Tom is here, an experienced engineer for China’s lithium battery industry. Today I’d like to talk about shipping lithium batteries from China to the USA.
Lithium battery type
Lithium batteries are increasingly popular due to their high energy density, high voltage, and wide operating temperature range. These batteries come in three main types: lithium-ion batteries, lithium metal batteries, and lithium battery packs (combinations of multiple cells). The lithum-ion battery voltage is from 2.4 Volt. to 3.7 volt. The lithium metal battery voltage include 1.5v, 2.9v, 3.0v, 3.6v, 3.9v. The lithium battery packs voltage is from 1.5V to 600 Volt (More cells make up via in series).
From the perspective of chemical materials, lithium-ion batteries include lithium iron phosphate (Lifepo4), ternary lithium (NiCoLi or NiCoAl), lithium cobalt oxide （LCO), lithium titanate( LTO), and lithium manganate(LMO). Now the most popular are lithium iron phosphate and ternary lithium. Lithium metal batteries include the popular lithium thionyl chloride and lithium manganese dioxide battery. And the less commonly used lithium iron sulfide, lithium copper sulfide, lithium sulfur dioxide, and lithium carbon tetrafluoride batteries.
Lithium battery transportation rules
Given their hazardous nature, shipments of these batteries regulate by the UN “Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.” This classification system includes UN3480, UN3481, UN3090, UN3091, UN3171 and UN3536. Similarly, other governing bodies, such as IMDG, RID, ADR, and IAGA-DGR, also have their own rules regarding the shipping of lithium batteries.
Manufacturers, factories, and suppliers in China must abide by the country’s Import and Export Commodity Inspection Law before they can ship dangerous goods containers safely abroad. All packages are marked with a red diamond label. What are any other hazards associated with the carton? Furthermore, all shippers must register with a designated Chinese government office before transporting goods outside China.
All goods shipped overseas meet specific criteria such as correct labeling, packing in appropriate ways for different types of battery cells, and electrical systems turned off/disconnected when applicable. Furthermore, documents such as air waybills or packing lists may also be required when transporting goods abroad, so it is always essential to check beforehand what kind of paperwork need for specific shipments.
Lithium battery transportation method
Like other batteries, lithium battery transportation includes air, sea, truck and rail, courier, and postal parcels. However, there are three most feasible ways to transport air, sea, and express. According to the latest import policy of the United States, the buyer is required to bear the import tax and fee except for the sample (less than 120 USD), which has no tax and fee.
Express delivery has the fastest timeliness. Usually, 3-7 business days, door-to-door service, and the cost are also the highest. It is suitable for samples or small batches, and the weight is less than 200kg. The most commonly used courier companies include DHL, FedEx, and UPS.
The timeliness of air freight is second, usually 5-9 working days, and the arrival service requires the buyer to pick up the goods at the airport (of course, you can also entrust the local freight forwarder to complete it), and the freight less than express accordingly. It is suitable for small batches, less than 500kg.
Sea freight has the slowest timeliness, usually 30-40 days, and the arrival service requires the buyer to pick up the goods at the port (you can entrust the freight forwarder to complete it). The cost is the cheapest, and it uses large quantities of products with a weight greater than 200kg and does not require high timeliness.
Postal parcels are the cheapest transportation mode and have a longer time limit. However, because lithium batteries are dangerous goods, for safety reasons, lithium batteries are usually not accepted for postal transportation.
When you import lithium batteries from China to the United States, learn about the latest local policies, choose a suitable supplier, and communicate detailed product and order details.
First, you need to check the MSDS, UN38.3 report of the product,
Secondly, according to your timelines, budget, and the supplier’s product delivery date, choose the appropriate mode of transportation, express, air, or sea.
Again, once the supplier completes the export customs clearance, and completes the importer security filling(ISF), after shipment, you need to get the courier number, air waybill, sea waybill, and estimated arrival time at the port and follow up in time.
Fourth, if it is air or sea freight, it is necessary to complete import customs clearance in time, pay customs duties, and pick up the goods from the dock after arriving at the port.
Of course, all of these can do by your Chinese supplier and local forwarder for export and import, respectively, and you only need to pay the corresponding fees.
Shipping lithium batteries from China to the USA requires careful. Due to their hazardous nature and regulations from various governing bodies, they require specific labeling, packaging, documentation processes, etc. To be carried out correctly to make it safely through customs control points at either end of the shipment process.