How to Send Batteries in the Post

The postal service is not allowed to ship any hazardous materials, including batteries. Lithium batteries are considered dangerous goods because they can explode under certain conditions.

This article explains what you can and cannot send in the mail. It also provides tips on safely packaging items containing lithium batteries for mailing or shipment by other courier services.

What you need to know about shipping batteries:

When sending batteries in the mail, it is essential to know the type of battery and the packaging requirements. There are three types of batteries: nickel-cadmium (NiCd), nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), and lithium-ion (Li-ion).

Batteries must be packaged appropriately to prevent any potential damages. Improper packaging could cause the battery to short-circuit and start a fire. For this reason, it is essential to follow the specific guidelines for the type of battery you are shipping.

Nickel-cadmium batteries:

NiCd batteries are the oldest type of battery and are no longer used in most electronic devices. They can be shipped in the mail, but they must be placed in a special package called a UN3481 battery box.

Nickel-metal-hydride batteries:

NiMH batteries are more common than NiCd batteries used in most handheld electronic devices. They can be safely packaged in a regular cardboard box.

Lithium-ion batteries:

Li-ion batteries are used in most laptops, mobile phones, and many other devices. There are restrictions for sending these batteries through the mail because they pose the most significant risk if damaged. It is impossible to ship Li-ion batteries through the mail in a regular cardboard box. If you are shipping these batteries by parcel or express post, they must be sent in compliance with UN 3090.

What are the restrictions on sending batteries by mail?

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) sets out guidelines for international mailing to ensure that all packages follow specific safety standards.
These guidelines are known as the Dangerous Goods Regulations.
The UPU has specific restrictions on shipping batteries, which vary depending on the type of battery. Some of the limits are:
  1. NiCd and NiMH batteries can only be sent in special packages called UN3481 battery boxes
  2. Li-ion batteries must be sent in compliance with UN 3090
  3. Batteries cannot be shipped in the same package as flammable materials
  4. Batteries cannot be shipped in the same package as explosives
  5. Batteries cannot be shipped in the same package as corrosive materials

How do I package a battery for mailing?

There are specific guidelines for packaging batteries for mailing.
Packaging guidelines:
  1. Avoid damage to battery cells and keep terminals from touching or shorting out
  2. Protect batteries from punctures, moisture, and shocks during shipment
  3. Separate stacks of batteries with a non-combustible material such as bubble wrap
  4. Do not cover the terminals (positive or negative) with tape
  5. Include a label on the outside of the package that identifies the type of battery and states that it is a “Dangerous Goods.”
  6. If sending a Li-ion battery, including the UN 3090 packing instruction number on the package