2021 Lithium Battery Guidance Document: Transport of Lithium Metal and Lithium Ion Batteries

Many of you may be familiar with IATA’s annual lithium battery publication called the Lithium Battery Guidance Document. This is published every year and is often updated and is a handy reference guide for anyone who wants to ship lithium batteries or lithium cells by air.

They list key concepts and often update those concepts that are essential to understanding the scope of the lithium battery regulations. For example, one of the most important ideas outlined in the lithium battery guidance document is the definition of a battery itself and the term “equipment”. They make it clear that things like battery packs and other electronics whose sole purpose or primary purpose is to provide power to another device those are not to be considered “equipment” under UN 3481, rather they are batteries under UN3480. This makes a big difference when it comes time to ship them as UN 3480 batteries are prohibited aboard passenger aircraft and must be limited to a 30% state of charge on Cargo Aircraft.

Another important update this year in 2021 is information on the UN Manual of Tests And Criteria lithium battery test certificate. This is a new rule that’s been in the works for a while and it requires manufacturers of lithium batteries to provide supply chain partners with the test certificate proving that the battery was tested appropriately according to UN standards. It is not a transportation document and it is not mandatory to include it with any shipping papers although anybody in the supply chain has the right to request it.  See our article for more details

You will also see references in the guidance document to a resource called Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines or LBSG. This is not a regulatory document but a book that IATA sells to the public. As with other IATA for-sale products they create their own internal reference numbers which have nothing to do with the regulations. There is nothing prohibiting them from doing this; of course, they can create any reference they want as long as it’s correct.

For compliance purposes, you have to ensure that your shipment complies with the ICAO Technical Instructions as they are published in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.

Transportation Development Group (TDG) LLC can always help you with lithium battery shipping questions and training, so please reach out to us if you have any questions at support@dgtraining.com.