What are Lithium Batteries?
Lithium Ion batteries (also known as lithium cells) are increasingly popular in today’s plugged-in world. Chances are that you will have 3 or 4 items that are powered by rechargeable lithium batteries. Everything from your iPad to your electric car is likely to be charged by this power source.
What makes these batteries different from any other? Lithium batteries can be recharged, unlike your regular day to day alkaline AAAs or similar. Lithium’s generally also have a higher power output, meaning that they can charge more complex electronic items.
Shipping lithium batteries is dangerous, because if these highly flammable items are exposed to certain conditions, they have the potential to overheat and explode. Notoriously, lithium fires cannot be extinguished. If a non-extinguishable fire takes place on a cargo plane, a major disaster can take place.
Can You Ship Lithium Batteries?
You can ship lithium batteries but due to their dangerous nature, strict and specific guidelines must be followed:
- Any Lithium batteries must remain inside the device that they are used for. They cannot be shipped separately, unless you have a special arrangement with your courier.
- In each parcel you send, a maximum of 2 lithium batteries can be included (or 4 lithium cells).
- As Lithium batteries are considered as dangerous goods due to their vulnerability to fire, all attempts to stop them from overheating is vital. Any device with batteries that you are shipping must be turned off and it is vital that you ensure that any on/off switches are protected from accidental activation. This can be done with use of electrical tape or cardboard.
- Follow the IATA regulations regarding packaging. Never have your lithium batteries near to metal objects. Be cautious and place electrical tape on all electrical terminals, this helps to prevent overheating.
- Always place your device inside a plastic bag. This prevents any static interference and serves as another layer of protection against an outbreak of fire.
- Although you can send lithium batteries by courier, you must not do so if the battery is faulty. This is a crime and will be punished at the very least with a hefty fine.
If you plan on shipping lithium batteries overseas then bear in mind that some countries may have different regulations and other specific requirements that need to be met. So always contact customer services if you have doubts or questions.
Packaging Lithium Batteries for Shipment
As with anything that you choose to send via courier, it is important to make sure that your shipment safely survives its transportation. To keep your package safe during transport, you will need to safely package the electrical item that houses your battery.
With any electrical item that is powered by a lithium battery, you must make sure that the item is turned off during transit. This is to prevent the device overheating which can cause the battery to overheat and explode.
Ensure that the device cannot turn on at any point during the shipment. After a parcel is collected it is transferred to a depot where it is sorted. During this process your parcel must be packaged in a way that it can withstand a drop or being knocked by other packages etc. Having a parcel that is packaged to this standard also ensures that your electrical item will be secure during transit. This in turn, means that your item will not turn on.
Rechargeable Lithium Batteries
- Power tools
- Remote controls
- Electronic Cigarettes
This non-exhaustive list gives an indication of the range of items that you can find rechargeable these batteries in. If you are shipping something and you are not sure whether it contains a lithium power source, then check with the manufacturer; it’s your legal responsibility to specifically declare every item that you are exporting.
Shipping Laptops with Lithium Batteries
Laptops are one of the most common items that are shipped with Lithium batteries. It is important to make sure that your laptop is not able to move around during transit. This is how laptops and their batteries are damaged. If you are planning on sending a laptop, read our guide on packaging laptops to make sure that it arrives safely.