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Interpretation Response #16-0125 ([UPS Airlines] [Mr. Bob McClelland])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: UPS Airlines

Individual Name: Mr. Bob McClelland

Location State: GA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 31, 2017

Mr. Bob McClelland
Air Dangerous Goods Manager
UPS Airlines
55 Glenlake Parkway, NE
Atlanta, GA 30328-3474

Reference No. 16-0125

Dear Mr. McClelland:

This letter is in response to your July 20, 2016, email requesting further clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to power banks or supplemental power units containing lithium ion batteries. In this email, you ask a series of follow-up questions in response to a previously-issued letter from June 23, 2016 (Reference No. 16-0018).

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. Keeping in mind that many products described as power banks, power units, supplemental power, etc. include embedded electronic accessories such as a fuel gauge or a flashlight, you ask if a power bank that includes such accessories meets the definition of "equipment" as defined in § 173.185.

A1. For purposes of the HMR, a power bank as described in your email is a battery and must be transported using a proper shipping name that most appropriately describes the battery type housed in the power bank. This criterion applies regardless of whether the power bank has additional accessories. The HMR define "equipment" as the device or apparatus for which the lithium cells or batteries will provide electrical power for its operation (see § 173.185). As described in our previous response, a battery in a power pack is used to supply electric power to separate equipment.

Q2. You ask if—under the assumption that a power bank is a battery and not equipment—it is correct to assume that the power bank must be a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the United Nations (UN) Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III sub-section 38.3.

A2. The answer is yes. The cells or battery (if applicable) in the power bank must be a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III sub-section 38.3. For the purposes of testing in accordance with the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III sub-section 38.3, the power bank or the internal cell/battery may be subjected to the tests as appropriate.

Q3. You ask if a shipper outside the United States may offer power banks as "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment."

A3. The International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Technical Instructions) recently adopted a definition of equipment similar to that in the HMR. This definition clarified the applicability of the ICAO Technical Instructions. It is the opinion of this Office that power banks of the type described in your email when offered for transport in accordance with the ICAO Technical Instruction should be described as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries."

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.



Duane A. Pfund
International Standards Coordinator
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries