What are lithium batteries?

They’re the little bundles of power that keep our world connected. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries keep our laptops and mobile phones running. Non rechargeable metal lithium batteries power our watches and remote car keys.

Why are they dangerous goods?

In a word? Fire.

Increasingly powerful, lithium batteries are designed to keep devices running for hours or days at a time. To achieve this, they contain high levels of electric energy. If packed incorrectly or damaged in transit, lithium batteries can short-circuit, causing them to overheat and catch fire.

 

Poor quality and counterfeit batteries are most at risk because they haven’t been through the
rigorous testing required.

Definitions of lithium batteries

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:


(I) 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.
 

(II) 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, Remote car locks, Back-up batteries in computers and communication equipment, etc.
 

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:

ClassUN NumberProper Shipping NameComments
9UN3480Lithium ion batteriesBatteries (that are not packed with or installed in equipment)

e.g. loose mobile phone batteries / laptop batteries / power tool batteries
9UN3481Lithium ion batteries packed with equipmentBatteries packed together with equipment but not attached to the device

e.g. mobile phone + loose (spare) unattached battery, power tool with loose (spare) battery
9UN3481Lithium ion batteries contained in equipmentBatteries 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:

ClassUN NumberProper Shipping NameComments
9UN3090Lithium ion batteriesBatteries (that are not packed with or installed in equipment)

e.g. replacement batteries for watches or calculators
9UN3091Lithium ion batteries packed with equipmentBatteries packed together with equipment but not attached to the device

e.g. watch with loose battery (not installed in the watch)
9UN3091Lithium ion batteries contained in equipmentBatteries contained in equipment, i.e. installed/integrated in the device

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

Where are they found?

The top 10 most popular shipments containing lithium batteries are:

1. Laptops and tablets

2. iPhones and iPads

3. Mobile phones

4. Measuring equiment

5. Medical devices

6. Hoverboards

7. Electric bicycles

8. Power tools

9. Automated External
Defibrillators

10. Drones

How can I ship lithium batteries?

We've developed this handy guide to help you with your lithium battery shipments.

For more information please contact TNT on 13 11 50.

Where can I find more details?

You can download our comprehensive PDF guide to shipping lithium batteries. Alternatively, you can just get in touch with us. 

Significant changes have been made to the global regulations for the transportation of lithium batteries by air.

Whose responsibility is all this?

It’s the shipper’s responsibility to ensure dangerous goods are correctly declared, packed and labelled with the right documentation for the countries of origin, transit and destination.

 

What we can do is make it as easy as possible for you to follow these rules. With a bit of teamwork, we’ll get your dangerous goods shipped in no time.

Any questions?

If you have any doubts about whether your shipment is classified as dangerous goods or not, just get in touch with our experts using the button below. They’re on hand to answer all your dangerous goods questions – and will walk you through the shipping process.

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