March 11th 2020

IATA Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines 2020

IATA Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines 2020

In this digital era, Lithium batteries have become an integral part of most electronic devices. They provide more energy and longer operating life than other types of batteries. Lithium batteries, due to their higher risks, are categorized as dangerous goods. They possess safety risks that must not be overlooked while transporting them. They fall under the family of batteries with different chemistries, comprising many types of cathodes and electrolytes.

IATA Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines 2020
includes everything that is required for preparing shipments with lithium batteries and is in compliance with international air transport regulations.

Types of Lithium Batteries
There are two key categories of lithium batteries which power a wide variety of consumer goods: lithium ion batteries, and lithium metal batteries. The first one, lithium ion batteries are used in, for example, mobile phones, tablets and laptops. They are usually rechargeable and consist of lithium polymer.

As for the second type, lithium metal batteries, they are typically used in, for example, watches, calculators and defibrillators. These lithium batteries consist of lithium metal and are usually non-rechargeable.

Risks of Transporting Lithium Batteries
One of the biggest risks associated with the transportation of lithium batteries is the potential of short-circuits, especially when the battery comes into contact with other metal objects. Most lithium batteries contain a flammable electrolyte. They have a higher energy density that can overheat and ignite, causing fires and potentially life-threatening situations. This is why lithium batteries are deemed dangerous goods. IATA lithium battery shipping guidelines specify the packaging restrictions that must be considered in order to ensure safe transport.

2020 IATA Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines (LBSG)
IATA has created shipping guidelines to assist shippers when offering their lithium batteries and or equipment for transport. With the increased safety risks, the aviation industry has tightened the rules and regulations. Full compliance with IATA regulations is an important part of the legal responsibility that the shipper must undertake.

Here are some examples of what a shipper must ensure prior to shipping their lithium batteries and or equipment:
  • Effective 1 January 2020, manufacturers and subsequent distributors of cells or batteries and equipment powered by cells and batteries manufactured after 30 June 2003 must make available the test summary as specified in the current UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, sub-section 38.3, paragraph 38.3.5.
  • The type of lithium batteries must be identified prior to packaging as either Lithium Ion Batteries or Lithium Metal Batteries.
  • Lithium ion batteries must not be transported at a stage of charge exceeding 30% of their rated capacity.
  • There are limits that may apply to the number of packages of Lithium batteries being shipped in consignments.
  • Packaging must be prepared carefully and all the necessary safety measures must be considered, including having the batteries individually separated to avoid contact with any metal object in the package in order to prevent short circuits
  • Any lithium batteries that are damaged, defective or being recalled by the manufacturer are forbidden for air transport.

  • Test Summary Report
    All lithium cells and batteries transported as per the 
    2020 IATA lithium battery shipping guidelines must comply with the battery test summary report. Multiple batteries can be addressed in a single document, but the document must be completed with all the required information. The test summary report of the lithium batteries must be made available upon request.

    The summary report consists of all the relevant information about the lithium batteries including the description, watt-hour rating, and model numbers.

    Stress-Free Shipping of Lithium Batteries
    EZ-Ship software will assist shippers of lithium batteries being shipped using the most current regulations. We take care of all the documentation requirements including packaging regul