Lithium-ion Battery Pack – UN3481 or UN3480

Is a lithium-ion battery pack considered UN3481, Lithium-ion batteries contained in equipment, or UN3480, Lithium-ion batteries? This is a question that arises from time to time from our clients, most recently last week. 

A client called our helpdesk line to get clarification on how to classify a lithium-ion battery pack he was shipping. He said this particular battery pack will be used for electric vehicles. I explained to him that battery packs are considered batteries, not contained in equipment. As per packing instruction 966 of the IATA Regulations, the definition of an equipment is a device or apparatus for which the lithium cells or batteries will provide electrical power for its operation. The easiest way I can explain this is that a laptop would be considered UN3481. The lithium-ion battery inside the laptop is providing power to the actual laptop (equipment). The battery inside that laptop is classified as UN3480.  

My client explained that the battery pack would be used to charge a vehicle in case the battery dies in the car. I advised him that this would be similar to a power bank that we carry to charge our cell phones. This is a power bank for an electric car. Meaning it acts like a battery. He said that’s exactly the purpose of this battery pack. The casing and wires don’t make it an “equipment”; it would be a stand-alone battery. He agreed and will be shipping it as UN3480.

Sometimes we overthink how an item should be classified. However, if you break it down into a common everyday commodity, it becomes straightforward.  

For more information on Lithium Batteries, visit our Help Center and read our FAQ.

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Hazard Class 9 – Lithium Batteries, Non-Worded,
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Shipping Lithium Batteries by Ground (49 CFR)
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Racheal Mani

Racheal Mani

Racheal Mani, based out in our Delta, B.C. office, has over 12 years of experience working under different auspices of federal, provincial, and municipal regulatory framework. She specializes in TDG Clear Language, IATA, IMDG, and WHMIS 2015 training. Racheal’s extensive knowledge in the dangerous goods industry is driven from her hands-on experience from packaging of dangerous goods for all modes of transport and her consistent liaison with ICC clients to ensure dangerous goods consignments meet the applicable regulatory requirements prior to transport.