.

Lithium metal batteries

UN 3090, Lithium metal batteries shipped by themselves

UN 3091, Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment or packed with equipment

Lithium metal batteries are usually non rechargeable and contain metallic lithium. They are widely used to power items such as calculators, hearing aids, pacemakers and wrist-watches (basically anything where you wouldn’t expect to charge or replace the batteries that often).

Lithium ion batteries

UN 3480, Lithium ion batteries shipped by themselves

UN 3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment or packed with equipment

Lithium ion batteries are the newer technology. They do not contain metallic lithium, but retain the high energy density of lithium metal batteries but with the added benefit of being rechargeable. Although they are considered more stable and safer than lithium metal batteries, they still pose a significant risk. Lithium ion batteries are in widespread use, found in items such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Shipping batteries via mail / courier networks (SV 188 rules)

Even if you are only shipping very small volumes of lithium batteries (and likely using a courier or mail service), the regulations still apply. Most couriers have slightly different sets of additional rules and guidelines, but the following points will to cover most of the major points to consider:

  • Each individual package cannot contain more than 4 cells or 2 batteries – if contained in equipment.

  • The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries contained in one package cannot exceed 5kg.

  • The watt-hour rating must not exceed 20Wh per cell or 100Wh per battery.

  • Each cell and battery must be of a type that has been proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, section 38.3 (as also governed by ADR guidelines)

  • Cells or batteries that are defective are forbidden.

  • Cells and batteries must be protected against short-circuit (i.e. be placed in individual, non-conductive packaging)

  • The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in durable, rigid packaging that is unlikely to be damaged during transit. The items and must also be secured against movement within the outer packaging.

  • The sender’s name and return address must be made clearly visible on the outer packaging. 

  • Special Batterie labels must be put on the shipping box.

Note: These are only ADR guidelines! Each carrier has different guidelines as well, which are needed to be checked accordingly! 

SV 188 rules

  • Lithium-Ion-Cell <20 Wh and Lithium-Ion-Battery <100 Wh (UN 3480/3481).

  • Lithium-metal-cell <1g and Lithium-metal-battery <2g (UN 3090/3091).

  • UN Test Report 38.3. is required.

  • The batteries must be packed at least twice (inner and outer packaging). The inner packaging is mostly the product packaging. The outer packaging must be stable and should easily pass a drop test of 1.2 m. Ideally, this is confirmed by the manufacturer or needed type-approved hazardous goods packaging with an X or Y approval. Approval one is generally needed for >100 Wh batteries. 

  • The brutto weight of the packages must not exceed 30 kg (Packstück) - standard shipping. For each Packgut limit is at 5 kg (only for post). Moreover the energy must be within SV 188, Lithium Ion (20 wh per cell, 100 wh per battery), Lithium metal (per cell 1 g, 2 g per battery), see first points. 

  • Special rule applies, if single orders contain only 2 batteries or 4 cells. UN Label is not mandatory. 

  • Several shipping items can be packed on one pallet or overpack. Then, it's necessary to bring to the word “Umverpackung/Over pack”(at least 12 mm) and with identification that must be repeated in representative form. Byrd must be informed to coordinate it. 

  • Labelling each box: 

  • Required UN Number and tel number

UN Test Report 38.3

Since batteries and accumulators from untrustworthy sources are still being brought into circulation, the dangerous goods law was changed at the beginning of 2020 (01.01.2020). Thus, manufacturers and distributors of Li-ion batteries and rechargeable batteries have been since 01.01. 2020 obliged to provide every person in the supply chain with a detailed test summary of the UN 38.3 test. 

UN Test Report must have included:

A: Information about manufacturer

  • Name of cell/battery/product manufacturer

  • Address, Tel., Email, website of manufacturer

  • Title of signer

  • Signature of the one

B: Information of test laboratory

  • Name of test laboratory

  • Address, Tel., Email, website of test laboratory

  • Title of signer

  • Signature of the one

C: Test Report

  • Date of Test Report

  • ID of Test Report

  • Test items are all included (T1-T8)

  • 38.3 is mentioned in the Test Rep

D: Battery description

  • Type of battery

  • Dimensions

  • physical description (e.g. battery for smartphones)

  • Model number / type

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