Lithium Battery Shipping; New Regulations Starting January 1st 2019
Beginning January 1st 2019 there will be new rules and regulations regarding the shipping of Lithium Batteries. As you may know, there has been many issues caused by Lithium batteries in transit. Everything from phones catching fire to laptops igniting. The DOT / PHMSA has created new regulations for the transportation of Lithium Batteries. Everyone from shipping stores to regular people sending a prepaid return must be compliant to these new regulations.
In order to ship batteries it must be done properly and legally to prevent hazardous situations for both the carriers and the person receiving the package . To do so incorrectly can or will lead to the packages being refused by our staff or by the carrier. Batteries shipped in an unsafe, non-compliant way can lead to penalties, fines or even legal consequences for you, the shipper. The old Lithium Battery labels have been done away with and have been replaced with new labels that tell the handlers exactly what type of Lithium Battery is in the shipment. The carriers need to know if the battery shipping alone, if it is shipping with the equipment that it powers, or is it in the equipment that it powers. These factors determine what label goes on the box, and can change how the package is shipped.
All batteries regardless of type must be wrapped in a way that protects against short circuiting. The contacts must be protected against making connection with anything other than non conductive packaging materials. Each shipper or shipping location may have different rules and regulations to follow. For example; A shipment sent to you via UPS/FedEx may not be permitted to be returned the same way. Most companies shipping batteries do so properly, but there are a few that do not. Companies that do so properly, are trained, licensed and are permitted by their contracts to ship with the carriers. They must follow the restrictions for their account or location.
For our location, we are limited to how many batteries we can ship, how large the batteries are, and how they can be shipped. We are permitted to ship a maximum of two batteries in a shipment. If they are Lithium ION we must know the watt hours (strength) of the battery. Our maximum is 100 watt hours. If you have a laptop, vacuum, or any other electronic that exceeds the 100 watt hour limit, we are not permitted to accept it. Regardless of how it got to you, we (nor you) are permitted to tender it to either UPS or FedEx from our location.
Having a prepaid label means nothing except the company has sent it to you. Unfortunately, it does not always mean that we can accept it. The company you are returning to may just recommend sending your return at the nearest shipping location. We may be the closest, but we may be prohibited from accepting it.
If we ship something that does not follow the DOT battery regulations it can cost our approval to ship with a carrier, so please understand when we ask you questions about your shipment. It is for our protection and yours. If you read the carriers tariffs and regulations (yes you are supposed to do so) you will see that you are the shipper of these packages and you must be aware of what you are shipping. You must be aware and know what you can and cannot ship. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always simple. Since we accept such a wide range of items from a wide range of customers, the carriers hold us to a much higher level of restrictions than they may hold you. We give the carriers several hundred boxes a day, so they need to know that each one is correctly labeled and within the guidelines for the safety of everyone who may come in contact with the package along its journey.
We ask for your understanding and to have patience with the staff as they try to help you work through everything. If your package requires a new label (the old labels are no longer valid) you can purchase a new one from us. If you have a Lithium Battery, it must be in a crush proof packaging. Padded mailers are not crush proof. You must protect the battery from damage, in doing so it protects the handlers, and the shipping system.
As people recycle packaging, we are seeing more and more people bring in used cartons with the battery labels on them. If that label is damaged or covered in any way the package can and will be refused by the carrier. You, the shipper, could be liable for improper labeling of hazardous materials. After all, that is what the Lithium Batteries are. They are considered Hazardous Materials and must be packaged and shipped correctly.
Please understand that if you bring a box to ship with a hazardous label on it we are not permitted to use it. We cannot cover or remove the label. If you wish to reuse a carton that has a battery label on it please remove it entirely prior to coming in. The carriers do not permit us to cover these labels, as it could be construed as us hiding a hazmat label. We do not recommend using any carton with old labels or stickers anymore, as too many cartons have information or labeling that can cause concern. If the contents were hazmat or dangerous goods the carton cannot be reused.
Just because it shipped to you, does not mean you can ship it back. The shippers may be licensed for packing and shipping hazardous materials. Just because they give you a prepaid label does not mean that you can ship it from our location (or locations like ours). You may be required to ship directly from the carriers terminals (not the retails counters) In some cases, some items are simply not returnable because they are fully regulated hazardous materials.
When you ship from our location (or any shipping location) please be aware of the contents, please understand we ask about the contents because we have to know what you are shipping can legally be shipped from our location. Be safe, be aware, be careful about your shipments. Fully disclose all the contents for your safety, the safety of our staff and the entire shipping system.