Cargo Disasters & Freight Horror Stories
Why Are Battery Products So Darn Hard to Ship?

Why Are Battery Products So Darn Hard to Ship?

Shipping battery products requires tremendous attention to detail. A successful shipment requires proper labeling and strict following of all necessary regulations.

5 mins read, 16 July 2020
Bookairfreight Key Takeaways

• Make sure to properly label and package your battery products. Failing to do so could cost millions!
• Air freight is more restrictive than ocean when it comes to shipping battery products and electronics.
• Work with experienced freight forwarders to make sure electronics are shipped safely.

Table of Contents:

Mistake 1 - Not Declaring That Your Goods Have Batteries
Mistake 2 - Not Understanding the Regulatory Differences of Each Mode of Transportation
Mistake 3 - Using Incorrect Labels and Improper Packaging
Mistake 4 - Failing To Show Testing Proofs
Mistake 5 - Failing to Comply With Weight and Battery Restrictions

Battery Explosions are very real guys!

They may not happen often, but when they do, they’ll cost you a fortune.

We know shipping battery products is a super painful process, so let’s simplify it! We’re going to tell you the top mistakes we’ve observed to avoid when shipping electronics.

Mistake 1️ - Not Declaring That Your Goods Have Batteries

In 2019, in the US alone, there were 5 cargo aircraft or airport accidents involving lithium battery explosions. In one of these cases a shipper failed to declare that there were batteries inside their goods.

Had the shippers made the proper declarations, they could have saved thousands of dollars spent compensating for the accident.

But, let’s backtrack a bit - why do shippers not declare the batteries in the goods?

If freight forwarders know that your goods have batteries in them, either they just refuse your shipment, or place a bunch of annoying rules to deal with.

And even though it can seem way easier to just not mention batteries, don’t do it! Don’t worry, by working with experienced freight forwarders you can safely ship your goods!

Mistake 2️ - Not Understanding the Regulatory Differences of Each Mode of Transportation

In international shipments, the regulations to ship dangerous goods differ from air freight to ocean freight, or even from one country to another.

Bookairfreight’s Tips:

For example, lithium batteries are ONLY allowed in cargo aircraft but come with weight and quantity restrictions.

Additionally, during last mile delivery, there are multiple types of transportation (truck or rail) involved to ship dangerous goods - the regulations may differ as well! 

So, for a shipper - it is very very important to know that these differences exist and partner with a reliable freight forwarder who can ensure the shipment is smooth. 

✈️  Air Freight

IATA’s Regulations on Shipping Lithium Batteries

ICAO’s Regulations on Shipping Lithium Batteries

🚢   Ocean Freight

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) 

🚚 🚂 Road and Rail (In the US only) 

Code of Federal Regulations

Mistake 3️ - Using Incorrect Labels and Improper Packaging 

Packaging doesn’t just mean securing the final carton with tape. It also involves labelling, which makes the handling personnel aware of the necessary precautions they need to take.

Examples of labelling include the following:

Lithium Battery Label Hazardous Class 9 Label Cargo Aircraft Only Label
lithium-batteries hazardous class 9 caution label for shipping cargo aircraft only label for shipping

Use the wrong labels or forget sticking the labels - freight forwarders would not have taken the precautionary measures as they didn’t know, and in the event of an accident it’ll be a literal disaster. 

What happens if you fail to label and pack your goods properly?

You’re opening your company to serious financial penalties - losses and damages may cost in the thousands if not millions!

Mistake 4️ - Failing To Show Testing Proofs

International transportation and general regulatory bodies like IATA, and the UN have specific requirements on shipping and handling electronics and batteries that the freight carriers follow. 

Commonly airlines and forwarders ask for proofs like an MSDS Report and UN 38.3 Test Certificate - these need to be submitted for a shipment to get loaded onto the ship or aircraft.

MSDS Report UN38.3 Test Certificate
msds report UN3.8 Test Certificate

What happens if you don’t have them?

You may get fined, your freight forwarders may refuse your shipment, or customs will not grant clearance - all of which can cost your company a lot of money.

Mistake 5️ - Failing to Comply With Weight and Battery Restrictions

Wait what, there are restrictions on shipping battery products?

Yes my friend, and in fact the rules are so complex and strict that are just super hard to wrap your head around it. 

The packaging and labelling requirements for battery products are set by the UN and they are pretty complicated, and sadly, you have to follow them properly.

But don’t worry, we simplify and break it down to make them crystal clear for your future battery product shipments. 

Head on over to How to Ship Lithium Batteries to learn about the exact packaging and labelling rules along with other things you can do to prevent these mistakes.

How to Ship Lithium Batteries?

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Rajitha Reniguntla

Rajitha Reniguntla is a supply chain enthusiast from Hong Kong. With a curious mind, she's an avid learner carrying a knack for exploring and breaking down complex ideas. She loves to learn about new things and always aims to enhance the customer experience. Outside of work, she enjoys cycling, doodling and listening to podcasts!

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