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Shipping Batteries or Devices with Batteries

Effective January 1, 2017, UPS will require Section II batteries to be fully regulated.

Effective January 1, 2017, UPS will change its requirements for shipping lithium batteries by air. These changes support our continuing efforts to ensure the safety of our employees while at the same time meeting the needs of our customers.

The change will require that all U.S. Air and international Air shipments of lithium ion or metal cells and batteries shipped without equipment by a UPS Air service be prepared and shipped as fully regulated dangerous goods. Beginning January 1, 2017, UPS will no longer allow air shipments under reduced regulations, such as:

  • Section II of IATA Packing Instructions 965 (ion, UN3480) and 968 (metal, UN3090)
  • 49 CFR 173.185(c)

Shippers will need to enter a UPS Dangerous Goods service agreement before shipping lithium ion or lithium metal batteries without equipment by air. This requirement does not apply to UPS® Ground shipments. Additional service fees may apply to these changes.
The following list of services are applicable to these changes:

UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air®, UPS 3 Day Select®, UPS Express Critical®, UPS Worldwide Express Plus®, UPS Worldwide Express®, UPS Worldwide Express Freight®, UPS Worldwide Saver®, UPS Worldwide Expedited®, UPS Express® Freight, UPS Air Freight Direct®, UPS Air Freight Consolidated®, UPS Next Day Air® Freight and UPS 2nd Day Air® Freight, as well as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico using UPS Ground.

Questions about shipping dangerous goods with UPS may be directed to your UPS sales professional.

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Guidance on Shipping Lithium Battery Power Banks

The 2017 IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations and supplemental IATA Lithium Battery Guidance clarify that battery packs, modules or battery assemblies, often known as power banks or portable chargers, are regulated as lithium ion batteries (UN3480). Such shipments are subject to the UPS requirement that, when shipped by air, all lithium ion and metal batteries must be shipped as fully regulated dangerous goods.

Classification questions related to a specific product should be directed to the appropriate national authority in the country from or within which a shipper wishes to send lithium batteries.

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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 U.S. rules to be shipped as non-hazardous if they will not leak from a cracked case at a high temperature. Batteries and packagings 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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Important: New Lithium Battery Regulations for 2016

International Regulations for 2016: The international regulations applicable to air shipments of lithium batteries have changed. Compliance with the new regulations is mandatory effective April 1, 2016.

The international regulations applicable to air shipments of lithium batteries have changed. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has approved amendments in relation to the lithium battery provisions in the ICAO Technical Instructions. These amendments include:

  • Passenger Aircraft Ban for Lithium Ion Batteries: All shipments of lithium batteries without equipment are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft.
    • This does not apply to lithium ion batteries packed with or contained in equipment.
    • All lithium ion battery shipments must display the Cargo Aircraft Only label.
    • In some parts of the UPS network, we must rely on passenger aircraft to transport packages. Therefore, this change will restrict the origins and destinations available for lithium ion batteries.
  • 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.

International Lithium Battery RegulationsOpen the link in a new window

U.S. Lithium Battery RegulationsOpen the link in a new window

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Lithium Battery Documents for Retail

Get step-by-step instructions on how to safely package and label your battery shipments:

Lithium Battery Safety DocumentOpen the link in a new window

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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Related Links

UPS transports dangerous goods to and from approved countries.

Dangerous Goods Service AreasOpen the link in a new window