Why using a freight forwarder smooths out importing Lithium Batteries to the UK

December 3, 2021 /

The modern world is heavily reliant on Lithium batteries, they are essential for powering almost everything we use, from mobile phones to electric cars. Compared to traditional batteries they’re smaller, have low discharge rates, fast recharge times and can have up to 25 times the energy density compared to the type of battery you’d normally find in a car. However Lithium is not the most stable element and there are strict regulations in place when transporting them.

What issues come with shipping Lithium batteries?

When Lithium Ion batteries fail, they can do so in a spectacular fashion, the most infamous examples resulting in the Boeing 787 grounding after Japan Airlines had issues with their aircraft and the Samsung Note 7 smart phone being completely withdrawn because of a battery fault, forcing the recall of 2.5 million phones. In fact they’re classified as dangerous goods when transported by air and belong to the IATA * DRG 9 Class.

The unique safety issues with lithium ion batteries can be linked to the materials used being flammable and unstable at elevated temperatures. This can be compounded by flawed battery design, inadequate venting, poor manufacturing quality and physical impact can cause the battery to overheat, and in exceptional circumstances, combust.

But it’s likely that lithium batteries will appear in a large selection of the products imported into the UK and until safer battery options are developed, importers must comply with the regulations in place to ensure the safety of ships, lorries, aircraft and the people charged with bringing them to the UK.

* DRG – Dangerous Goods Regulation (For further information, feel free to check the official website: IATA Dangerous goods).

Shipping Pre-Requisites

If you’re planning to ship lithium batteries by air then you’d need to ensure that they’re manufactured to the standards set by the latest IATA DGR.

Your supplier must provide you or your forwarding agent with a UN.38.3 or UN Transportation Testing (UN / DOT 38.3) for every product manufactured or sold by them. This is one of the most important documents that the airline will require before booking space for your freight.

Some of the UN numbers that have been classified for packing instructions 966 and 969, Section II also include the requirement for a 1.2 meter drop test for the filled package containing batteries. Another very important document is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for lithium batteries.

Some companies will also request a shipper’s declaration for Section II lithium batteries, a statement signed by your supplier describing the contents of the shipment, the classifications, the complete contact information of the supplier, as well as the consignee’s.

Carriers will request and review any documentation supporting the shipment prior to booking space on a flight. Your supplier and forwarder must work hand in hand to ensure a smooth and fast export process.

As an importer, you need to have very good communication with your freight forwarder, which will save you a lot time, money, and troubles.

How Supreme Freight can help manage the process

As a professional freight forwarder, our job is not just to ship cargo from one place to another, we also need to stay close to the interests of our customers. We will work with you to ensure that the shipment progresses from the supplier to your door smoothly and professionally.

There might be situations where suppliers are not familiar with the process of exporting goods containing Lithium batteries as it remains the responsibility of the supplier to ensure that all air transport requirements are met.

Supreme Freight will work with suppliers to ensure that:

  • The cargo is not prohibited for air transport
  • The goods are properly classified, marked and labelled
  • The goods are correctly packed in accordance with the instructions for dangerous goods
  • All relevant documents have been correctly issued and the shipping declaration has been signed.

We will make sure everything is up to standard BEFORE the cargo is removed, saving you a lot of troubles.

If you require further information about how Supreme Freight can handle this all professionally for you, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.