How to Ship Battery Products in 2024 

How to ship battery products internationally?

The intricacy of how to ship batteries can present significant challenges for businesses. This presents various struggles that businesses face when delving into shipping batteries. 

Staying informed about regulation changes. Regulatory bodies like the IATA and IMDG regularly update their guidelines. 

Failure to comply with the latest regulations can result in shipment delays, fines, or even the complete rejection of your lithium battery shipping

How to Ship Battery Products

What Products Have Lithium Batteries?

Lithium batteries are commonly found in a wide range of consumer electronics and industrial equipment, including: 

  • Laptops and tablets 
  • Smartphones and mobile devices 
  • Cameras and drones 
  • Power tools 
  • Medical devices 
  • Toys 
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)

Why are Batteries Considered “Dangerous Goods”?

Batteries, particularly lithium batteries, contain hazardous materials that can pose a safety risk during transportation. 

These electrolytes are typically Lithium salts in a nonaqueous solvent. 

If a lithium battery is damaged, crushed, or exposed to extreme temperatures, it can overheat, ignite, or even explode. 

The resulting fire can be intense and difficult to extinguish due to the presence of the lithium metal. 

Additionally, a damaged or compromised lithium battery can leak hazardous materials, posing a potential inhalation or environmental hazard. 

The Difference Between Lithium-metal and Lithium-ion Batteries

There are two main types of lithium batteries: 

Lithium-metal Batteries

Lithium-metal batteries were the first commercially available lithium battery technology. 

They offer a higher energy density compared to lithium-ion batteries, meaning they can store more energy in a smaller size. 

This makes them ideal for applications where size and weight are critical, such as pacemakers and some military devices. 

However, lithium-metal batteries also come with significant safety risks. They are more prone to overheating and short circuiting, which can lead to fires or explosions due to the presence of lithium metal in their electrodes. 

For this reason, lithium-metal batteries are subject to stricter regulations for transportation and their use in consumer electronics has largely been discontinued. 

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of rechargeable battery today. They offer a good balance of energy density, safety, and lifespan. 

Unlike lithium-metal batteries, lithium-ion batteries use lithium ions that move between the anode and cathode during charge and discharge cycles. 

This design makes them less susceptible to overheating and short circuiting, improving their safety profile. 

Lithium-ion batteries are now the dominant technology for portable electronics due to their combination of performance and safety. 

How to Ship Lithium Batteries 

Shipping Lithium batteries requires following specific regulations depending on the type, quantity, and watt-hour rating of the batteries. 

  1. Classify the Battery: Identify the type of lithium battery (metal or ion) and its watt-hour rating. 
  2. Package the Battery: Use strong, UN-approved packaging that meets the specified performance standards for protecting the battery during transport. 
  3. Label the Package: Affix the appropriate lithium battery shipping label based on the UN number and other required information. 
  4. Complete Documentation: Prepare the necessary shipping documents, including a dangerous goods declaration that details the battery type, quantity, and other relevant information. 

How to Ship Products with Lithium Batteries Inside

The regulations for shipping a product containing lithium batteries can be less stringent than those for shipping standalone lithium batteries. 

This is because the battery is contained within the device and is less likely to be damaged during transport. However, the level of battery packaging and lithium battery shipping labeling required will still depend  on the watt-hour (Wh) rating of the battery. 

Watt-hour (Wh) is a unit of energy that represents the battery;s capacity to deliver power. You can typically find the Wh rating printed on the battery itself or in the device’s user manual. 

Under 100 Wh

These batteries are typically considered low-risk and may only require minimal packaging and labeling. However, always check with your carrier for their specific policies, as some may have stricter requirements. 

100-100 Wh

For batteries in this range, the regulations become more complex. You may need to use UN-approved packaging and affix special lithium metal battery shipping labels. 

Additionally, some carriers may require a dangerous goods declaration. Again, consult with your carrier for their specific requirements.  

Over 1000 Wh

Shipping batteries with a Wh rating over 1000 is typically prohibited on passenger aircraft. 

For cargo aircraft shipments, extensive packaging, labeling, and documentation are mandatory. 

In most cases, it’s recommended to consult with a dangerous goods specialist for assistance with shipping high Wh-rated batteries. 

How to Pack Batteries for Shipping

Always prioritize manufacturer’s packaging recommendations if available. They might have specific instructions for their batteries. 

Select a sturdy cardboard box with dimensions slightly larger than the batteries themselves. This allows for the addition of cushioning material without creating excessive space. 

Prevent contact between batteries (especially loose ones) by wrapping them individually with non-conductive materials like plastic bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or shredded paper. 

Once insulated, use additional cushioning material to fill any voids in the box and prevent the batteries from shifting during transport. This minimizes the risk of damage and potential short circuits. 

Use strong packing tape to ensure the box remains closed throughout transit. 

How to Pack Alkaline Batteries 

For loose alkaline batteries, individual insulation with non-conductive material is crucial. 

For original packaging, you can typically place the sealed package directly in the outer box with sufficient cushioning. 

How to Pack Lithium-ion Batteries 

Use UN-approved packaging specifically designed for shipping dangerous goods. These containers have undergone rigorous testing and meet specific performance standards for withstanding impact and preventing leaks. 

Insulate exposed battery terminals with non-conductive tape (e.g., electrical or packing tape) to prevent short circuits. 

Regulations for lithium-ion battery shipping become stricter with increasing quantities. For large shipments, additional measures like inner liners and absorbent materials may be required. 

Always consult the specific regulations for your situation. 

Battery Shipping Regulations

Battery shipping regulations are important in which there are two primary sets:

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

To better understand how to ship lithium batteries internationally you need to ensure the utmost safety during air travel forms. 

A systematic approach is employed to categorize various battery types based on factors such as chemical composition, capacity, and inherent hazards. Each classification is assigned a unique UN number, which plays a critical role in labeling and documentation. 

Stringent guidelines dictate the type, construction, and performance standards for packaging materials used to transport batteries. This makes sure the packaging’s ability to withstand potential hazards encountered during air travel, including extreme pressure fluctuations and impacts. 

Specific labels are mandated for battery shipments by air. These labels serve to communicate crucial information, including the UN number, hazard class, and any special handling instructions that may be necessary. 

The IATA DGR prescribes the documentation required to accompany battery shipments. Typically, this includes a shipper’s declaration that details the type and quantity of batteries being transported, along with any additional safety data. 

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG)

The IMDG Code governs the ocean transport of lithium batteries, applying to both standalone batteries and those integrated within equipment. 

Similar to the IATA DGR, the IMDG Code prioritizes safety during maritime transport. 

A classification system to the IATA DGR is employed, with UN numbers assigned for identification purposes. 

Specific packaging standards are established for maritime transport, taking into account potential factors like corrosion from saltwater exposure. 

Prescribed labels are mandated for shipping lithium batteries by sea. While these labels may differ slightly from those used for air shipments, they will still communicate essential information. 

The IMDG Code details the documents required to accompany battery shipments by Sea. 

These documents share similarities with those required for air shipments but may have specific variations relevant to maritime transport. 

FAQs About Shipping Batteries

Can You Ship Batteries 

Yes, you can ship batteries, but you must comply with the relevant regulations for packaging, labeling, and documentation. 

Does it Cost More to Ship Lithium Batteries? 

Shipping lithium batteries may incur additional fees due to the classification as dangerous goods. Contact your chosen carrier for specific pricing information. 

What Kind of Batteries Cannot be Shipped? 

Some types of batteries, such as damaged or recalled batteries, may be prohibited from shipping. Always check with your carrier for any restrictions. 

Make sure to also checkout Incoterms 101: A Guide to International Shipping