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How to safely pack and ship batteries

These days, sending a package that contains a separate battery or a product with a battery is more than just common. After all, almost any device that can be used for surfing the web, media, or even tools are powered by batteries. In this post you will learn can you ship batteries and products containing them to the desired locations, how you can do it, and also all additional things you need to know regarding the matter.


Products that contain batteries

As we have mentioned earlier, products that contain batteries are numerous. It is more likely to ship a product with a battery than a product without a battery. When sending this package, you need to properly secure it. Below, you can see which types of products do contain batteries in any form and therefore need special handling.

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Smartwatches
  • Laptops
  • Power tools
  • Drones
  • Some car equipment
  • Medical devices
  • To get a better idea, take a look at the backside of a product. If you see something like Lithium-ion or similar, that product has a battery inside. An obvious and much simpler method is if a device can operate without a power source, it already has a built-in battery!


    Is it allowed to ship batteries?

    Yes, it is allowed to ship batteries using major couriers in the United States. Keep in mind that all of the following do accept this form of shipment.

  • USPS
  • FedEx
  • DHL
  • UPS
  • Others may not be able to provide a proper shipment and may be unable to accept your parcel! The main difference here is that these giants in the realm of shipping have separate personnel that is trained to make sure battery shipments are protected and safe during the transport. They know how to handle those packages and they can make sure that the package won’t cause any issue over any period of time. Ordinary personnel in these companies isn’t trained for this purpose, hence your shipment will be handled by specialists. This applies to shipments over air, ground or sea.


    How to pack batteries properly

    Different couriers will have different requirements. However, all of them specify that you need to pack batteries in such a way that they cannot be damaged during the transport, the short circuit risk must be eliminated and you need to use non-conductive packaging.

    On the other, side, if you want to ship them using USPS you will need to follow USPS Packaging Instructions 9D. In this case scenario, you will need to use an ordinary package for domestic shipments. It can be soft and it doesn’t have to meet all UN specifications. But, it must be strong, durable and it must be completely sealed.

    If you are sending this type of package to another country, it must meet more rigorous requirements. For instance, it must be packed in a solid containers, it must have a battery mark and it is must state that folding the package must not be done in any case! Keep in mind that additional requirements may be applied.

    If we take a look at the PHMSA rules, we can add that all batteries must be shipped separately inside the main package or they must be located inside the devices. Also, you need to make sure that power on/off button cannot be pressed inside a package during the shipment.

    Additionally, according to IATA you should chip batteries that have 30% of the energy stored or under. This amount won’t damage the battery over a short period of time but it will decrease the risk of any potential risk.


    Requirements you must meet

    Below you can see main regulations that are identical for all couriers and that apply to the same shipments regardless of the variables. There are more specific requirements, each courier will provide, but these ones are generic.

  • If you send a package that contains over 35 kg of batteries, it must be approved by the national authority
  • Damaged batteries cannot be sent
  • You must package batteries to prevent short circuit while traveling
  • Lithium-ion waste should not be transported by air unless approved by the national authority
  • All packages that contain batteries in any form must be clearly labeled
  • Special packaging may be mandatory in some situations

  • How batteries work and why they explode?

    There are two main types of batteries you will likely transport. Below we will explain how they work and also why they are so dangerous to transport in the first place.

  • Lithium metal
  • In this case scenario, lithium is used as an anode. These batteries can produce between 1.5 and 3.7 V of power and they are very durable. They are common and they cannot be always shipped with mailing couriers. For example, DHL won’t accept this parcel.

  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • These batteries are commonly found in any portable device these days. They can be recharged many times before they must be replaced. Luckily, transporting them is much easier and almost all couriers will accept them, with special packages of course.

    All battery-related explosions are caused due to excess heat. It can occur when a battery is exposed to the heat source for a long period of time, or when heat is a side effect of the internal malfunction. The most common issue here is when negative and positive portions of the battery are damaged and the ions can move between these sections. Heat is generated as a byproduct and eventually the battery will explode. The size and the risk of explosion is based on the size of the battery, the power it contains, and also the damage or heat exposure.


    Important tips for sending batteries

    If you still want to ship batteries you will need to use the following tips. These are tips that should help you with the process and should protect the packages even more. They are something all major couriers in the United States will agree on.

  • Protect batteries inside a package in such a way that their terminals are isolated. They cannot make a short circuit.
  • Always use non-conductive materials to cover and isolate the batteries.
  • Each battery should be packaged separately.
  • Never place heavy weight items on the top of the batteries.
  • Place batteries away from conductive items tha5t can cause a short circuit.
  • Protect switches off the devices with batteries so they cannot be accidentally pressed while handling.
  • Always turn off a device before you ship it.
  • Never store batteries close to a heat source.
  • Damaged batteries must not be shipped in any form.
  • Make sure to use cushions to eliminate movement of the device inside a package to avoid accidental powering on.

    Conclusion

    As you were able to see, sending batteries is possible. However, it isn’t as easy as shipping another item. You will need to use the tips we have provided and you will need to make sure all batteries and all products containing batteries are well-protect at all times and they there is no risk of damaging the battery or short circuit. At the same time, make sure that batteries are far away from the heat sources.


    Guidelines from USPS, UPS, and FedEx to ship batteries

    FedEx——http://images.fedex.com/us/packaging/guides/BatteryShipments_fxcom.pdf

    UPS—https://www.ups.com/assets/resources/media/us_lithium_battery_regulations.pdf

    USPS—https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Can-I-Ship-Lithium-Batteries