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

Interpretation Response #20-0087

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: DHL Global Forwarding

Individual Name: Philip Poland

Location State: KY Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 3, 2021

Mr. Philip Poland
DHL Global Forwarding
2151 Southpark Dr. Ste 1
Hebron, KY  41048

Reference No. 20-0087

Dear Mr. Poland

This letter is in response to your November 13, 2020, email and subsequent telephone conversations requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the responsibilities of a freight forwarder. Beginning January 1, 2022, each manufacturer and subsequent distributor of lithium cells or batteries manufactured on or after January 1, 2008, must make available a lithium battery test summary (see § 173.185(a)(3)). Specifically, you ask whether a freight forwarder is responsible for validating that shipments of lithium cells or batteries comply with the HMR—by requesting a United Nations (UN) 38.3 Test Summary—prior to offering the shipments to an airline.

As provided in § 171.2(b), "... each offeror is responsible only for the specific pre-transportation functions that it performs or is required to perform, and each offeror may rely on information provided by another offeror, unless that offeror knows or, a reasonable person, acting in the circumstances and exercising reasonable care, would have knowledge that the information provided by the other offeror is incorrect." In the instance of shipments of lithium cells or batteries, a freight forwarder would not be expected to validate whether a shipment meets all the applicable requirements of the HMR unless the freight forwarder is performing a pre-transportation function that would require such knowledge, such as signing a shipper's certification. In addition, if the freight forwarder has a reason to believe the information provided by the offeror is incorrect or does not meet the requirements of the HMR, the freight forwarder would be required to validate the information before offering the lithium cells or batteries shipments into transportation.

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


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

171.2(b), 173.185(a)(3)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.2 General requirements
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries