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Beware of Fakes

You know by now that lithium batteries can be dangerous when not shipped correctly. Shippers must pack lithium batteries to prevent short circuits, movement, and activation during transport.

Regulators have also put into place specific testing according to the UN Manual of Test and Criteria Part 38.3. Manufacturers must test the batteries before they are marketed and shipped. Any downstream shipper must have a copy of the test certificate proving they passed the required tests.

But what if they fake the document or just don’t have one to begin with?

In March 2023, Transport Canada conducted a study on OEM (original equipment manufacturer) lithium batteries and generic versions.

The full study can be found

Transport Canada purchases an OEM battery, then 5 from third party manufacturers. The results of the tests are alarming.

All OEM batteries passed the UN38.3 testing (Yah!).

The third-party batteries did not fare as well. Half of the batteries tested failed to meet the UN criteria. In addition, when asked, most could not produce the original UN 38.3 certificate. In addition, the marking and labeling on the batteries were not correct.

What are some takeaways?

If you are buying a replacement battery, whether it be for home or work, buy the OEM version. Yes, they will cost more, but that is because the manufacturer is doing things right.

If you choose to purchase the knock-off brand, do your research, and ask for the UN 38.3 certification. It is not only important for transportation safety, but at your workplace or home as well. The knock-offs are more likely to short circuit and catch fire (remember those hoverboards years ago).

Need to understand more about the requirements for shipping lithium batteries, give our Regulatory Experts a call at 855.734.5469 or send us an email, we’re happy to help.

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Karrie Ishmael, CDGP

Karrie Ishmael has been with ICC since 1988. She has contributed to ICC's growth in various capacities, including customer service, sales, and marketing. In her current role as ICC's Senior Regulatory Expert and SDS author, Karrie conducts hazardous materials training classes in 49 CFR, IATA, IMDG, TDG along with OSHA and WHMIS hazard communication courses. When not training, she writes safety data sheets for customers to comply with North American and European requirements. She actively participates in many associations, including DGAC, COSTHA and is the former chair of SCHC’s OSHA Alliance Committee.