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New international lithium ion battery regulations effective April 1

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New rules designed to reduce risk and improve transportation safety.

On April 1, 2016, new restrictions on the international transportation of lithium ion batteries go into effect. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets dangerous goods regulations for the civil aviation sector, has enacted new rules intended to reduce risk and improve transportation safety by making these batteries more visible to all carriers, including UPS.

The rules do not apply to batteries included within a product such as a computer or a cellphone.

These regulations will affect customers who ship lithium ion batteries internationally via UPS Air services – any shipment with an origin and/or destination outside the United States. The rules do not apply to batteries included within a product such as a computer or a cellphone. These rules do not currently impact domestic air shipments, but U.S. regulations could mirror ICAO restrictions in the future.

Here's a summary of the new ICAO regulations, applicable to all air shipments with an origin and/or destination outside the United States: 

  • Passenger aircraft ban for lithium ion batteries: All international shipments of lithium batteries without equipment are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft. (ICAO indicates this is a temporary measure until controls are in place to mitigate transport risks to an acceptable level.) This limitation does not affect lithium ion batteries packed with or contained in equipment. All shipments of lithium ion batteries outside equipment must now carry a Cargo Aircraft Label (pictured above).
  • State of charge limits: A 30 percent state of charge (SOC) limit on lithium-ion cells and batteries, including Section II cells and batteries, will now apply. This does not apply to batteries packed with or contained in equipment.
  • Restrictions on package quantity: A shipper is not allowed to offer more than one Section II package (batteries only) per air consignment.
  • Restrictions on overpacks: Overpacks may contain no more than one Section II package (batteries only) – 8 cells or 2 batteries.
  • Battery package separation: A shipper must offer lithium battery shipments (batteries only) separately from other cargo.

Note: UPS anticipates that the U.S. Department of Transportation will update regulations applicable to domestic air shipments of lithium batteries. It is not known, however, when the D.O.T. will amend its U.S. domestic hazardous materials regulations.

For more details on the ICAO regulations, these amendments are detailed on the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) website.

For more information on countries where UPS delivers International Dangerous Goods, visit ups.com.

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