The regulations for the international air transport of lithium batteries have changed. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has revised the regulations for standalone lithium batteries within the 58th Edition of the Dangerous Goods Guidelines.The new rules are mandatory since January 1st, 2017. 

Here is a summary of the main rules:

Passenger aircraft

Standalone lithium ion cells or batteries are no longer permitted on passenger aircraft. This restriction does not apply to cells or batteries that come packed with equipment or are installed in equipment

State of charge (SoC) requirements

Standalone lithium ion cells and batteries must be presented for carriage in a state of charge (SoC) of no more than 30% of their rated design capacity. Cells and / or batteries in a state of charge (SoC) higher than 30% of their rated design capacity can only be forwarded with the permission of the state of origin and the state of the air carrier.

Number of packages

Per consignment, not more than one package containing standalone lithium ion cells or batteries may be offered for transport.


Not more than one package shall be placed in an overpack. If the package is placed in an outer packaging in accordance with the applicable packing instruction, then the lithium battery handling label and the "Cargo Aircraft Only" label shall either remain visible or affixed on the outside of the overpack. The overpack shall be marked with the word "OVERPACK".


Packages prepared according to Section II of PI 965 and PI 968 must be offered to the operator separately from other cargo and must not be loaded into a unit load device (ULD) before being offered to the operator.

Marking and labelling

There is a new design lithium battery label instead of general Class 9 label and also a new lithium handling mark There is a new design lithium battery label instead of general Class 9 label and also a new lithium handling mark.


The requirement for a lithium handling document to accompany packages that are marked with the lithium handling mark has been removed, however a statement to alert all parties in the transport chain that lithium batteries are involved is needed on the airway bill. 

Exemption restriction

The exemption to the application of the lithium handling mark to packages containing up to 2 batteries / 4 cells installed in equipment has been limited to consignments of not more than 2 packages.


Data loggers are allowed when they are intentionally active. However, the requirements of the applicable packing instructions PI967 or PI970 apply. Exemption to the application of a lithium handling mark and corresponding AWB remarks are allowed only if the consignment consists of:

  • Devices powered by button cells alone or
  • 2 packages or less and each package contains devices which include in total not more than 2 batteries or 4 cells.


Please note that additional restrictions may apply dependent on the airline, route or destination of the lithium cells and batteries.

A full update on the new rules for the transport of lithium batteries by air can be found on the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA): IATAs Lithium Battery Update.

Please contact your local airfreight specialist at Kuehne + Nagel if you have any question on this topic.