Shipping dangerous goods (Restricted Merchandise) to trade shows

May-01-2018 | by: TWI Group

Lithium battery technology has greatly evolved over the years and they have become the most preferred energy source to power goods. Even though lithium batteries are used in many electronic devices and toys, they are considered to be dangerous goods, just like propane, gasoline and other. At all times, they should be packaged and shipped to trade shows in compliance with international air transport regulations.


A comprehensive definition:

A lithium battery is a type of battery used for low-power, high-reliability, and long-life applications. There are two mains lithium batteries categories.

  1. Lithium metal battery contains metallic lithium and features a higher energy density than other non-rechargeable batteries. They have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode.
  2. Lithium ion battery is rechargeable and features a higher energy density. The lithium is only present in an ionic form in the electrolyte.


Cause for concern:

One of the major risks for Lithium batteries is short-circuit, they can overheat and cause a fire. This kind of fire produces irritating and toxic fumes and are also difficult to put out. All lithium batteries or cells must be packaged separately to prevent batteries to come in contact with other batteries, metal objects, or conductive surfaces.



Requirements when shipping lithium batteries to trade shows:

All lithium batteries must meet the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria requirements.  They must successfully have passed the UN safety testing and be packaged in a manner that prevents short circuits and other damage that could lead to failure. Defective, swollen, damaged or leaking batteries cannot be shipped.

The limits for U.S. domestic ground shipping are generally up to 25 grams lithium metal per lithium metal battery and up to 300-watt hours for lithium ion batteries.

Lithium ion and lithium metal batteries can only be shipped by aircraft if it meets certain conditions:

  • Ensuring that battery terminals are protected;
  • Ensuring that a state of charge no more than 30% capacity;
  • Packing them separately from everything else;
  • Lithium metal batteries also have an extra requirement, they must include a statement that the package should not be loaded onto passenger aircraft.


When you ship smaller size lithium batteries to trade shows by air, they must have marking and documentation such as:

  • An indication that the package contains ‘lithium metal’ or ‘lithium ion’ cells or batteries;
  • An indication that the package is to be handled with care and that flammable hazard exists if the package is damaged;
  • An indication that special procedures must be followed in the event the package is damaged, including inspection and repacking if necessary;
  • An indication of the UN number(s);
  • A telephone number for additional information.


Depending on your industry, you might ship to trade shows electronic devices such as laptop computers, camera, mobile phone, watch, medical equipment, power tools, and others that all contain lithium batteries.

Make sure the lithium batteries you are shipping have been safety tested and remember that all lithium batteries shipped by airplane must be declared.

Contact TWI Group for more information on our trade show shipping service.