Lithium batteries: Transport only with certificate

Picture of a lithium ion battery.
Lithium batteries are the basis for electric mobility. And not only that: Lithium batteries have become an integral part of our everyday life. It goes without saying that they have to be transported. But these transports involve some risks. For this reason, the regulations for transporting lithium batteries were tightened at the beginning of the year.

Manufacturers are only allowed to put tested batteries on the market. For them to be allowed to be transported at all, they must pass various tests, which are then recorded in the so-called UN 38.3 report of the United Nations. However, since there are still many batteries from dubious sources on the road, the hazardous goods law reacts with a new documentation obligation.

Since 1 January 2020, manufacturers and distributors of lithium batteries have been obliged to submit the UN 38.3 report along the supply chain. However, this test summary does not have to be carried along during transport, but manufacturers and distributors must make it available on request. All batteries manufactured after 30 June 2003 are affected.

Everyday life would be unthinkable without it

Lithium batteries are now used in many everyday items. The new requirement applies to lithium ion and metal batteries regardless of the size of the battery. A look at corporate giveaways, for example, will be exciting: the power bank, the flashing little gadget, the Bluetooth speaker – they all need the report if they are to be sent. In addition, there are notebooks, tablets or smartphones that need to be sent.

According to the Fachverband der Bauelemente Distribution (FBDi), the correct classification and preparation for shipment are important for smooth transport. The requirements to be met also depend on the nominal energy of a lithium ion battery or the lithium content in the lithium metal battery. For lithium-ion batteries with a nominal energy of less than 100 Wh or 20 Wh per cell and for lithium metal batteries with a lithium content of up to 2 g or 1 g per cell, simplified transport in accordance with IATA-DGR and ADR is possible.

For damaged lithium batteries or cells special conditions for packaging and shipping must be observed: In addition to the marking required for regular shipping, it is absolutely necessary to mark the package with the words “Damaged/defective lithium ion batteries or lithium metal batteries”.

Detailed information on the UN 38.3 test series and the new requirement for a UN 38.3 test summary is available from the Lithium Battery Service on its website. There is also an overview of the information to be provided in the future.


Daniel Mahnken
Daniel Mahnken is a Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Saloodo!. As a qualified journalist, writing is practically in his blood. After studying sports journalism, he wanted to become Germany’s Next Sports Commentator, but then he discovered logistics and has been stuck with it ever since.

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