Truck placards

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) first modified the requirements governing the transportation of lithium cells and batteries on August 6, 2014 with a voluntary compliance when the rule took effect, and eventually extended the deadline for shippers to mandatorily comply by August 7, 2015. The changes were made to increase safety for shipping, incorporate numerous special permits, and harmonize shipping regulations, including incorporation of regulations from equivalent provisions for air and vessel shippers which were part of the 56th Edition of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) and the 2014 Edition of the IMDG Code (Amendment 37).

Significant changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and shipping of lithium batteries (and items containing batteries within) are as follows:

  • Incorporation of proper shipping names and identification numbers for lithium batteries into the Hazmat Table from international regulations and previous DOT conditional rules
  • Exceptions for smaller cells – based on lithium content and watt hours
  • Most shipments of primary lithium metal cells and batteries are now prohibited from transport aboard passenger aircraft. For those permitted, new marking requirements exist
  • Updated provisions for lithium batteries being shipped for disposal/recycling; low-production runs and prototypes; and for damaged or recalled cells

Updated regulations can be found in 49 CFR 172.101 and 49 CFR 173.185 for mandatory compliance effective August 7, 2015. Mandatory compliance with the 2014 IMDG Code changes will start January 1, 2016. IATA DGR rules regulating international shipments by air have been in effect since January 1, 2015.

Zephyr’s HazMat Academy offers DOT/PHMSA Hazardous materials shipping training to learn the ins and outs of shipping hazardous materials and hazardous wastes per 49 CFR 172. If you have questions regarding the updated lithium shipping rules, DOT HazMat training, or would like compliance assistance, please contact Linda Salzar at (512) 879-6630 or