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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 #21-0037

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen

Individual Name: Steven W. Hansen

Location State: CA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

September 14, 2021

Mr. Steven W. Hansen
Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen
Long Beach, CA 90808

Reference No. 21-0037

Dear Mr. Hansen:

This letter is in response to your April 7, 2021, letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to lithium batteries. In your letter, you state that you represent a company that ships traditional "e-bikes," meaning those that are in compliance with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations under 16 CFR part 1512.2(a)(2). You state that the e-bikes have lithium batteries installed in them and that the batteries are in "sleep mode," charged to 60% of full charge, and have a minimum 300 watt-hour (WH) rating. In addition, you state that the e-bikes are shipped only within the United States to retail stores via ground or rail transportation with a charger and a battery. You ask several questions pertaining to training, packaging, and hazard communication. We have paraphrased and addressed your questions as follows:

Questions Concerning Training

Q1. You ask when a shipper is considered to be “certified” to ship hazmat under the HMR and whether this term refers to a company or an individual.

A1. The term “certified” is often used to indicate that a hazmat employee has fulfilled its hazardous materials training requirements. As defined in § 171.8, the term "hazmat employee" includes all persons who—in the course of their employment—perform functions that directly affect hazardous materials transportation safety. The training requirements specified in Subpart H of Part 172 apply to an employee if that employee performs a function subject to the HMR. A hazmat employer must ensure that each of its hazmat employees are trained in the HMR. This training must include general awareness, function-specific, safety, security awareness training and (when applicable) in-depth security training as specified in § 172.704(a).

Q2. You ask whether hazmat employees must indicate on a shipping paper that their hazardous materials training is completed and current.

A2. The answer is no. While the HMR require recordkeeping for hazmat employee training under § 172.704(d), there are no training certification requirements for shipping papers.

Q3. You ask whether the training requirements in Subpart H of Part 172 apply to a shipper who offers "UN3171, Battery-powered vehicle or Battery-powered equipment, 9" for transportation.

A3. The answer is no. A properly classed product listed under "UN3171, Battery-powered vehicle or Battery-powered equipment, 9" prepared in accordance with § 173.220 and transported by motor vehicle or rail is not subject to any other requirements of the HMR—including the training requirements in Subpart H of Part 172. However, please note that the training requirements will apply when the lithium battery is shipped separately from the battery-powered e-bike.

Questions Concerning Packaging

Q4. You ask which specifications apply to the fiberboard box that you use to package the lithium batteries and e-bikes.

A4. Under § 173.220(h), batteries installed in battery-powered vehicles or equipment, which meet the applicable requirements in § 173.220 are excepted from specification packaging requirements. on, the vehicle must be secured in a strong, rigid outer packaging. The vehicle must be secured by means capable of restraining the vehicle in the outer packaging to prevent any movement during transport which would change the orientation or cause the vehicle to be damaged (see § 173.220(d)). Please also note that lithium batteries not installed in the e-bike may not be shipped under the provision in § 173.220 and do require specification packaging (see § 173.185(b), Subpart B of Part 172, and Subparts L and M of Part 178).

Q5. You ask what instructions apply to how e-bikes—with their lithium batteries installed—must be packed inside the fiberboard box.

A5. When shipped under the provisions in § 173.220, the HMR do not specify standards for the outer package or specific instructions for the vehicle's configuration in a package. However, § 173.220(d) describes packaging requirements that apply to e-bikes and similar lithium battery-powered vehicles (see A4). Lithium batteries must be securely installed in the vehicle (i.e., an e-bike in your example) and protected from short circuits.

Q6. You ask how many "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries, 9" may be shipped in one package.

A6. "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries, 9" are forbidden aboard passenger aircraft and are limited to 35 kilograms per package when shipped by cargo aircraft. In addition, as specified in special provision A100, when offered for transportation by air, lithium ion cells and batteries must be offered for transport at a state of charge not exceeding 30 percent of their rated capacity. However, when shipped by any mode of transportation other than air, there is no limit per package provided the package is authorized (see answer A4).

Q7. You ask how the packaging requirements differ when shipping lithium batteries not installed in the e-bikes.

A7. Lithium batteries not installed in the e-bike must be packaged in accordance with the requirements specified in § 173.185(b).

Questions Concerning Hazard Communication

Q8. You ask which specific labels must be placed on the outside of a fiberboard box for shipments of e-bikes.

A8. When shipped in accordance with § 173.220 and transported by motor vehicle or rail car, e-bikes are not subject to the HMR, which includes marking and labeling requirements. However, when shipped uninstalled, lithium batteries must be labeled and marked in accordance with Parts 172, Subparts D and E of the HMR.

Q9. You ask whether the label and marking for lithium batteries as depicted in your letter are in compliance with the HMR for lithium batteries.

A9. The answer appears to be yes. As you have illustrated in your letter, the label must appear as depicted in § 172.447, and the markings required under Part 172 Subpart D may be attached to the side of the label.

Q10. You ask whether a package containing lithium batteries must be marked with "49 CFR 172.102 Special Provision 134 and 173.220(d)."

A10. The answer is no. There is no requirement for this marking on a package containing lithium batteries.

Q11. You ask whether the lithium battery watt-hour rating must be marked on the inner packaging within an outer package (i.e., the fiberboard box).

A11. The answer is no. There is no requirement in the HMR to mark the inner packaging of a combination packaging with the watt-hour rating.

Q12. You provide examples of two different adhesive "stickers" that may be used to label or mark a package containing lithium batteries forbidden by passenger aircraft. One is the "CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY" label as specified in § 172.448; the other is the marking specified in § 173.185(c) "Exceptions for smaller cells or batteries." You ask which of the two examples is appropriate for 300 WH batteries when either shipped separately from your e-bikes, or when shipped installed in the e-bikes.

A12. When the batteries described in your scenario are installed in the e-bikes, these labels are not required. When they are shipped separately from the e-bikes, the "CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY" label specified in § 172.448 is required. In accordance with § 172.402(c), each person who offers for transportation or transports by aircraft a package containing a hazardous material which is authorized on cargo aircraft only shall label the package with a CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY label specified in § 172.448. The white sticker with red lettering in your example is designed to comply with the marking requirement specified in § 173.185(c) "Exceptions for smaller cells or batteries," which does not apply to batteries with a minimum rating of 300 WH.

Q13. You ask whether there is a required marking for lithium batteries that have passed the testing in Section 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria.

A13. The answer is no. The HMR do not specify a marking requirement for lithium batteries that have successfully passed the testing in Section 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria.

Q14. You ask what information needs to be stated on the shipping paper when offering "UN3171, Battery-powered vehicle or Battery-powered equipment, 9" for transportation.

A14. "UN3171, Battery-powered vehicle or Battery-powered equipment, 9" properly prepared in accordance with § 173.220 and transported by motor vehicle or rail car are not subject to shipping paper requirements under the HMR.

Q15. You ask whether the image you provide in your letter is the correct label and marking for a package containing "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries, 9."

A15. The answer appears to be yes, provided the label and marking meet the size and placement requirements specified in Subparts D and E of Part 172.

Q16. You ask which labels and markings are required on a package containing more than one lithium battery.

A16. See answer A15.

Q17. You ask what the shipping paper requirements are when offering for transportation "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries, 9" not installed in e-bikes.

A17. Shipping papers for hazardous materials must contain all required information specified in Subparts C and G of Part 172. Under § 172.202, the shipping description of a hazardous material on a shipping paper must include: the identification number (i.e., UN3480), the proper shipping name, hazard class, the packing group (if applicable), and the total quantity including number and type of packages (e.g., 40 kg or 3 batteries). In the example you provide in your letter, the description would read: "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries, 9, [total quantity]."

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

171.8, 172.102, 172.202, 172.402(c), 172.447, 172.448, 172.704(a), 172.704(d), 173.185(c), 173.185(b), 173.220, 173.220(d), 173.220(h)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
172.102 Special provisions
172.202 Description of hazardous material on shipping papers
172.402 Additional labeling requirements
172.447 LITHIUM BATTERY label