Lithium Cells and Batteries

Definitions

The term “lithium battery” or “lithium cell” refers to a family of batteries with different chemistries, comprising many types of cathodes and electrolytes. They are separated into:

Lithium ion batteries (Included lithium polymer batteries)
Rechargeable batteries commonly used in consumer electronics such as;

  • Laptops
  • Mobile phones
  • MP3 players
  • Portable DVD players
  • GPS/navigation systems
  • Cameras
  • Camcorders
  • Scuba-diving lamps
  • Power tools, etc.

Lithium metal batteries (Including lithium alloy batteries)
Non-rechargeable/disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode and generally used in small, portable electronic devices, such as;

  • Watches
  • Thermometers
  • Calculators
  • Remote car locks
  • Back-up batteries in computers and communication equipment, etc.

Why are Lithium Batteries classified as DG?

 
Lithium batteries are considered as hazardous goods due to the fact that they can overheat and ignite under certain conditions.
 
Following several serious (fire) incidents during transport, the regulations for this product type were adjusted and the more stringent regulatory requirements were introduced in 2009.

Classification / Identification

All shipments containing Lithium Batteries are subject to dangerous goods regulations for air, road and sea transport.
 
All lithium batteries are Class 9, Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods.

Lithium Ion Batteries are classified as follows:

Class

UN Number

Proper Shipping Name

Comments

9

UN3480

Lithium ion batteries

Batteries (that are not packed with or installed in equipment)

e.g. loose mobile phone batteries / laptop batteries / power tool batteries

9

UN3481

Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment

Batteries packed together with equipment but not attached to the device

e.g. mobile phone + loose (spare) unattached battery, power tool with loose (spare) battery

9

UN3481

Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment

Batteries contained in equipment, i.e. installed/integrated in the device 

e.g. MP3 player with integrated battery / Mobile phone with integrated battery/laptop with integrated battery / power tool with integrated battery

 Lithium Metal Batteries are classified as follows:

Class

UN Number

Proper Shipping Name

Comments

9

UN3090

Lithium metal batteries

Batteries (that are not packed with or installed in equipment)

e.g. replacement batteries for watches or calculators

9

UN3091

Lithium metal batteries packed with equipment

Batteries packed together with equipment but not attached to the device

e.g. watch with loose battery (not installed in the watch)

9

UN3091

Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment

Batteries contained in equipment, i.e. installed/integrated in the device

e.g. watch with integrated battery / calculator with integrated battery

 How to ship Lithium Batteries

 Lithium Batteries can be transported in 2 different ways:
 
 As a class 9, full dangerous goods shipment
 
TNT Express will accept Lithium Batteries in Dangerous Goods shipments for transport but only from specifically approved customers and with restrictions for the different origins/destinations, and services/products offered.
 
For details on shipping Lithium Batteries in Dangerous Goods shipments through TNT Express, please contact your local TNT Express Dangerous Goods Manager.
 
 As an “Excepted” Lithium Battery shipment
 
TNT Express will accept “Excepted” Lithium Batteries for transport but only if they are shipped in line with the applicable regulations.
 
Air: Part 1 of the relevant Packing Instructions of the IATA DGR
Road (Europe): ADR special provision 188
Sea (ferry): IMDG code special provision 188

"Excepted" Lithium Battery Shipments

This document summarises all relevant requirements for "Excepted" Lithium Battery shipments, including all requirements from December 2011.