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Shipping Batteries or Devices with Batteries

New International Lithium Battery Regulations
The regulations applicable to international air shipments of lithium batteries have changed. Compliance with the new regulations became mandatory January 1, 2013.

Refer to the International Lithium Battery Regulations for more details.

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Types of Batteries
There are many kinds of batteries available today and several are regulated as hazardous materials in transportation that may only be shipped by contract hazmat shippers.

Lead-acid batteries: Common in cars, electric wheelchairs, some continuous computer power sources, and other applications. These batteries contain highly corrosive acid and can cause fires from short circuits.

  • Tested, proven non-spillable batteries are allowed to be shipped as non-hazardous within the U.S. Batteries and packagings must be marked "NONSPILLABLE" or "NONSPILLABLE BATTERY".

Lithium and lithium ion batteries: Both rechargeable or non-rechargeable power sources, common in computers, cell phones, cameras, and other small electronic devices. If dropped, crushed, or short-circuited, these batteries can release dangerous amounts of heat and may ignite, and are dangerous in fires. Special regulations apply to shipping these batteries. Shipments requiring hazardous materials shipping papers are accepted from contract hazmat shippers only, and certain lithium batteries may not qualify for UPS service.

Other Batteries: Although common dry cell (e.g., AA, C, D batteries) may not be regulated as hazardous materials, all batteries can cause fires from short circuits if batteries and terminals are not protected. However, effective January 2010, packages containing dry cell batteries of more than 9 volts must be marked "not restricted."

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Protect Batteries and Terminals
When shipping batteries, you must protect all terminals against short circuits by completely covering the terminals with an insulating material (e.g., by using electrical tape or enclosing each battery separately in a plastic bag).

  • Short circuits can cause fires.
  • Package the batteries to keep them from being crushed or damaged, and to keep them from shifting during handling.
  • Always keep metal objects or other materials that can short circuit battery terminals securely away from the batteries - e.g., by using separate inner box for the batteries.

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Prevent Fires
Any device with installed batteries must not turn on while in transport. Protect switches that can be accidentally activated, or remove the batteries and protect the terminals.

  • Even very simple devices like flashlights or rechargeable drills can generate a dangerous quantity of heat if accidentally activated.

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Recalled or Recycled Batteries
Never use air services to ship batteries recalled by the manufacturer for safety reasons, as such shipments are prohibited by regulation (see e.g., IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, Special Provision A154). Also, batteries accumulated for recycling are not to be sent via air services.

  • Air level services include UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air®, UPS 3 Day SelectSM, UPS Worldwide ExpressSM, UPS Worldwide Express Freight, and UPS Worldwide ExpeditedSM.
  • All UPS services between the continental U.S. and Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico travel by Aircraft.

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Electronic Items for Repair
Repair items, such as computers and cell phones, should be sent without batteries.

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Lithium Battery Documents for Retail
Get step-by-step instructions on how to safely package and label your battery shipments:

Note: These documents are for use when tendering items containing lithium batteries or lithium batteries by themselves over a retail counter. Valid retail channels include: UPS Customer Centers, The UPS Store, authorized shipping outlets, and commercial counters.

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Next Steps
In the U.S., regulations governing the shipment of lithium batteries are expected to change. Consult the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website for more information.



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