Posted in Courier, Technology

Shipping Laptops With Lithium-Ion Batteries

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Once when I had to make a decision between choosing DHL and FedEx for shipping laptops with lithium-ion batteries from the Philippines to a neighbouring country, my first choice was DHL. It proved to be a cumbersome selection. Not only was the Macbook Air laptop returned, the customer service part of the follow-up was hell. I ended up going to FedEx which had surprisingly a more straightforward approach in shipping laptops with lithium-ion batteries internationally.

If you prefer to ship a laptop with lithium-ion battery because your consignee already has a DHL account, make sure you include the Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS of the built-in battery with the commercial invoice. Your consignee would contact the courier company to schedule the pickup from your address and the shipping charges would be billed to your consignee’s DHL account. From my experience with shipping a Macbook Air with lithium-ion battery, I did not have much luck finding the MSDS even after I called up Apple’s 1-800 number in the Philippines. Apple Support sent me a PDF document titled Macbook Air 13-inch Environmental Report.

According to a DHL staff from Manila, a Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS is a document signed by a licensed chemist to prove that the laptop is non-hazardous. Unlike other conventional laptops with removable batteries, the Macbook Air (and not just the Macbook but even their iPhones) has a built-in battery. My sister’s friend who is a licensed chemist informed us that the MSDS is not just any document signed by a licensed chemist, rather it is actually an official document signed by an authorized body that even she who was licensed could not produce a document like it.

Because DHL Manila did not accept the Macbook Air 13-inch Environmental Report, the laptop was shipped back to my address after being held up in customs for 3 days.

We even tried to contact Apple again and requested an MSDS specifically for the built-in battery only. The customer service agent at Apple Singapore took over the matter. They explained that Apple doesn’t have a specific MSDS for the lithium-ion polymer battery of the Macbook Air. However, they requested that we transfer them to the person in-charge of the final clearance for shipping the item overseas. DHL Manila said that suggestion is not going to work because all they need was the MSDS.

When we dealt with FedEx, they told us that DHL in the Philippines do not use their own plane – they tie up with the local airlines to ship items. I was doubtful about this until I noticed that the storage box which was returned to us by DHL had a Cebu Pacific sticker on the side. I then understood what he meant about why the MSDS was required. Since they use Cebu Pacific in this case, DHL had no control over airline rules and regulations for shipping laptops with built-in lithium-ion batteries.

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