USPS Revises Rules for Lithium Battery Mail Shipments

Posted on 1/23/2015 by Roger Marks

On Monday, January 26, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will publish revised standards for shipping lithium batteries in the mail by ground and air. Notification of the revised lithium battery rules will appear in the Federal Register and the new standards will be published as a revision to USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

The forthcoming USPS revisions are the latest in a series of regulatory updates for lithium battery shippers, including new standards under US DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR 171-181), IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations for air shipping, and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).  

The new USPS lithium battery rules will harmonize the Postal Service’s standards for accepting packages containing lithium batteries with new DOT rules that dramatically changed the requirements that apply to even small shipments of lithium batteries.

Namely, the new USPS rules will make the following changes, affecting businesses and individuals that ship lithium batteries by mail: 

·         Size of lithium-ion cells and batteries must now be expressed in Watt-hours
·         Adopting separate shipping descriptions for lithium metal and lithium ion batteries
·         New requirements for shipping small lithium cells and batteries contained in equipment
·         New marking requirements and options for lithium battery shipments.

The USPS lithium battery rules will largely mirror the recent adoption of new standards by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials (PHMSA) on August 6, 2014. Read more about the major changes to DOT rules under this PHMSA rulemaking here.  

The final rule is slated for publication in the Federal Register on January 26. The specific revisions to USPS Publication 52 will be published in a Postal Bulletin on February 5, 2015, and will be incorporated into Publication 52 in March of this year.

Mandatory Compliance with New Lithium Rules Starts February 6

If you ship lithium batteries —with-equipment, in-equipment, or by themselves—new DOT, IATA, and USPS rules will begin affecting your shipments this year. DOT’s new rules are mandatory starting February 6, and IATA’s 56th ed. Dangerous Goods Regulations standards for lithium batteries are already in effect. 

Learn the latest rules with convenient, specialized training for lithium battery shippers. The Shipping Lithium Batteries Online Course covers the latest rules, and can be accessed 24/7.  This comprehensive course provides general awareness, security awareness, and function-specific training to satisfy US DOT’s three-year training requirement for lithium battery shippers. For training led by an expert Lion instructor, enroll in the upcoming live Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar on February 10.

Tags: hazmat, lithium batteries, new rules, shipping

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