New Regulations for Shipping Li-ion Batteries

li ion caution

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) met in October 2011 and again in February 2012 to discuss revised procedures for shipping Lithium Batteries by air. Some important changes are going into effect on January 1, 2013. If you deal with HS code 8507.60.00, you should take notice to these upcoming regulations.

With the influx of portable gadgets, there is a corresponding increase in the need for Lithium ion batteries. The Lithium ion battery, sometimes called the Li-ion battery, is the most popular type of battery for portable electronics, and is increasingly found in industrial applications as well. It is a rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge, and back when charging.

The Danger

One of the drawbacks of Li-ion batteries is that if they are overheated or overcharged, they may suffer thermal runaway and cell rupture, sometimes resulting in combustion.

The DGP meeting in February referenced one such incident that happened in October of 2011. A ground worker at Totonto’s Pearson airport observed smoke being emitted from a shipment of electric bicycle batteries. Fire services were called to extinguish the fire. Their initial report suggested that there were two sources of fire.

The resulting investigation found the consignment to meet all the requirements of the Technical Instructions. The shipper had classified, marked, labeled, documented and packaged (using Packing Instruction 967) the consignment in accordance with the Technical Instructions and respected internal company procedures on packaging. Shipper personnel were trained.

Regulation Changes

ICAO made several changes to the packing instructions for shipments of lithium ion batteries (UN 3480). These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2013. ICAO does not consider these changes will necessarily reduce incidents involving lithium batteries; but they will significantly improve safety. Listed below are some of the major changes:

  • Lithium battery manufacturers will be required to implement a quality management system
  • Per package limits have been revised to make all “quantities” “NET QUANTITES OF LITHIUM BATTERIES PER PACKAGE”. This also applies to lithium batteries that are contained in equipment and lithium batteries packed with equipment. (These changes can be found in Table 4.2 IATA 54th Edition)
  • “Bulk” shipments of lithium batteries have been significantly reduced (reference Packing Instructions (PI) 965 and Packing Instructions (PI) 968)
  • For small cells and batteries up to 2.7 watt hours (WH) for lithium ion and up to 0.3G lithium content for lithium metal the limit is 2.5KG/net quantity per package
  • Lithium cells and batteries up to 20 watt hours (WH)/ 100 watt hours (WH) for lithium ion cells and batteries and up to 1G/2G lithium content for metal cells and batteries must now be shipped under the new provisions section in the IATA 54th Edition manual which include the following standards:
    •  Dangerous goods training for shippers
    • Except non-UN specification packaging may be used
    • Shipper’s Declaration is not required provided the required information is provided in an alternative documentation
    • Package limits include: 10kg G for lithium ion (PI 965)
    • Package limits include: 2.5kg G for lithium metal (PI 970)
    • Must bear the lithium battery handling label and the class 9 hazard label

 You can find additional information on Lithium battery changes to the 54th Edition IATA manual.



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