Battery transportation

What is battery transportation?

The word “battery” covers a wide range of products, including small AA or AAA batteries, accumulators, rechargeable batteries, etc. concerns both new and used products. All batteries are considered as hazardous products, including lithium and lithium-ion () batteries. The only difference is that lithium-ion batteries can be recharged. Metal lithium ones cannot.

Transporting lithium-based batteries requires strict compliance with a plethora of regulations. Applying these regulations limits the risk of fire, explosion and pollution. Batteries cannot be delivered in standard packages.


Specificities of battery transportation

  • The partner having commissioned is responsible for the goods, and must verify compliance with packaging, labelling and monitoring procedures.
  • International regulations are updated on an annual , and modifications are made throughout the year.
  • Regulations state that dispatch is possible with a special label indicating “plane cargo only”.
  • As for multimodal battery transport, the main means of transportation is considered for choosing which regulations to apply and respect.
  • Lithium batteries cannot be delivered to pick-up points.
  • Their delivery is also prohibited to a large number of foreign countries.


Examples and practical applications

National regulations pertaining to battery transportation

In addition to European laws and regulations, France has a set of standards to add to those required on an international level. Hence the logistician being obligated to look into lithium conditions in force in the countries they transit through, store in or deliver to.

Lithium-ion or metal battery transportation 

Different legislation is applied to the various types of lithium batteries. Knowing the rules in place is important, as they determine what kind of transport is possible - and therefore what costs are incurred. Lithium-ion batteries (lithium polymer) can be recharged, and they are the ones which require particularly strict regulations. Lithium-ion battery regulations take their nominal power into consideration, calculated in watts/hour (Wh). This information must be inscribed on the batteries’ packaging. If it does not appear, the transporter must ask the manufacturer to adapt the information displayed on the packaging so it complies with regulations.

New lithium metal batteries are non-rechargeable and available in various packaging types:

  • The packaging exclusively contains batteries;
  • The batteries are sent separately from the equipment associated with them;
  • The batteries are included with the equipment they are associated with.


Battery transportation in figures in France

  • 1,434 million batteries and accumulators sold in 2018.
  • This represents 252,091 tonnes.
  • 46.7% collected, for a goal of 50% in 2021. [1]


Regulatory cornerstones

  • The ADR, or European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road, signed by 48 countries.
  • The specific Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) code, drafted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for via air freight.
  • The guide issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as well as its rules applicable by partners within the and by airlines.
  • The guide known as the Lithium Battery Guidance Document, detailing all the regulations currently in force.
  • The packaging instructions number 965.

For lithium battery maritime transportation: the IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) code, with its 39-18 amendment applicable since 1 January 2020, valid for two years.


[1] Source of the figures:,46%2C7%20%25%20en%202018