FAA Regulations on Lithium Batteries

While preparing for our departure to India, we came across some startling news. Because of the recent Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” incident, the FAA has tightened its restrictions on the transport and shipment of Lithium batteries. This pretty much includes all of our standard camera batteries. While there have been no official updates to the 2007-2008 restrictions on Lithium batteries, everyone is on high alert. We were attempting to ship all of our equipment to India, and was told that we needed to have all of our batteries re-packaged by Hazmat before shipping. Even after this was done, many of the carriers are afraid to ship the Lithium batteries. We are still working on a solution, and are hopeful, but this is certainly something to be aware of if traveling with camera equipment anytime soon.

Keep in mind, all of this is in regards to Lithium-based batteries (Anton Bauer Dionics, Anton Bauer HC’s, RED Bricks, Switronix V-Lock batteries, Canon 7D/5D batteries, etc.) There are some camera batteries, such as the Anton Bauer Hytrons and VCLX block batteries that are NiMh. These are still safe to travel, as far as we know.

For the time being, here are the official FAA regulations on traveling with batteries.

Passengers can carry most consumer batteries and personal battery-powered devices. Spare batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit. Battery-powered devices should be protected from accidental activation. Batteries allowed in carry-on baggage include:

  • Dry cell alkaline batteries; typical AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, button sized cells, etc.
  • Dry cell rechargeable batteries such as Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Nickel Cadmium (NiCad). For rechargeable lithium ion batteries; see next sentence.
  • Lithium ion batteries (a.k.a.: rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer, LIPO, secondary lithium). Passengers may carry consumer-sized lithium ion batteries [no more than 8 grams of equivalent lithium content or 100 watt hours (wh) per battery]. This size covers AA, AAA, 9-volt, cell phone, PDA, camera, camcorder, Gameboy, and standard laptop computer batteries.
  • Passengers can also bring two (2) larger lithium ion batteries (more than 8 grams, up to 25 grams of equivalent lithium content per battery) in their carry-on. This size covers larger extended-life laptop batteries. Most consumer lithium ion batteries are below this size.
  • Lithium metal batteries (a.k.a.: non-rechargeable lithium, primary lithium). These batteries are often used with cameras and other small personal electronics. Consumer-sized batteries (up to 2 grams of lithium per battery) may be carried. This includes all the typical non-rechargeable batteries for personal film cameras and digital cameras (AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc.) as well as the flat round lithium button cells.

Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage. The batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit or installed in a device. Battery-powered devices—particularly those with moving parts or those that could heat up—should be protected from accidental activation. Spare lithium batteries (both lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer) are prohibited in checked baggage.

There is no limit to the number of consumer-size batteries or battery-powered devices that a passenger can carry. Only the larger lithium ion batteries are limited to two (2) batteries per passenger.

Since this is brand new, and we are all figuring out what the actual policies are, let me know if anyone has a different experience. The more news we hear from others, the better.

Here is the link to all of the FAA regulations. Safe travels!

1 Comment

  • mattporwoll / March 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    We have been told our Hazmat-packed batteries left New York yesterday, with a scheduled arrival / Customs clearance in India on March 22nd. That’s halfway through our trip and only two days before we cross into Bangladesh. To cover ourselves in the interim, we split up 12 Anton Bauer batteries between three of us flying here. We each carried two on, and checked two. We did this hoping that at least some of our batteries would make it through. We had absolutely no problem. In fact, when security checked my carry-on bag in Dubai, they saw my 3 still camera bodies and went through the 2 Dionics, 4 7D batteries, 4 1DC batteries, 2 watch batteries, and two AA batteries (ALL Lithium), saying only, “Wow, thats a lot of cameras!” The moral of the story unfortunately is don’t specify you are shipping/flying with lithium batteries.

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