Lithium Cells and Batteries

Definitions

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

Lithium ion batteries (including 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 batter/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 origin/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 :  Section II of the relevant Packing Instructions of the IATA DGR
Road (Europe) : ADR special provision 188
Sea (Ferry): IMDG code special provision 188