Shipping Batteries Overseas? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Shipping Batteries Overseas? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’re shipping batteries overseas, or even just equipment that contains them, it’s important to understand some specific regulations. Because of their dangerous nature, they require specialized packaging and labeling, and must comply with a long list of carrier and government guidelines.

There are also strict restrictions on the number of lithium battery packs you can ship, particularly for air freight. The following are some of the main guidelines:

1. Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium batteries are the heart of smartphones, tablets and electric vehicles that we’ll all be driving someday. However, they are considered dangerous goods (DG) from a shipping perspective and require specialized packaging, labeling and storage — along with adherence to a long list of government regulations and carrier requirements. Not all 3PLs and freight forwarders have the experience to ship lithium ion batteries overseas, which can lead to supply chain delays and expensive fines.

While efficient, lithium batteries have inherent risks including thermal runaway, which can cause them to overheat and ignite, creating fires or explosions. This risk is heightened during the shipment process when temperature fluctuations, physical damage and handling can occur.

To help mitigate these risks, all individuals that handle or transport lithium batteries must have completed IATA’s Dangerous Goods Training course. This training outlines the various functions that are required throughout the air cargo supply shipping lithium batteries internationally chain for the safe and proper transportation of lithium batteries, or products packaged with them.

As a result of recent safety concerns, IATA has tightened up the rules and guidelines for shipping lithium batteries and products containing them abroad. It’s important to be aware of these changes, which vary by air freight and sea freight regulations. It’s also crucial to work with an experienced freight forwarder that can guide you through the necessary steps to ensure 100% compliance.

2. Regular lithium metal batteries

The lithium batteries that power our smartphones, tablets, and even the electric vehicles we’ll all be driving one day are incredibly powerful and versatile. Unfortunately, they’re also classified as dangerous goods from a shipping perspective, requiring specialized packaging, labeling and storage and strict adherence to an exhaustive list of government regulations and carrier requirements when shipping them overseas. While many 3PLs and freight forwarders say they can ship lithium batteries, not all of them have the experience required to do so safely, quickly and in full compliance with international shipping regulations.

When shipping lithium batteries, they must be packed in the correct outer package specified by IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). The outer package should be rugged and crash-resistant to prevent shifts during shipment that could damage or loosen protective coverings. The inner package should be made from fiberboard or plastic to protect the batteries from conductive substances and flammable liquids that may leak during transit.

Lithium metal batteries are not rechargeable, so they’re shipped as Fully Regulated shipments under IATA’s Packing Instructions PI 965 and PI 968 in the DGR. To ship them, you’ll need international shipping solutions to complete all the proper documentation and labels, which include a legal declaration that you’ve prepared your shipment in accordance with the DGR. Airlines will then validate this information and accept your shipment as compliant.

3. Power tools

Power tools are the backbone of the modern world – from a weekend bathroom remodel to building your new home, countless projects would be impossible without them. But if you’re a tradesperson who has a lot of power tools, it’s important to understand the safety concerns around shipping them overseas.

For air shipments, all lithium cells and batteries are considered Class 9 Dangerous Goods, so power tools must be packaged and shipped separately from their batteries. It’s recommended to keep them in a hard case or hard-shelled battery compartment, and to use nonconductive dividers to separate multiple batteries within the same packaging. Also, make sure the vents are pointed up and secure the outer packaging securely. Label and mark your package appropriately for air shipments – you may need to attach additional Dangerous Goods Shipper’s Declaration stickers as well.

Power tool batteries are often incompatible between different manufacturers – even when using the same voltage, amp hour, and battery platform. This creates vendor lock-in, prevents you from being able to easily use different power tools and chargers, and can result in poor sustainability for your power tool. There are adapters available to allow mixing of power tools and batteries from different manufacturers, but they can potentially cause damage and void warranties. In addition, some of these adapters do not fully implement the tool’s battery safety and monitoring systems.

4. Electronic devices

All electronic devices that contain lithium batteries — whether rechargeable battery cells or lithium metal batteries — are considered Dangerous Goods (DG). Depending on the type of device and its contents, certain requirements must be followed to ensure proper shipping.

For instance, EV batteries must be packed in packaging that completely encloses them, prevents shifting during transit, and is made from electrically non-conductive materials to protect against short circuiting and physical damage. These protective measures are especially important for air shipments, as lithium batteries can become extremely hot and pose a fire risk.

It’s also necessary to determine if the device is sensitive to temperature or power fluctuations, and consider if it’s worth disassembling it for more protection. Ultimately, shipping electronics overseas requires knowledge of the rules and regulations of each country and the expertise of logistics experts like Airsupply to guarantee smooth cargo delivery.

Despite the strict rules and time-consuming process, shipping batteries internationally can be done with the right preparations. If you’re looking to ship lithium batteries or other dangerous goods, trust the international logistics experts at Airsupply. We can assist you in determining the appropriate mode of transportation for your shipment, provide packing and labeling instructions, and handle all the necessary documentation and customs clearance for you. Contact us today to learn more! Open an account to get quotes, schedule pickups, find locations and more.

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