Amendment UN 38.3

Test certificate for lithium batteries becomes mandatory

January 1, 2020 was an important date for anyone who ships lithium cells or batteries. From that date, all suppliers must be able to provide a test summary proving that the shipping products have passed the UN 38.3 test for the transport of lithium batteries. This Regulation applies to all modes of transport and applies to cells and batteries shipped solely with equipment and/or in the final product.

Dangerous goods - lithium cells/batteries

Lithium cells and batteries have always been classified as dangerous goods. The safety requirements, including the UN 38.3 transport test, are correspondingly high. In eight individual tests, the behavior of the cell or battery is tested at extreme temperatures, external short circuits and overcharging. Traffic-specific factors such as impact reactions, vibrations, height changes and crushing are also being investigated.


The new UN 38.3 Test Summary Regulation

As early as 2019, a supplier had to provide a simple notice to check the cells or batteries that had passed the UN 38.3 test. A short sentence such as "The UN 38.3 test was successfully passed" was enough. That changed for the first time in the new year. From now on, each  supplier must be able to provide a documented summary, which refers to a detailed audit report. UN Guideline 38.3.5 regulates what additional information this test summary must contain. Accordingly, the following items meet the updated requirements:

  • The name of the manufacturer of lithium cells/batteries or end products.
  • The contact information of the manufacturer of cells/batteries or end products, including address, telephone number, email address and website.
  • The name of the test lab, including address, telephone number, e-mail address and website.
  • A unique test report ID number
  • A description of the cell/battery with the following information:
    • Is it a lithium-ion or lithium-metal cell/battery?
    • Mass
    • Watt-hour or lithium content
    • Physical description of the cell/battery
    • Model
  • A list of tests performed, including the results
  • An indication of the test requirements for composite batteries, i.e. UN 38.3.3 (f) and UN 38.3.3 (g)).
  • A reference to the revised edition of the test manual and criteria used and any changes to it.
  • The signature with the name and title of the signatory indicating the validity of the information provided.

The UN 38.3 test itself remains in its current form, only the requirements for the documentation of the test have become stricter. This update was already released on 1. January 2019. Suppliers were granted a one-year transitional period during which the new rules were not yet binding. This transitional period expired on 1 January 2020 and the current traffic rules for road transport (ADR) and ships (IMO/IMDG) and air freight (IATA) already refer to the new UN Directive.

January 2020

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