A Step Forward in the Transportation of Lithium Batteries

The regulations applicable to the transportation of lithium batteries by air have changed. While these amendments became available late last year, they only took effect this year.

Following the special meeting of the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP), the changes in the lithium batteries regulation were incorporated in the 55th Edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulation. This edition of the DGR emphasizes the changes that were agreed upon by the IATA Dangerous Goods Board (DGB) and the changes that were adopted from the 2013-2014 edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions. These changes were implemented since January 1, 2014.

The purpose of this article is to provide guidance, especially in complying with the provisions applicable to the transportation of dangerous goods by air, like lithium batteries.

Since lithium batteries are fundamental to computers, watches, phones and other electronic devices, lithium batteries regulations have been essential to meet the 21st century necessities.

Electronic devices that require the use of lithium batteries are usually carried in passenger’s luggage and cargo on a daily basis. That being said, the industry is not proposing to prevent passengers form carrying these devices with them in the cabin. However, because of its potential of causing fire, air transportation of lithium battery should be subjected to strict regulations and in-depth monitoring. Likewise, the rules for transporting and shipping dangerous goods as cargo should be strictly observed.

Transport conditions

In an attempt to help you understand the regulations better, we have outlined a few conditions that apply to the various sizes of batteries and the transportation of dangerous goods by air.

  • Shipper’s declaration (DGR Section 8)
  • Marking and labeling of packages (DGR Section 7)
  • UN Specification packaging (DGR Section 6)
  • Limit on the quantity of lithium batteries per package (DGR 4.2)
  • Classification (DGR 3.9.2.6)
  • Dangerous Goods Training (DGR 1.5)

Transport within passenger baggage

Even when carried as baggage, certain restrictions still apply to the carriage of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries. Only the batteries that have successfully passed the test that were outlined in Part III sub-section 38.3 may be carried with them.

While batteries that were manufactured, sold and distributed by major companies actually meet these requirements, authorities also have to be cautious of certain replacement batteries that are not OEM or fake. These types of batteries may not have undergone the required tests. Consequently, untested batteries should be excluded from transport.

Consumers who use equipments that are powered by lithium ion and lithium metal batteries should be vigilant when buying replacement batteries. We strongly discourage buying replacement batteries from unknown sources. You may not tell the difference between a genuine and copied battery, but this may put you in danger. Mind you, untested batteries are more likely to overheat and cause fire.

Due to the risk associated with carrying spare batteries, these batteries are no longer allowed in passenger checked baggage. Instead, they should be packed in carry-on baggage. The above mentioned requirements are stipulated by subparagraph 2.3.5.9 of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulation.