USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #15-0040 ([Wiley Rein LLP] [Mr. George Kerchner])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Wiley Rein LLP

Individual Name: Mr. George Kerchner

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 21, 2016

Mr. George Kerchner
Senior Regulatory Analyst
Wiley Rein LLP
1776 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Reference No. 15-0040

Dear Mr. Kerchner:

This is in response to your March 10, 2015 letter requesting confirmation of the requirements for shipping lithium metal batteries contained in equipment under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180), the International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. Specifically you ask if a water flow meter containing two lithium metal C-size cells with an aggregate lithium metal content of approximately 4.5 grams can be placed into a package in conformance with all applicable requirements of the HMR, the ICAO TI and the IMDG code and transported by all modes while the electronic device is activated (i.e. powered on).  The device would meet all appropriate requirements including lithium battery design testing and protection of the device.    

The HMR do not specifically address electronic devices that are intentionally active in transport. As such, the HMR do not prohibit the transport of a battery-powered device in an operational mode by any mode of transportation, including air provided the device is packaged to prevent sparks and the evolution of a dangerous quantity of heat (see § 173.21). The ICAO TI in Section II of Packing Instruction 970 and the IMDG Code, in special provision 188 and packing instruction 903 of the IMDG code permit devices such as radio frequency identification tags, watches and temperature loggers to be transported when active.  These devices must not be capable of generating a dangerous evolution of heat.

The flow meter described in your letter containing two lithium metal cells may be transported in an operational mode within the United States in accordance with the HMR.   The flow meter may be transported in an operational mode to, from, or within the United States in accordance with packing instruction 903 of the IMDG Code, if all or part of the transportation is by vessel.  The flow meter would not be eligible for air transport in an operational mode in accordance with the ICAO TI because the lithium content of the cells contained in the device exceeds the limit specified in Section II of Packing Instruction 970.  

The shipper must ensure that the battery and the device as presented for transport will not generate a dangerous quantity of heat or sparks when powered on.  In addition to any HMR and ICAO TI requirements and limitations, you are advised to consider any aviation-specific requirements prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration that may be applicable in connection with the water flow meter that is the subject of this letter and with any other electronic device.  The aviation-based requirements continue to evolve necessitating such consideration.

I trust this information is helpful.  If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact this office.


Duane Pfund
International Standards Coordinator
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.21 Forbidden materials and packages