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Shipping lithium batteries can be tricky due to safety regulations. However, with some preparation and understanding of the rules, you can successfully send lithium batteries to Hawaii.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: You need to follow specific UN packaging standards, declare the batteries on shipping paperwork, choose a ground shipping provider that transports lithium batteries, and follow all labeling requirements.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about shipping lithium-ion and lithium metal batteries to Hawaii, including:

Lithium Battery Shipping Regulations

DOT Requirements

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has strict regulations for shipping lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are classified as hazardous materials and must meet certain packaging, labeling, and other safety requirements.

Some key DOT lithium battery shipping requirements include:

  • Proper shipping names – Lithium batteries must be accompanied by the correct shipping name, such as “Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment” or “Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment.”
  • Hazard class – Lithium ion batteries are Class 9 miscellaneous hazardous materials. Lithium metal batteries may be Class 9 or Class 8 corrosive materials.
  • Packaging – Batteries must be packed in a way to prevent short circuits and damage. Specific outer packaging and inner packaging standards apply.
  • Labels – Shipments must display the appropriate lithium battery handling labels.
  • Safety training – Employees involved in preparing lithium battery shipments must be hazmat trained.

In addition, there are different regulations for shipping lithium batteries with equipment vs. shipping them by themselves. Shipping batteries by air has further restrictions on things like size and quantity of batteries.

IATA Regulations

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides lithium battery shipping instructions that airlines must follow. These are outlined in their Dangerous Goods Regulations.

Key IATA lithium battery air shipping rules include:

  • State of charge – Lithium ion batteries cannot exceed 30% state of charge for air shipments.
  • Packaging – IATA packaging instructions 965-967 detail standards for shipping lithium batteries by themselves or with equipment.
  • Quantity limits – There are limits on the net quantity of lithium batteries allowed per package for air transport.
  • Labels -Packages must display lithium battery handling labels as well as the lithium battery “CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY” label if applicable.

As of April 1, 2016, IATA imposed a prohibition against shipping lithium ion batteries as air cargo shipments on passenger aircraft. This was done for safety reasons. There are exceptions if certain quantity, packaging, and other requirements are met.

But in general, lithium batteries can only go on cargo aircraft now.

2016 Lithium ion battery prohibition on passenger aircraft takes effect
67% Estimated IATA air shipment rate drop for lithium batteries from 2015 to 2016

Choosing a Shipping Carrier

Ground vs. Air Transport

When shipping lithium batteries to Hawaii, you have two main options for transport – ground or air. Ground transport typically involves trucking or freight shipping. This method is generally cheaper, but also slower. Transit times can take 1-2 weeks. Air transport is faster, but comes at a higher cost.

Delivery times are usually 2-5 days.

There are pros and cons to each shipping method when sending hazardous materials like lithium batteries:

  • Ground transportation costs less per pound/item shipped
  • Air transport allows packages to reach Hawaii sooner
  • Airlines restrict more hazardous materials than ground carriers
  • Ground transit involves more physical handling of packages, increasing damage risks
  • Air transit exposes packages to pressure and temperature changes

When deciding between truck, freight or air mailing, consider the inventory needs of the recipient, deadlines, and how well packaged the lithium batteries are to withstand the conditions of transport. Check with your chosen carrier for guidance specific to shipping batteries.

Authorized Carriers

Only ship lithium ion and metal batteries with a carrier authorized for hazardous materials transport. Look for these credentials when selecting a delivery service to Hawaii:

  • Registration with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Special permits allowing transport of hazardous goods
  • Approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for air transport
  • Personnel trained in handling hazmat packages
  • Proper package labeling and manifesting procedures in place

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 6.5 million pounds of batteries were shipped to Hawaii in 2020. The following carriers are DOT-approved and commonly used for lithium battery delivery to the state:

DHL Old Dominion Freight Line

When comparing shipping carriers, look at any Hawaii-specific surcharges, delivery timeframes, tracking capabilities, loss/damage rates, and full disclosure of DOT limitations. Ensure your battery shipment fully adheres to the carrier’s restrictions.

With an authorized hazmat transporter, you can ensure compliance and safety when shipping lithium batteries to Hawaii.

For more information, visit the DOT’s Lithium Battery Shipping Page.

Proper Packaging and Labeling

When shipping lithium batteries to Hawaii, proper packaging and labeling is crucial to ensure safe transport. Here are some key guidelines to follow:

Use Strong Outer Packaging

Lithium batteries must be packed in strong outer packaging that will withstand normal transport handling and any accidental drops or impacts. Popular options include:

  • Sturdy cardboard boxes
  • Wood or metal boxes
  • Strong rigid plastic packaging

The packaging should securely cushion the lithium batteries and prevent movement within the box. Shock-absorbent cushioning material like bubble wrap or foam is recommended.

Include Inner Packaging

In addition to the outer packaging, lithium batteries must be packed with inner packaging or separators to prevent contact between cells. Suitable inner packaging includes:

  • Plastic bags or sleeves
  • Cardboard dividers
  • Foam cushions

This protects the batteries from damage and prevents short circuits or sparks during transport.

Attach Lithium Battery Markings

The outer packaging must display the appropriate lithium battery handling labels to alert transport workers. This includes:

  • UN specification packaging markings
  • “Lithium Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Aircraft” label
  • Cargo Aircraft Only label, if shipping by air

Printed lithium battery handling labels can be purchased from shipping suppliers like Uline.

Include Documentation

Shipping documentation must accompany all shipments containing lithium batteries. This should include a document such as an MSDS stating that the package contains lithium batteries.

Per UPS guidelines, air shipments must also include the following statement: “Lithium ion battery – PI 965, Section II”.

Properly packaged and labeled lithium battery shipments comply with national and airline regulations, ensuring safe transit to destinations like Hawaii.

Paperwork for Lithium Battery Shipments

Bill of Lading

An important document for any hazardous materials shipment, including lithium batteries, is the bill of lading. This lists critical details about the shipment, including the shipper, consignee, quantity and description of materials, and any special handling instructions.

For lithium battery shipments to Hawaii, the bill of lading must clearly identify the batteries and quantity, and indicate they are fully regulated Class 9 hazardous materials. The document helps ensure all cargo handlers are aware of the shipment contents and any risks.

Labeling Paperwork

In addition to the information on the bill of lading, lithium battery shipments must include proper labeling on the outer packaging. This includes lithium battery handling labels from the DOT, UN certification codes, and indications if the shipment contains fully regulated batteries.

Having accurate, up-to-date labels prevents confusion and helps Hawaii receiving ports and warehouses process battery containers correctly. Some reference websites for labeling regulations are the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the International Air Transport Association.

Extra Considerations for Hawaii

Shipping lithium batteries to Hawaii requires some extra precautions and considerations compared to other states. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

Temperature Sensitivity

Lithium batteries are sensitive to high temperatures. Since Hawaii has a tropical climate, it’s important to take steps to keep batteries cool during transport:

  • Use insulated packaging and gel packs if shipping small volumes of batteries
  • For larger shipments, consider temperature-controlled transport via refrigerated trucks/shipping containers

Air Transport Restrictions

Most air carriers have extra restrictions, limitations, or even outright bans on shipping lithium batteries to Hawaii via air transport. Be sure to check with your chosen airline first.

Remote Location Considerations

As an isolated island chain, backup options are limited if issues arise with a Hawaii lithium battery shipment. Plan for extra lead time and consider emergency contingency transport if possible.

Customs Scrutiny

Hawaii also tends to see greater customs inspection scrutiny. Take extra care to comply with all regulations and properly declare shipments.

Hazmat Training Requirements

More companies in Hawaii require expanded OSHA Flammable & Combustible hazmat training for those handling lithium battery shipments. Ensure staff meet Hawaiian hazard training standards.

While shipping lithium batteries to Hawaii introduces some unique factors, with proper planning and precautions the process can be safe and incident-free.


By following lithium battery shipping regulations, choosing the right carrier, properly packaging and labeling your batteries, and completing all paperwork, you can safely and legally transport lithium batteries to Hawaii.

Allow extra transit time, be aware of Hawaii’s import requirements, and double check that your chosen shipping provider transports lithium batteries to ensure a smooth delivery.

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