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Shipping Lithium-Ion Batteries Internationally - Standards and Methods

Shipping Lithium-Ion Batteries Internationally - Standards and Methods

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It is almost a guarantee that every cordless device out there is using a lithium-ion battery. While they make everyday life convenient, Li-ion batteries can be a headache to ship. That is especially true if you want to send them abroad.
 
The reason for that is because they are liable to catching fire or exploding. The International Association of Air Travel (IATA) and the UN classify them as dangerous goods.
 
That being said, you can still ship li-ion batteries internationally quite easily. Here is a simple guide of the standards and regulations you need to consider to do so successfully.
 
1.What Are the USPS Mailing Standards for LI-ion Batteries
 
International mailing standards for lithium-ion batteries are very strict. That is because it is not only an issue of safety but of security too.
 

For that reason, the United States Postal Service has a set of standards in compliance with international UN and IATA rules.

Some of the rules which regulate the shipping and importing of such devices include the following.

  • The battery must be installed on the device.  You cannot ship separate batteries even if they're extras. In such a case, they would be designated as power banks.

  • They must not exceed set limits. In the case of normal freight shipping, no cell should exceed 20Wh and no battery should exceed 100Wh. Those with higher capacities would need special hazmat packaging, labeling, and shipping by vehicle, vessel, or rail where possible.

  • The batteries eligible include UN designations 3481 and 3491.

  • The device must be packaged in such a way as to prevent accidental damage while being handled.

There is a big difference between being eligible and being compliant, though. While it is possible to send or import such devices, there are lots of things that you need to get right so that your package can arrive safely. Therefore, we will also give you a step-by-step guide on how to ship Li-Ion batteries overseas.

For lithium-ion/rechargeable batteries:

  • The batteries must be installed in the device they are meant to power. You cannot ship separate lithium-ion batteries separately under any conditions.

  • The device must be turned off and protected from turning itself on accidentally. Most accidents from li-ion batteries take place when they overheat or overcharge.

  • The device must be securely packed to prevent damage in the normal course of handling.

  • The watt-hour (Wh) of each battery should not exceed 100Wh, or 20Wh for each cell in the battery. These values are supposed to be clearly marked on the battery packaging.

  • The external cover on the parcel should not have any markings to indicate that the package contains lithium-ion batteries.

Very small cells and batteries can be mailed internationally under these regulations:

  • If the cell is properly installed in the equipment, it can have up to 4 lithium cells and 2 batteries. This includes those installed in circuit boards.

  • Every cell or battery installed must not have a power rating of greater than 2.7Wh.

  • There should be no markings on the external package cover to indicate the presence of the lithium-ion cells or batteries.

In short, while you can mail lithium-ion batteries, they must be installed in the devices that they are meant to operate. If you want to ship a laptop, mobile phone, power tool, or other such devices, it is easy to do that so long as you follow the relevant regulations.

2.Can You Ship and Import Devices Containing LI-ion Batteries

Yes, you can import devices containing lithium-ion batteries. International regulations from bodies such as the UN and the IATA allow shipment of such devices, but only if they meet some requirements.

In today's world where e-commerce businesses require safe and reliable shipping services, it is important to ship and import electronic devices with Li-Ion batteries safely, effectively, and affordably.

Some of the rules which regulate the shipping and importing of such devices include the following.

  • The battery must be installed on the device.  You cannot ship separate batteries even if they're extras. In such a case, they would be designated as power banks.

  • They must not exceed set limits. In the case of normal freight shipping, no cell should exceed 20Wh and no battery should exceed 100Wh. Those with higher capacities would need special hazmat packaging, labeling, and shipping by vehicle, vessel, or rail where possible.

  • The batteries eligible include UN designations 3481 and 3491.

  • The device must be packaged in such a way as to prevent accidental damage while being handled.

There is a big difference between being eligible and being compliant, though. While it is possible to send or import such devices, there are lots of things that you need to get right so that your package can arrive safely. Therefore, we will also give you a step-by-step guide on how to ship Li-Ion batteries overseas.

3.How Do You Ship li-ion batteries Overseas by Air and Sea Freight
 
When you want to order a device or machine online that has a li-ion battery or want to send one overseas, it is your responsibility in both cases to ensure compliance. Many people wrongly assume that the supplier/seller is responsible for the safety.
 
While in a way the manufacturer or seller is also responsible, you need to make sure that all safety standards and tests are met. One of the best ways to do this is to buy such goods from genuine manufacturers.
 

Shipping Power Tools by Sea

  • You can ship any number of power tools with batteries, so long as they are contained in a hard plastic container and protected from accidental short circuits. You can also have a spare battery in this case, so long as they are also inside the box.

  • Do not ship damaged, defective, or recalled batteries by sea freight.

  • There is no limit as to the battery capacity you can ship.

Shipping by Air Freight

  • You can ship power tools in their respective hard case containers. Spare batteries are allowed too if they are in the same container. However, you can ship no more than two batteries in the same package.

  • No batteries can exceed 100Wh, and no cell can exceed 20Wh. This also applies to power tools.

  • Do not ship any defective, damaged, or recalled batteries by air.

  • All secondary charging devices such as power banks cannot be sent by cargo or checked baggage. They must be accompanied, and can only travel in carry-on luggage. Even then, there are rules about those too depending on the airline operator.

When packing lithium-ion batteries for international shipping:

  • Keep batteries in their equipment as much as possible. Make sure that the equipment is turned off and protected against turning on accidentally. It is also recommended that the batteries be not charged more than 30% of their rated capacity.

  • Separate all batteries or cells where possible, using plastic casing. This reduces the risk of short-circuiting.

  • The equipment and batteries must be contained in a hard shell plastic casing.

  • Ensure all exposed terminals are covered with non-conductive tape or caps.

  • Make sure the equipment or batteries will not move around or be crushed during normal handling.

Conclusion

Shipping equipment with batteries requires a high level of care to maintain safety. There have been many cases of lives lost due to fire in airplane cabins, as well as explosions.

These regulations are meant to maintain the highest possible level of safety and keep evolving to reflect modern changes. For better help, contact your nearest shipping agent to get expert help.

 

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