Shipping Alkaline Batteries Internationally
Shipping batteries internationally is a complicated process and must be done in compliance with the Dangerous Goods regulations. Lithium cells and batteries (including alkaline) generate gases which can be fire hazards in-flight, so it is essential to leverage suitable packaging for transport and ensure correct shipping labels are attached.
However, shipping day-to-day AA or AAA alkaline batteries is not regulated if they are contained within a working electrical device. This article will cover the basics of preparing and packing these for international shipment.
Many electrical devices that people use to work, play and study often have batteries inside them. These batteries are commonly known as AA, AAA or lithium-ion. These batteries are considered hazardous and require special shipping rules when sent internationally because of their flammability. It is also a requirement to provide specific documentation when sending these batteries.
When shipping these batteries overseas, they must be packaged in a rigid outer container and completely encased. The battery or cell terminals should be covered with electrical tape to prevent short circuit. The outer packaging must have a durable coating to protect against abrasions, corrosion and other environmental hazards.
A Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD) must be included in the shipment to prove that the batteries meet all regulatory requirements. It must include details such as the UN number, proper shipping name, class, packing group and any special handling instructions. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) must also be included with the shipment. These documents give important information about the batteries such as their chemical composition and hazards.
As with all international shipping, choosing an experienced logistics provider is essential when shipping batteries or other dangerous goods. Inexperienced providers can miss critical steps in the process and end up with shipments that are delayed or rejected. It is also important to choose a company that has a robust software platform to manage documentation and other regulatory compliance requirements. This makes it easy for them to quickly compare rates, identify the best shipping options and provide carrier-compliant labels.
Batteries power a wide variety of electronic devices including smart phones, electric vehicles and everyday household goods. However, they are classified as dangerous goods and pose a risk for electrical fires when improperly packed or shipped. Shipping batteries and battery-powered products internationally requires special packaging, documentation and compliance with the carrier’s requirements and specific government regulations.
While alkaline or non-spillable batteries (such as AA, AAA, C and D) are not considered hazardous to ship as air cargo, lithium batteries are and must be shipped with the correct documentation. This can include hazard labels, special packaging and shipping alkaline batteries internationally documents indicating compliance. The type of documentation required depends on the type of battery and the destination country’s specific customs regulations.
If you are sending a device with a lithium battery, it must remain switched off and packed away from other items that could cause it to activate during transport. This is to avoid accidental activation and possible fires during transit, which are a serious safety risk.
In addition, it is best to only ship ONE device containing a lithium battery. This is because airlines have stricter regulations from the International Air Transport Association on the number of lithium batteries you can keep in your hand luggage when flying to and from destinations outside the US.
Dangerous Goods Marks & Labels
From a shipping perspective, lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods (DG). They require special packaging and handling to prevent fires during transit. They must also be shipped in compliance with a long list of government and carrier regulations.
Because they are considered DG, all packages containing them must be marked and identified as such. The specific markings required will differ by mode of transport and the type of battery in question. For example, wet cell batteries get their power from liquid electrolyte and generate gases during charge/discharge cycles, so forwarder agent in China they must be vented and kept upright during shipment to avoid leakage and damage. They are therefore classified as Class 9 under the TDG regulations and require a special “Lithium Battery Handling Label” when shipped by air, though other wet cells — such as those used in airplanes, electric vehicles and industrial machinery — can be exempt from this requirement, which explains their use of a simpler UN 2800 label.
All packages must be marked with a Dangerous Goods Identification Number (DGIN), as well as the correct class and UN number. Depending on the mode of transportation, they may also need to be labeled with specific orientation arrows or other safety marks. For more information, see OSH Answers’ document “Transportation of Dangerous Goods – 9 Classes” and the TDG regulations themselves. Of course, all of these markings and labels are only useful if they are adhered to. Shipments that are mislabeled or improperly packaged will not receive the safety protections of the TDG regulations and could be subject to penalties, including fines and shipment delays.
There are a number of special precautions to take when shipping batteries internationally. This includes taking care to ensure that the batteries themselves are not damaged, either by mishandling or by exposure to extreme temperatures. Damaged batteries could leak and pose a fire hazard. In addition, they could also cause a chain reaction, which would release a dangerous amount of energy. This is why it is critical to take steps to prevent this from happening, such as making sure the batteries are properly packaged and insulated.
Lithium batteries are a particular concern since they have the potential to generate heat and catch fire during transportation. To avoid this, you should always choose a 3PL or freight forwarder with experience shipping these types of goods. They will know how to package them properly and make sure they are accompanied by the appropriate documentation. In addition, they will have a strong understanding of the regulations regarding shipping lithium batteries.
While the rules for shipping batteries vary depending on the mode of transport, most batteries are classified as Class 9 Dangerous Goods. This means that they must be shipped in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions on the Safe Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Air and the IATA’s regulations on the Transport of Lithium Batteries. This includes providing a dangerous goods declaration (DGD) and a material safety data sheet (MSDS). In addition, all batteries must be marked with their UN number, a description of their contents, and packing instructions.