How to Ship Lithium Batteries With Warning Labels

Updated July 13, 2018

Lithium batteries are currently used in many small electronic devices such as digital cameras, digital camcorders and cell phones. Lithium batteries are easy to buy, but shipping them is a more involved process. If you ship lithium batteries, whether on their own or within a cell phone or camera, the batteries are considered a hazardous material. Hazardous materials require specific packaging and labelling when shipped domestically. These requirements are handed down by the federal government through the Department of Aviation and by various aviation agencies, and are consistent with all mailing services.

Read the packaging for your lithium batteries. Find the lithium content for each battery and the content of lithium per cell within the battery, and record the information for consultation after packaging.

Verify your shipment container is an approved mailer. The container must have a gross weight of less than 30kg and must pass a 1.2-meter drop test in any direction. Boxes ordered from a packaging store will specify this information on the box or have the information available upon inquiry.

Package your lithium batteries securely. Ensure the batteries cannot shift within their mailer and that there is an adequate amount of protection on all sides to prevent the batteries from being damaged by an impact.

Label your mailer with a distinct return address and destination address. Lithium batteries cannot be sent without a return address.

Consult the lithium content information recorded previously. Batteries with over 2g of lithium content per battery or over 1g of lithium content per cell must be distinctively labelled against a contrasting background with capitalised words at least 6mm tall stating "PRIMARY LITHIUM BATTERIES –FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” or “LITHIUM METAL

BATTERIES – FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT.” These batteries must also feature an additional label that states "Cargo Aircraft Only."

Label packages containing batteries with no more than 2g of lithium content per battery and 1g or less of lithium content per cell with the "PRIMARY LITHIUM BATTERIES –FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” or “LITHIUM METAL BATTERIES – FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” labels only. Ensure the text is entirely capitalised, against a contrasting background, and at least 6mm tall. If shipping through the USPS, add an additional label stating "Surface Mail Only, Primary Lithium Batteries - Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft."

Read the box, instruction manual or the casing of the lithium battery for your cell phone, camcorder or other electronic device to determine the amount of lithium per cell and battery. To be shipped within the device, each cell must contain no more than 1.5g of lithium content. A maximum of three batteries are eligible for shipment with a device.

Secure the lithium battery if it is a secondary battery being shipped with an electronic device but not contained within the actual device. Make sure the battery cannot shift, short circuit or be damaged by the other contents of the package.

Verify that lithium batteries installed within the actual electronic device are secured from damage and short-circuiting while in transit. The device must also have a method of ensuring the batteries are not inadvertently activated during shipment.

Secure the entire mailing unit and clearly label the package or mailer with a return address and a destination address.

Mark the package with the following message in a 6mm or larger size in all capital letters against a contrasting background "PACKAGE CONTAINS LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES (NO LITHIUM METAL)".

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.