UN 38.3 test series
In most of the checklists you can find a checkpoint regarding the so called UN 38.3 Test.
What does it mean?
Before lithium cells/batteries can be transported in the first place, they must have successfully passed certain tests. These tests simulate transport conditions like pressure, temperature, crush, impact ect. These tests are described in the United Nations manual called "UN manual of tests and criteria". Part III of this manual describes in subsection 38.3 the 8 test modules which in some documents or data sheets are also called T.1 to T.8 test.
Since 1st of January 2023 the 7 revised edtion of the UN manual of tests and criteria, Amendment 1 is valid.
Test Requirements according to the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria Part III, Subsection 38.3
The new edition of the UN manual of tests and criteria
When you are interested in the technical details of this UN test series 38.3, you can download the up-to-date version >of the English version here:
With the changes on 01. January 2019 two tables have been added which present a nice overview on the number of test samples for each of the tests in the UN test series 38.3:
Requirements for the UN 38.3 Test Summary valid from 1st January 2020
With the changes on 1st Januar 2019 in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria a new subsection 38.3.5 was added and all transport regulations refer to that.
From 1st January 2020 the information on the successfully passed UN 38. test must be documented in a lot more details and provided to the users.
The UN 38.3 Test Summary must include the following information:
We have developed a sample for our licence customers, which you can download via the download page. Other interested parties are welcome to contact us.
What does that mean for you as Shipper?
You as shipper of lithium cells/batteries have to get the UN 38.3 Test Summary from the manufacturer of the cell/battery or from the supplier that the cells/batteries. Of course this is also needed for lithium cells and/or lithium batteries that are already installed in equipment. Here the manufacturer of the equipment has the obligation to provide the information to you.
Usually you´ll find this information in product data sheets of the manufacturer. Unfortunately at the moment there is no obligation for the lithium cells / lithium batteries or the equipment containing lithium cells and/or lithium batteries to bear a note regarding this.
Here a very important tip from experience: Batteries are subject to the UN 38.3 test regardless of whether the cells they are composed of have passed the test or not. You have to look very closely what the manufacturer or supplier confirms. The certificate must match your lithium cell / lithium battery.
Transport of lithium cells / lithium batteries without UN 38.3 test
Without a confirmation of this UN 38.3 test lithium cells and lithium batteries may only be transported following stricter requirements as so called prototypes. This is also possible for small series of max. 100 lithium cells / lithium batteries. This is regulated in the ADR and IMDG code in Special Provision 310 and for this variety of transport you can find the relevant checklist on our website via FIND A SINGLE CHECKLIST.
In air transport this is regulated in the IATA DGR manual in Special Provision A88. For this an exemption from the appropriate national authority is needed every time. We have developed checklists for this transport variety also, even though the appropriate national authority of the state of departure and the appropriate national authority of the licensing state of the operator will determine the requirements for transport and especially for packaging for each individual case.
How can we help you?
Should you have questions regarding the UN 38.3 test certificate or when you´re looking for a UN 38.3 Test certificate of a certain product, please contact us via "Contact". We have obtained quite a lot of UN 38.3 certificates or UN 38.3 declarations of conformity ourselves and we can help you directly or to support you in your search.
Quality Management System for the manufacture of lithium cells / lithium batteries
Closely related to the UN test series according to 38.3 is the additional requirement that the manufacturer of the lithium cells / lithium batteries must manufacture under a clearly described quality management system. With this shall be ensured that the production series is not of low quality which could present a risk during transport.
At the moment it doesn´t have to be a certified system like ISO 9001 but on request the manufacturer must present proof of the existing qualtiy management program to the authorites. A certification according to ISO 9001 of the manufacturing process would fulfill all requirements of the transport regulations on the Quality Management Program for the manfuacture of the lithium cells / lithium batteries.
As shipper / consignor of lithium cells / lithium batteries you must get a confirmation from the manufacturer or your supplier that the manufacture was according to the required QM System. In our checklists we do have a check point regarding this. And in our combined Supplier Inquiry Form and UN 38.3 Test Summary we included it also.
The details on the Quality Management System on the manufacture of lithium cells / lithium batteries we´ve provided for you under this link: Quality Management Program