A guest post by the Airforwarders Association. Original post can be found here.

Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly common. Production has grown to more than 7 billion cells in 2017 from about 3 billion cells in 2007. These batteries power devices used by nearly everyone in their daily lives, such as smartphones and wearable tech.

Because it is not always obvious that a device contains a lithium battery, and because some shippers do not recognize these batteries are classified as hazardous materials/dangerous goods (DG), the number of incidents of undeclared lithium batteries tendered to carriers has risen over time.

As an intermediary between shipper and carrier, the freight forwarder plays a crucial role in preventing undeclared DG from being offered to carriers. This is especially true when it comes to lithium batteries.


Some actions freight forwarders can take to advance this goal include:


  1. Creating awareness with handling staff to identify DG marks and labels, as well as commodity descriptions in shipping documentation, all of which may indicate the presence of lithium batteries;
  2. Instructing operations personnel to inquire regarding suspect commodities; and
  3. Encouraging sales and account managers to spread the message within the shipping community of the risks and requirements regarding lithium batteries.


For air shipments containing lithium batteries, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has provided a webpage with useful guidance materials.


Of course, the DG regulations applicable to lithium batteries are not specific to air freight alone; they must be adhered to for all modes of transport, including ocean.

The AfA encourages the freight forwarding community to familiarize itself with industry resources and continue to educate shippers in order to ensure safety and full compliance with these important regulations.