Lithium Batteries -
Frequently Asked Questions

  • Lithium Batteries - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Following the instructions on your website, my battery type is classified as section II of UN3481, P.I.967, while the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS) shows section II of UN3480, P.I.965. Why is there a difference, and what should I do?

There could be a difference if the SDS does not take into account the various shipping configurations of the battery, for example, stand-alone, packed with equipment, or contained in equipment. Differences can also exist if referencing an old SDS because the information contained in it may not reflect current regulations. Please contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further support.

2. What is the “state of charge” or SOC?

This term refers to the percentage of the electrical stored capacity in a rechargeable cell or battery (e.g. lithium ion cells or batteries) that is available for use. A fully charged lithium ion battery has a 100% state of charge (SOC). Research has demonstrated that for lithium ion batteries, reduced SOC may provide an additional level of safety during transport and reduce the likelihood of a thermal event. Effective 1 April 2016, all lithium ion batteries shipped by air without equipment must not exceed 30% SOC.

3. What is a button battery?

A button battery is a small round battery where the height is less than the diameter. It is also commonly referred to as a “coin battery ”. Examples can be found in watches, calculators, electronic clocks and toys.

4. What is a “cell” versus a “battery”?

A battery is two or more cells electrically connected together by permanent means, including cases, terminals and markings.
Note:
“Battery packs,” “modules” or “battery assemblies” are treated as batteries under this regulation.

A cell is a single encased electrochemical unit. It has one positive and one negative electrode that exhibits a voltage differential across its two terminals.*
Note: Many cells can be termed “battery” or “single-cell battery” in common conversation, but under this regulation a single cell must use the requirements related to “cells” only. Examples of a “cell” would be a CR123 primary lithium cell used for cameras and flashlights.

5. Is a power bank classified as dangerous goods?

If the power bank contains one or more lithium batteries then it is classified as dangerous goods. Please refer to the product SDS (Safety Data Sheet), product specifications, our website or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

6. Is a power bank classified as a stand-alone battery?

Yes. IATA considers power banks to be a type of stand-alone battery which must be classified as UN3480 (lithium ion) or UN3090 (lithium metal), as appropriate.

7. Are AA and AAA batteries classified as dangerous goods?

AA and AAA indicate the physical size of a battery, not the type. It is important to know the packing instruction type in order to determine if it is classified as dangerous goods. Lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods. Please refer to the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

8. Can FedEx accept defective batteries?

No, we cannot.

9. Which countries can export/import stand-alone lithium batteries?

10. Why can only certain countries accept stand-alone lithium batteries?

Stand-alone lithium batteries are prohibited for transportation as cargo aboard passenger-carrying aircraft. They must travel aboard cargo aircraft only and not all countries have a regular cargo aircraft service to their location.

11. Can FedEx Ship Manager identify countries that can accept lithium batteries when I am checking service availability?

No, it cannot. Depending on your lithium battery packing instruction type, please follow this link to refer to the list of FedEx accepted origins/destinations. If you cannot find your desired countries, please contact our Customer Service hotline for further information.

12. What paperwork is required to ship items with lithium batteries?

Depending on your lithium battery packing instruction type, please refer to the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

13. Can I ship dry cell batteries? Are they classified as dangerous goods?

Sealed, non-vented batteries of the type used in flashlights or for the operation of small apparatus are not generally classified as dangerous goods. They contain zinc salts and other solids, or may be of the nickel cadmium type or other combinations of metals. Such batteries must be packed in inner packaging in such a manner as to effectively prevent short circuits and movement. Examples of such batteries are: alkali-manganese, zinc-carbon, nickel-metal hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries.

14. Can I ship wet batteries? Are they classified as dangerous goods?

Wet batteries are normally classified as dangerous goods because they contain corrosive acid. FedEx can transport properly prepared dangerous goods shipments from one location to another as long as FedEx is certified to handle dangerous goods at both origin and destination locations. Please refer to the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

15. How do I properly pack a shipment containing lithium batteries?

Depending on your lithium battery packing instruction type, please refer to the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

16. Can I ship stand-alone lithium metal batteries?

FedEx can accept shipments containing stand-alone lithium metal batteries to/from locations where FedEx is certified to handle dangerous goods. Customers must be pre-approved by FedEx.

How to obtain pre-approval:

  • Click on this link
  • Scroll down to the “Lithium batteries” section, choose your packing instruction type and follow the instructions

Also refer to our Packing Instruction Types, Origins/ Destinations, Packing and Documentation Required to prepare your package.

17. Why do I need to obtain pre-approval before FedEx can accept my lithium metal battery?

Lithium metal batteries have the potential to cause a fire incident if they are not packaged properly. The pre-approval process provides an extra level of assurance that the lithium metal batteries will be suitably packaged for air transportation.

18. How do I determine classification of my battery/battery-associated items?

Please consult the battery manufacturer, the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our Customer Service hotline for further information.

19. Can I ship an electric scooter?

FedEx will only accept BRAND NEW e-scooters, hover boards and other self-balancing powered vehicles from commercial manufacturers/shippers in unopened original packaging as fully regulated under “UN3171 Battery Powered Vehicles”. Such items must be marked, labelled and documented as per the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). Please contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

20. Is there any surcharge for lithium battery shipments?

Please refer to our Surcharge section to see if there is any surcharge applied to your lithium battery shipment. If you do not know what your lithium battery packing instruction type is, please consult the battery manufacturer, the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

21. Can I ship lithium polymer batteries?

A lithium polymer battery is a type of rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Please refer to our Origins/ Destinations section to see if you can ship lithium polymer batteries with us, or contact our lithium battery specialists via our Customer Service hotline if you cannot find your desired location. If you do not know what your lithium battery packing instruction type is, please refer to the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

22. Can I ship button cell lithium batteries?

Please refer to our Origins/ Destinations section to see if you can ship button cell lithium batteries with us, or contact our lithium battery specialists via our Customer Service hotline if you cannot find your desired location. If you do not know what your lithium battery packing instruction type is, please refer to the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product specifications, our website, or contact our lithium battery specialist team via our Customer Service hotline for further information.

23. Is there a mathematical formula to calculate Watt-hour measurement?

Yes. In some cases, you can find the watt-hours on the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or on the battery itself. In the example below, the watt-hours are provided by the manufacturer on the battery.

When the watt-hours are not pre-printed on the battery, you must calculate the watt-hours yourself.

It is quite easy, but you will need a calculator. The battery shown below does not show the watt-hours directly, but provides enough information to perform the calculation.

The calculation used to determine watt-hours is: Volts x ampere-hour (Ah) = watt-hours

The calculation used to determine watt-hours is: Volts x ampere-hour (Ah) = watt-hours

Example: “10.8 V 2500 mAh” contains the information needed to determine the watt-hours for this battery.

  • “10.8 V” means 10.8 Volts
  • “2500 mAh” means 2500 milliampere-hours. Since most batteries have low ampere-hour ratings, they are rated in milliamperes per hour (mAh), or one thousandth of an ampere-hour (Ah).
  • Since a milliampere-hour is one thousandth of an ampere-hour, divide 2500 mAH by 1,000 to get ampere-hours (Ah): 2500 mAh : 1,000 = 2.5 Ampere-hours 
  • To determine the watt-hours in this battery, multiply 10.8 volts by 2.5 ampere-hours: 10.8 V x 2.5 Ah = 27 Wh

24. Is there a mathematical formula to calculate lithium metal content?

If you do not have enough information to determine the lithium content of a battery, the following formulas will assist you:

Ah per cell x 0.3g x number of cells

  • Many batteries are not rated in Ampere-hours (Ah), they are rated in milliampere-hours (mAh). Milliampere-hours are one thousandth of an ampere-hour. To determine the Ah, divide the mAh by 1,000.
  • About 0.3 grams of lithium metal is required to produce 1 Ampere-hour of power.

    For example, if the battery you wish to ship is rated at 2,500 mAh per cell and contains six cells:
  • Divide 2,500 mAh by 1,000 to get the rating in Ampere-hours:
    2,500 mAh ÷ 1,000 = 2.5 Ah
  • Multiple the Ah by 0.3 g to determine the amount of lithium in each cell:
    2.5 x 0.3g = 0.75 grams of lithium in each cell
  • Multiply the amount of lithium in each cell by the number of cells in each battery:
    0.75 grams/cell x 6 = 4.5 grams of lithium in the battery

25. Where are lithium ion batteries commonly used?

batteryLithium ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics as rechargeable batteries. They are the most popular battery for portable electronic devices like laptops, mobile phones, MP3 players, and camcorders.

 

 

 

 

26. Where are lithium metal batteries commonly used?

common batteriesLithium metal batteries usually are non-rechargeable with a longer life than the normal alkaline batteries and are typically used in toys and cameras.

 

 

 

27. I used to ship UN 3090 or UN 3480 lithium batteries prepared as IATA Section II shipments with FedEx. Why is FedEx now asking me to declare them as IATA Section IA or IB?

New FedEx Express operator variations will come into effect as of 1 January 2017. These operator variations will impact all FedEx Express shipments containing stand-alone lithium metal batteries Section II (categorized as UN 3090) or stand-alone lithium ion batteries Section II (categorized as UN 3480).

Effective 1 January 2017, FedEx Express will no longer accept UN 3090 or UN 3480 lithium batteries prepared as IATA Section II shipments. Instead, shipments containing UN 3090 or UN 3480 lithium batteries must be offered as fully regulated IATA Section I shipments (IA or IB). Please note that Section IA/IB UN 3090 and UN 3480 lithium batteries are fully regulated Class 9 Dangerous Goods and classified as Inaccessible Dangerous Goods (IDG).

Please plan to make changes on how you classify, identify, package, mark, label, and document your lithium battery shipments.

28. What’s different about the markings and labelling for lithium batteries being shipped as IATA Section IA/ IB?

Shipments containing UN 3090 or UN 3480 lithium batteries Section IA/ IB will require IATA-compliant markings and labelling, including:

  1. a "Class 9" Label;
  2. a "Cargo Aircraft Only" Label; and,
  3. an IATA Lithium Battery Handling Label/ Mark with the UN Number (Required for IB shipments only).

29. Which FedEx Express services can I use for UN 3090 and UN 3480 shipments?

You will be able to use FedEx Express service options that allow Inaccessible Dangerous Goods (IDG) shipments, and an IDG surcharge will apply.

30. What if I’m pre-approved for the UN 3090 Section II list?

Customers who ship lithium metal batteries (UN3090) with FedEx must be pre-approved by FedEx Express to comply with the FedEx operator variations in IATA DG Regulations. Customers who are currently pre-approved by FedEx on the UN 3090 Section II list will automatically be placed on the UN 3090 Section I pre-approved list.

31. What’s different about dangerous goods training for staff?

Depending on your staff’s current Dangerous Goods certification, additional training may be required. Staff handling shipments with UN 3090 or UN 3480 lithium batteries will need full Dangerous Goods training.

32. When can I see the new IATA lithium battery policy?

IATA published its new lithium battery policy in its Dangerous Goods Regulations Manual on 12 October 2016. You may purchase it directly from IATA at www.iata.org

33. What if my lithium batteries are UN 3091 or UN 3481 (lithium metal/ion batteries contained in or packed with equipment)?

The new policy changes will not impact UN3481 and UN3091 (lithium batteries packed with equipment and lithium batteries contained in equipment) except that after 1 January 2017 the UN number must be marked on the package adjacent to the IATA Lithium Battery Label, when the label is used.

34. I have multiple batteries shipping together. Should the power rating (Wh’s) or lithium content should be added together?

No, power rating or lithium content of a multiple cells/batteries shipment should not be added together. Only the cell/ battery with the highest power rating or lithium content should be used to identify the packing instruction type for your shipment.

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