Personal property policy to change for lithium batteries

By Joint Personal Property Shipping OfficeApril 7, 2023

Personal property policy to change for lithium batteries
Image of lithium battery (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Effective May 15, 2023, the Department of Defense has implemented new policies regarding the shipment and storage of lithium batteries in personal property. The DOD recognizes that customers and/or third-party service providers (TSPs) may have unknowingly included lithium batteries in their personal property shipments or storage prior to the effective date. Therefore, lithium batteries that are currently in transit or may have been placed in storage are not affected by the new policy.

Lithium batteries are categorized into two types: Lithium Metal and Lithium-ion. Lithium metal batteries, which are single-use and non-rechargeable, are commonly found in items such as cameras, watches, remote controls, and smoke detectors. Lithium-ion batteries, which are rechargeable and intended for multiple use, are commonly found in cellphones, power tools, laptop computers, digital cameras, children's toys, scooters, E-Bikes, hoverboards, robot vacuums, small and large appliances, lawn care equipment, and other like items. A Lithium-ion battery can be made up of multiple "cells". A battery can also only be made up of a single cell such as the common AA, C, or a coin cell. A single cell battery is considered a "cell" and must also be identified if included in the shipment.

Transportation Service Providers (TSPs) are required to properly package, label and certify (if required) lithium-ion batteries rated at 100 watt-hours or less (20 watt-hours or less for lithium-ion cell) and lithium metal batteries containing two (2) grams or less of lithium content (one gram or less for lithium metal cell).

To determine if your battery is within the authorized shipping limit, the watt-hour rating is commonly printed on the battery or an internet search of the make and model of the item containing the battery may provide the size specifications. You should have a printed copy of the results available for the packers at time of pack out, especially if the specifications are not printed on the battery or device.

The stated limits are not based on the total aggregate watt-hours of all batteries in your shipment, but rather on the watt-hour rating of each individual battery. For example, if you have two lithium-ion batteries that are each 50 watt-hours, you may think that you have met the allowed limit because the total aggregate watt-hours would be 100 watt-hours. However, you could have three, four, etc. lithium-ion batteries that are each 75 watt-hours. They would all be allowed because they are under the lithium-ion battery limit of 100 watt-hours, given they are all in a working condition, properly packaged, labeled and/or certified (if required) and the individual cell value of each battery does not exceed 20 watt-hours.

It is important to note that if you are unable to determine the battery or cell watt-hour size, they may not be accepted by the TSP for movement within your shipment. Additionally, the new policy prohibits the storage of any type and size in long term non-temporary storage (NTS). However, short term storage in-transit is allowed. If any shipment is rerouted to or converted to NTS, you may need to provide disposition instructions to remove the item(s) from their shipment.

You can find details on the movement of Lithium batteries and other PCS issues on Military OneSource Personal Property page (, or contact your local Transportation Office for assistance.