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Shipping Batteries or Devices with Batteries

New International Lithium Battery Regulations

2016: The international regulations applicable to air shipments of lithium batteries have changed. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has approved amendments to the lithium battery provisions in the ICAO Technical Instructions. Compliance with the new regulations is mandatory effective April 1, 2016. These amendments include:

  • Passenger Aircraft Ban for Lithium Ion Batteries: All shipments of lithium batteries without equipment are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft. As a result, all lithium ion battery shipments must display the Cargo Aircraft Only label. Due to UPS's reliance on passenger aircraft to transport packages in some parts of its network, this change will restrict the origins and destinations available for lithium ion batteries. This limitation does not affect lithium ion batteries packed with or contained in equipment.
  • State of Charge Limits: A 30 percent state of charge (SOC) limit on lithium-ion cells and batteries, including Section II cells and batteries. This does not apply to batteries packed with or contained in equipment.
  • Restrictions on Package Quantity: A shipper is not allowed to offer more than one Section II package (batteries only) per consignment.
  • Restrictions on Overpacks: Overpacks may contain no more than one Section II package - 8 cells or 2 batteries - (batteries only).
  • Battery Package Separation: A shipper must offer lithium battery shipments (batteries only) separately from other cargo.


These amendments are detailed in a lithium battery update document found on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) web site: http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/lithium-battery-update.pdf.

2015: The international regulations applicable to air shipments of lithium metal batteries have changed. Compliance with the new regulations is mandatory effective January 1, 2015.

The regulations, published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), prohibit transport of lithium metal batteries (shipped without equipment) on passenger aircraft. As a result, UPS will limit transport of these shipments to within its International Dangerous Goods (IDG) network.

International Lithium Battery RegulationsOpen the link in a new window

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Lithium Metal Battery Shipper Pre-Approval

Effective July 1, 2015, all existing customers and new customers who wish to ship lithium metal batteries without equipment (UN3090) via UPS® Air services must obtain pre-approval from UPS Airlines.

This requirement applies to all lithium metal battery shipments, including those that are considered lightly regulated (such as small cells or batteries), as well as those that are fully regulated. Fully regulated shipments will also require dangerous goods shipping papers and a separate UPS Dangerous Goods Agreement.

Shippers may begin obtaining pre-approval immediately. Please download the PDF form below, complete it in English, and email it to dangerousgoods@ups.com. After your request is reviewed, you will receive additional instructions in an email from dangerousgoods@ups.com.

Download the Pre-Approval Form (English only)Open the link in a new window

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Types of Batteries

There are many kinds of batteries available today and several are regulated as dangerous goods in transportation that may only be shipped by contract shippers within the UPS authorized dangerous goods service area.

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 under international rules to be shipped as non-hazardous if they will not leak from a cracked case at a high temperature. Batteries and packaging may also be marked "NONSPILLABLE" or "NONSPILLABLE BATTERY".


Lithium battery: There are two types of lithium batteries: lithium ion and lithium metal. If dropped, crushed, or short circuited, they could catch fire. These batteries are subject to special regulations. Lithium ion batteries are found in cell phones and laptops. Lithium metal batteries are found in flashlights, watches, and calculators. Shipments requiring dangerous goods shipping documents are accepted only from contract shippers for transport within the UPS dangerous goods service area. Certain lithium batteries may not qualify for UPS dangerous goods service.

Lithium ion batteries (left) and lithium metal batteries (right).

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.

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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. 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 ship recalled or recycled batteries by air.

  • International air level services include UPS Express, UPS Worldwide Express Freight, and UPS Expedited.
  • Other air services are identified as UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air®, and 3 Day SelectSM.

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Electronic Items for Repair

When sending equipment for repairs, such as computers and mobile phones or other battery operated devices, if there is any risk that the device could overheat, it should be sent without batteries.

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