How to Ship E-BIKES Safetly?

While electric cars become more prevalent, as today’s consumers become more environmentally conscious, the sale of e-bikes has also been soaring since 2014, jumping eight times between 2014 and 2018. For e-commerce merchants who are selling e-bikes, however, shipping these battery-powered, irregularly shaped, bulk yet delicate bikes can be an issue.

The biggest obstacles involving shipping e-bikes include lithium battery, odd-sized packaging, and documentation. In this blog, ShipSaving will walk through all the steps to ensure that you ship e-bikes safely.

First, let’s talk about batteries. Most e-bikes employ lithium batteries, which are highly inflammable and marked as dangerous goods by major couriers, namely USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL. However, whether you can ship batteries really depends on their type, lithium content, dimension, and weight. If you are shipping lithium ion batteries under 5 kilograms, they can be shipped even without a dangerous goods contract, like any other goods. Most couriers accept lithium ion batteries, but if you’re shipping lithium metal batteries, then you need to contact couriers ahead, since they are considered more dangerous and not accepted by most couriers.

Here are the specific courier guidelines on shipping lithium batteries.

For USPS:

  • Lithium batteries must be properly installed in the equipment.
  • Only certain types of lithium batteries are eligible for domestic air transportation, see documentation for eligibility.
  • All lithium batteries are prohibited for international shipping, except for certain small consumer-type lithium batteries (installed in the equipment they operate). See documentation for eligibility.
  • The total watt-hour rating must not exceed 20 Wh for each cell and 100 Wh for each battery.
  • For FedEx:

  • The total watt-hour rating must not exceed 20 Wh for each lithium ion cell; 100 Wh for each lithium ion battery.
  • The total weight must not exceed 1 gram for each lithium metal cell; 2 grams for each lithium metal battery.
  • Each button battery packed with equipment (including circuit board) must contain no more than 4 cells or 2 batteries
  • See FedEx Guidance for more information.
  • For UPS:

  • UPS does not accept any products listed under UN3090 (lithium metal batteries, non rechargeable, without equipment) or UN3480 part II (lithium ion batteries, rechargeable, without equipment) for air transportation. Shipping these items requires pre-approval from UPS and contract for dangerous goods.
  • The total watt-hour rating must not exceed 20 Wh for each cell, and 100 Wh for each battery.
  • If there are fewer than 2 lithium batteries installed in/packed with the equipment, then the package can be shipped without being marked as dangerous goods.
  • For DHL:

  • DHL only accepts goods listed under UN3481-PI967 and UN3091-PI969, and batteries must be installed in the equipment.
  • Each package must contain no more than 4 cells or 2 batteries.
  • The total watt-hour rating must not exceed 20 Wh for each cell and 100 Wh for each battery.
  • The net weight of a lithium battery in a package must not exceed 5 kilograms.
  • See DHL Guidance for more information.
  • Again, shipping policies and pricing may vary depending on the battery type (lithium ion or lithium metal), lithium content, weight, dimension, and whether it's installed in/packed with an equipment. However, not all lithium batteries will be accepted by couriers and all couriers forbid shipping batteries that are defective, damaged, or recalled. Lithium batteries are marked as dangerous goods, which means that a surcharge may apply when shipping.

    Packing is another important matter. If you were to ship batteries installed in e-bikes, or separately, you will need someone who currently has a HazMat certification to pack them for you. Additionally, packages need to pass a 1.2 meter drop test, ensuring no chemicals released, no batteries damaged or moved inside causing short-circuiting.

    Bikes are irregularly shaped, large, and heavy, meaning they are expensive to ship. What you can do is disassemble parts as much as you can, and pack them together to save space, while making sure that all parts are buffered and separated from each other.

    If you decide to ship bikes and batteries in separate packages, it’ll be easier. Shipping the bike itself will be like any other goods. As for batteries, you still need someone with a HazMat certification to pack it. ShipSaving offers multi-piece shipment, which allows you to track multiple separate shipments with sub-tracking numbers under one parent tracking number.

    Lastly, plan ahead by asking your courier what kind of documents you may need. Documentation for shipping batteries include Material Safety Data Sheet, UN38.8 Certificate, Certificate of Origin, P1965, and etc. I want to highlight the UN38.8 Certificate, which takes 2-3 months to process and proves that your battery has been tested. This is necessary for couriers to accept your shipment containing batteries.

    Even though shipping an e-bike may sound very complicated, it is not impossible. ShipSaving can help you deliver whatever you are selling to wherever your customers are. Schedule a demo today to learn more about discounted shipping labels and efficient shipping solutions.

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