How to pack lithium ion batteries in accordance with UN regulations


When shipping lithium ion batteries, there are some legal regulations you have to comply with to maintain safety. The United Nations describes all of them extensively in the ‘Recommendation on the transport of dangerous goods - Model Regulations’, which is updated and revised regularly. Want to know what legal aspects you have to follow as a LiB sender without going through 500 pages of regulations? To give you an overview of your legal responsibilities, we sum up the legal aspects of shipping LiB in this blog. 

What are the legal requirements your lithium ion battery packaging has to comply with?

The legal requirements of packaging lithium ion batteries are drawn up by the United Nations and are registered under the code UN3480. These regulations specify which materials you can use, what type of packaging is suitable for lithium ion batteries and what packaging instructions you have to follow. To inform you about these rules, I summarised the most important legal aspects below:

  1. The main responsibility in shipping LiB lies with the sending company and the transporting company.
  2. Only trained personnel —or somebody under the direct supervision of someone who is trained — is allowed to handle or transport dangerous goods. The sender has to train staff to be allowed to send out dangerous goods.
  3. Only transportation companies officially approved for delivering dangerous goods can be used for transport.
  4. The sending party is responsible for acquiring the right packaging and making sure that the packaging is in the right condition.
  5. The sending party is responsible for applying UN-marking, packing the product based on the instructions given by the packaging supplier, testing the packaging before use, labelling the box correctly, and providing the transportation company with the necessary documentation.


What happens when you don’t comply with the regulations?

If, as a manufacturer of lithium ion batteries, you do not comply with the regulations of the United Nations, you run the risk of accidents occurring during transport. Accidents which you are responsible for. Leakages could damage the vehicle, or exploding batteries could endanger people’s lives.
Although there is no UN-officer checking if you follow regulations, there is a high level of control within the logistics chain. As a manufacturer, you test the packaging provided to you by your packaging supplier. However, the transportation company will do the same with the product you deliver to them. A certified transportation company for dangerous goods will not accept wrongly packed dangerous goods which do not contain the proper documentation, labels or markings.

Within the logistics chain, you work together to enable safe transportation for dangerous goods. Together, you prevent accidents from happening, and people from getting injured in the process.

How do you make sure your packaging is safe and complies with the regulations?

To make sure the packaging complies with all regulations, there are five steps you have to take. An appropriately packed lithium ion battery is:

1. Classified
First, you need to classify which category of dangerous goods your product belongs to. Lithium ion batteries are classified under class 9: miscellaneous dangerous goods. These are goods that during transport present a danger or hazard to human health and safety, infrastructure and their means of transport. This classification tells you which documentation, labels and markings are required when shipping this particular product.

2. Packed
After classifying the product, it is essential to find a packaging partner who helps you create the right packaging for your product — one that helps you comply with all regulations. Together, you develop a packaging method and test it repeatedly. 
Before handing the package over to the transportation company, you need to make sure you have all the correct documentation for shipping lithium ion batteries.

3. Marked
If you are using a UN-Certified packaging this must be identified as such by having the proper marking in accordance with the UN regulations


4. Labelled

A dangerous goods shipment must be labelled in accordance with the regulations. This includes the UN code and the name for the goods, in this case "UN 3480 Lithium Ion Batteries" and the correct dangerous goods class hazard label. Other labelling is also applicable is some cases.

5. Documented

Before handing the package over to the transportation company, you need to make sure you have all the correct documentation for shipping lithium ion batteries.

If you meet these five requirements, your package is ready for transportation.

Do you want to know how other manufacturers organise this process and prepare their lithium ion batteries for transport? In our customer case, we explain how we helped one of our customers with the shipment and return of lithium ion batteries on a global level.

Want to learn from their experience? Take a look at their customer case and learn how we helped them reduce logistic costs with a compliant lithium ion battery packaging solution. Download the free case here:

Download the Lithium-ion Battery customer case

Find out how we reduced our customer's cost of logistics and environmental impact with an optimized and certified Lithium-ion Battery packaging solution