What You Need to Know About Shipping Lithium Batteries by Air


New Rules and Regulations from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
You may have heard that as of January 1st, 2017, all lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries (not in a device), shipping via air are now fully regulated as dangerous goods. All standalone lithium batteries will be prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft, and shippers will now need to comply with new requirements from major carriers, such as FedEx and UPS. These changes effect the preparation and cost of shipping for many of our AbeTech clients. If you have questions about this transition, we are here to help.
Q. What kind of batteries does this apply to?
A. Shipping standalone lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries is no longer allowed on passenger aircraft, and all lithium batteries not in a device are now categorized as dangerous goods on major carriers such as FedEx and UPS. This applies to Section II lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries (UN 3090 and UN 3480).
Q. Can lithium batteries still be shipped by air?
A. Yes. Lithium batteries packed with or in equipment like cell phones or laptops (UN 3091 and 3481) may still be shipped compliantly, though are still subject to regulations. Lithium batteries may also be transported on cargo-only aircraft in compliance with more strict safety regulations.
Q. What previous regulation does this alter?
A. Shipping and logistics companies will no longer allow air shipments under reduced regulations in Section II of IATA Packing Instructions 965 (ion, UN3480) and 968 (metal, UN3090), and 49 CFR 173.185 (c). Now, all standalone lithium battery shipments will require transport as fully regulated shipments under either Section 1A or Section 1B of the ICAO/IATA Packing instructions 965 and 968.
Q. What will I need to do to ship lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries by air?
A.  You will need to enter a dangerous goods service agreement before shipping lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries without equipment by air. Shippers will also need to meet specific labeling, weight, fees, regulatory requirements from major carriers such as FedEx and UPS.
Q. Who instated these new regulations?
A. The new regulations were created by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations agency that regulates the transportation of dangerous goods aboard aircrafts.
Q. Do these new requirements apply to ground shipments?
A. No, although additional service fees may apply.
We know these changes may affect your shipping process moving forward. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly with us by submitting a contact us form or calling us directly at 888.682.3113. We look forward to assisting you!

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