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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 20, 2022

Update to shipping lithium batteries in your PPS

By Chief Warrant Officer 4 Allyson E.T. Conroy, MyCG Staff

Lithium batteries have become a household term in recent years, and it is important to know what kind you have so that you know how to transport them. You will also need to inform your transportation service provider (TSP) of the type of lithium batteries in your household goods (HHG).

“Lithium batteries can be volatile, so it is important to properly disclose they are a part of a household good move,” said Webb Moore, chief of Military Compensation for the U.S. Coast Guard (CG-1332). “In past years, we have found that lithium batteries require protection, and we want to ensure your household goods arrive to your new destination without any incident.”

While preparing for your permanent change of station (PCS) move, and you prepare your personal property shipment, your counselor should mention how to ship and/or store lithium batteries, and your responsibility regarding them. Certain sized batteries may require special documentation. You should be prepared to identify your lithium batteries during your pre-move survey. 

As your HHG are transported from one place to another, they may be subject to various temperatures. These temperature variations may cause issues with any lithium batteries that are packed in your HHG; these types of batteries may overheat or catch on fire. This is why it is so important to communicate with your counselor about any lithium batteries you may be shipping. 

How to know what type you have

There are two types of lithium batteries:

  • Lithium metal batteries - single use and NOT rechargeable and may be considered button or coin batteries. These batteries may commonly be found in cameras, watches, remote controls, handheld games, and smoke detectors. Always check items for the type of batteries installed. They will commonly identify lithium battery on the item.
  • Lithium-ion batteries - are rechargeable and intended for multiple use. These batteries can commonly be found in cellphones, power tools, digital cameras, laptops, children’s toys, e-cigarettes, robot vacuums, small and large appliances, tablets, e-readers, lawn care equipment, and e-bikes. Some lithium-ion batteries are internal to a product and not easily removable, while others may be. Check manufacturer’s instructions for battery removal, if applicable.  

You will need to inform your TSP about any lithium batteries. It is then their responsibility that all shipments that contain lithium batters are properly packaged, labeled, and certified (if required) in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, and any other applicable regulation or guidance. It is the TSP’s responsibility to ensure items containing lithium (-ion and metal) cells or batteries are properly packaged for the type of transportation service being provided.