On Jan. 1, 2013, new regulations for shipping lithium batteries become mandatory for all international air shipments. (New federal regulations for shipping lithium batteries within the United States are expected to be published this December.)
The regulations affect many companies since lithium batteries are prevalent in high-tech goods and in communications equipment and automobiles. Shippers are responsible for meeting these regulations and may face penalties and fines for noncompliance.
A major risk of shipping lithium batteries is a short-circuit while in transit. So, all batteries must be packed to eliminate this possibility. Batteries should be individually wrapped or bagged, and terminals should be covered with tape. The International Air Transport Association provides tips and guidance at iata.org. (Enter "lithium batteries" into the search function.) Additional information can also be found in UPS's PDF guide.
This story was originally published under the headline "Shipping Batteries" in the Summer 2012 print edition of Compass.