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?
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.
6. Is a power bank classified as a stand-alone battery?
The IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations do not specifically state if power banks should be classified as stand-alone batteries or batteries contained in equipment. For this reason, different airlines may apply different rules based on their own interpretation of the regulations. FedEx recommends that customers classify power banks as UN3480 stand-alone batteries.
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?
Please refer to Origins/ Destinations section.
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?
12. What paperwork is required to ship items with lithium batteries?
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?
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
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 lithium battery specialist team via 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
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.
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 0.3 g = 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?
Lithium 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?
Lithium metal batteries usually are non-rechargeable with a longer life than the normal alkaline batteries and are typically used in toys and cameras.