Shipping lithium batteries isn’t as easy as you might first think. And with a lot of consumers’ items using lithium-ion batteries, how do you make sure they get where they need to go without it costing you a fortune?
The main problem with shipping lithium batteries or products that use lithium-ion batteries is that batteries pose a lot of safety risks when they aren’t handled properly.
We’ll show you how you can make sure that shipping lithium batteries internationally within a product doesn’t put anyone in any unnecessary danger.
Products that have lithium batteries
Before you ship anything that’s powered by a lithium-ion battery, it’s important to understand the types of items and devices that use lithium batteries.
With the increase in online retail shopping (hello, COVID-19) reaching an all-time high in the last 12 months, more consumer items are being shipped all over the world. This is why it’s important that any products that use lithium batteries are sent with care.
Some of the types of products that use lithium batteries include:
- Mobile phones
- Medical devices
- Power tools
- Measuring equipment
- Automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
All of these products are actually classified as dangerous goods, not just here in Singapore, but worldwide, and it’s for a good reason:
- They are very flammable and may cause a fire if not packaged correctly
- They are extremely sensitive to environmental factors such as high heat
- They are more prone to short-circuiting when being shipped
With all of this in mind, the right courier service is important to make sure that products containing lithium batteries are packaged and shipped correctly. Lithium batteries need to go through a rigorous process such as being correctly declared, packaged the right way, labelled properly, and stored safely while in transit.
Can you mail lithium batteries?
As soon as you heard the words “dangerous goods” it’s likely you started to rethink your purchase. But, you can actually mail lithium batteries IF you do it properly.
It takes a little more than popping your product into a box and sending it off. To ensure that your lithium battery doesn’t explode or get damaged in the shipping process, it’s important to work with an experienced courier company that has stringent guidelines for shipping dangerous goods.
Some of these couriers include:
- SR Express
- Priority Mail Express
Why would you work with these companies? Why not just use any courier services?
Well, for starters, they have strict guidelines that have to be followed when shipping lithium batteries and other dangerous goods.
This also means they need to employ trained people who know how to handle dangerous goods safely. They also are qualified to follow the appropriate regulations to ship lithium batteries.
Requirements for shipping dangerous goods
Now that you know that you can ship products with lithium batteries, there are a few guidelines you need to follow. Some of these regulations include:
- If you’re shipping a lithium battery over 35kgs it needs to be pre-approved by the national authority
- You cannot ship any defective or damaged lithium batteries
- Packaging must ensure that the battery cannot short-circuit while being shipped
- The correct packaging and labelling must clearly identify that it’s dangerous goods and a lithium battery
- You may be required to use special packaging for safety
Types of lithium batteries
There are two types of lithium batteries and they have their own requirements:
Lithium metal batteries
This style of lithium battery uses lithium as an anode. The usage life of lithium metal batteries is long. Not every courier takes shipments for this type of battery. DHL, for example, forbids the shipping of loose lithium metal batteries.
This type of lithium battery is rechargeable and most often used for portable consumer electronics. This is the type of battery that you can’t have inside your luggage when flying. But you can get lithium-ion batteries shipped with the right courier, as long as they are packaged the right way. DHL Express, FedEx, UPS, and Priority Mail Express are all able to ship lithium batteries.
What if you don’t follow compliance regulations?
Battery regulation guidelines exist for a reason. This is why couriers, airlines, and governments work with clear requirements for the handling of dangerous goods. If they aren’t handled the right way, the consequences can be extreme.
If you don’t follow these guidelines, at best, the shipment might be rejected by the courier and you will be unable to get your product where it needs to go.
At worst, if you incorrectly declare your items and you get caught, you could find yourself with a hefty fine, not to mention that something could happen while the lithium battery is in transit that results in death.
As a business, you could find yourself blacklisted and unable to ship anything in the future.
How to ship your lithium batteries safely by mail
Now that you know all the risks and regulations, here’s how you make sure that your shipment meets all the lithium battery regulations:
- Ensure all batteries and their terminals are protected to minimise short-circuiting
- Use non-conductive and insulating materials to cover terminals
- Batteries should be packed in fully-enclosed packaging
- Keep batteries far from other metal objects that could cause short-circuiting
- Ensure devices can’t turn on while in transit by placing protective covering on/off switches
- Ensure batteries are properly placed inside devices and not defective
- Use the correct labels to show that it contains lithium batteries and dangerous goods
Aside from these requirements, you may need documentation and certifications to ship your lithium batteries before the courier will accept your package. Some of these might include a dangerous goods contract, a material safety data sheet (MSDS), and a UN38.3 certificate.
It can take quite a lot of time for these documents and approvals to be issued, so make sure you plan for it.
Send your lithium batteries safely
If you need to ship products such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, or other products that use lithium batteries (either lithium-ion batteries or lithium metal batteries), you’ll need to make sure your shipments meet shipping lithium battery requirements.
Priority Mail Express provides a range of shipping solutions for your lithium batteries.
Some of the countries we ship to are:
Start shipping your items safely today!