A laptop computer contains a lithium ion battery. It is rechargeable and has a watt-hour reading of less than 100 wh. It is considered dangerous goods, UN3481 “Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment.” When shipped by air it is governed by IATA Packing Instruction 967, General Requirements and Section II Excepted lithium ion cells and batteries. If it meets the requirements listed therein, and it probably will, then it becomes “Excepted” meaning it is excepted from most dangerous goods rules. It is, however, not excepted from certain rules.
There are two types of packages possible, with two different scenarios:
Scenario 1: A package with a total of 1 or 2 lithium ion batteries contained inside of or with laptops.
There are no markings or labels required on the box other than the shipping label. But the box itself must be of such strength as to not break or allow the batteries to come out or expel fumes, in other words, a good strong industrial box.
Scenario 2: A package with a total of 3 or more lithium ion batteries contained inside of or with laptops.
There is a label required on the box (see below), and the box itself must be of such strength as to not break or allow the batteries to come out or expel fumes, in other words, a good strong industrial box.
Additional Requirements for Scenario 2:
A document is also required indicating the following
• The package contains lithium ion batteries
• The package must be handled with care and that a flammability hazard exists if the packaged is damaged
• If the package is damaged then special procedures including inspection and repacking may be necessary
• A telephone number to call for additional information
Labeling and Air Waybill Instructions
1. If you use a forwarder or courier, they will write these items on the air waybill for you (you must provide the phone number, of course)
2. If you consign the shipment directly to the airline, you may write these items on the air waybill yourself
3. Note that the above rules apply per package; therefore, if you have multiple laptops and you should choose to prepare multiple packages, 2 laptops in each package, it does not matter how many boxes you have, then you need only comply with Scenario 1. But if you wish to put all of the laptops in one box, or several laptops in each of several boxes, then you must comply with Scenario 2.
Learn more about how Quick International Courier can help with your High-Technology shipments.
Technical Guide: Lithium Batteries - 2013 IATA Packing Instructions Explained
Technical Guide: Lithium Batteries - Packaging and Documenting Shipments
Blog post: Significant Changes to the IATA DGR 54th Edition (2013)