Lithium batteries (UN3090, UN3091, UN3480, UN3481) Regulatory changes related to lithium batteries are dynamic. While UPS works to keep abreast of these changes, note that regulations applicable to lithium batteries change often, both internationally and domestically in the United States.
About lithium batteries Because lithium batteries are designed to provide high levels of power, the electrical energy in these batteries is significant, meaning that such batteries can sometimes generate a great amount of heat if short circuited. In addition, the chemical contents of these batteries may catch fire if damaged or if improperly designed or assembled. For these reasons, there are safety regulations controlling the shipment of these types of batteries. Shippers must conform to the applicable regulations published by PHMSA and/or IATA. While all lithium batteries are classified as hazardous materials (also referred to as dangerous goods), there are exceptions for common small sizes of these batteries that simplify the rules for shipping these items by air. UPS accepts such common lithium batteries under those reduced regulations only when the batteries are packed with or contained in equipment. For UPS, all air shipments of lithium ion or metal batteries shipped without equipment (UN3090, UN3480) must be fully regulated as dangerous goods, which requires a UPS Dangerous Goods contract. This document describes the rules for shipping small lithium batteries packed with or contained in equipment for which UPS does not require a UPS Dangerous Goods contract.
Lithium battery types There are two major kinds of lithium batteries, both of which contain very high levels of energy: Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are rechargeable. • Sometimes called “secondary lithium batteries” • Includes lithium polymer (Li-Po) batteries • These batteries are often found in common electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops Lithium metal batteries are generally non-rechargeable. • Sometimes called “primary lithium batteries”
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