Find out what you need to do to legally place batteries or accumulators on the UK market.
If you design or manufacture any type of battery or accumulator for the UK market, including batteries that are incorporated in appliances, they must conform to legislation.
Find out the definitions of the types of batteries that are regulated.
You must not place batteries on the market if they contain more than:
- 0.0005% of mercury by weight
- 0.002% of cadmium by weight
- 0.004% of lead by weight
There are exceptions to these limits, which are explained below.
Button cells can contain up to 2% mercury by weight if marked Hg if they are placed on the market before 1 October 2015.
The following types of battery may contain more than 0.002% of cadmium if they are labelled Cd:
- portable batteries intended solely for alarm systems, emergency lighting and medical equipment
- cordless power-tools placed on the market before 1 January 2017
- industrial batteries
- automotive batteries
Any battery may contain more than 0.004% of lead if it is marked Pb.
Labelling batteries correctly
All labelling on batteries must be visible, legible and indelible.
Crossed out wheeled bin
Batteries must be labelled with the symbol of a crossed out, wheeled bin, as shown below.
This symbol must cover:
- at least 3% of the surface area of the largest side of a non-cylindrical battery or battery pack, or
- at least 1.5% of the total surface area of a cylindrical battery, and, in either case, up to a maximum size of 5 x 5 centimetres (cm)
If a battery is so small that the size of the symbol would be less than 0.5 x 0.5 cm, then you must place the symbol on the packaging, but it must be at least 1cm x 1cm.
Where a battery is provided within another piece of equipment and it is impractical to mark the battery, the symbol must be marked on the packaging of the product.
Any chemical symbols required must:
- be directly below the crossed out wheeled bin and
- cover an area of at least 25% of the crossed out wheeled bin symbol
You must label:
- portable rechargeable batteries with their capacity in milliampere-hours (mAh) with a whole number or ampere-hours (Ah) with only one digit after the decimal point
- automotive batteries with their capacity both in ampere-hours (Ah) and in cold cranking amperes (A), written as whole numbers
Make sure the minimum size and location of capacity labels on batteries is as shown in the following table:
|Type of battery||Location||Minimum size of label on battery or battery pack (height x length)||Minimum size of label on packaging (height x length)|
|portable rechargeable (except button cells and memory back up batteries)||on the packaging and on the individual batteries. If the batteries are too small to be labelled it can be on the product (and packaging)||1 x 5 mm||5 x 12 mm|
|rechargeable battery packs where the largest side is below 70 cm squared||on the external housing of the batteries and on the front of packaging, and on the packaging or appliance if the battery packs are too small to be labelled||1 x 5 mm||5 x 12 mm|
|rechargeable battery packs where the largest side is equal to or above 70 cm squared||on the external housing of the batteries and on the front of packaging||2 x 5 mm||5 x 12 mm|
|button cells and memory back-up batteries||on the front of packaging||not applicable||5 X 12 mm|
|automotive batteries||on the largest side of the battery but not on the bottom side||covering at least 3% of the area up to a maximum of 20 × 150 mm||not applicable|
Making batteries readily removable
You must design appliances that incorporate batteries so that the person using the appliance can readily remove the battery. This means that they should be able to remove it safely and without difficulty, using the instructions provided where necessary. Where it is not possible for the battery to be readily removed by the person using the appliance, an independent qualified professional must be able to readily remove it.
Appliances incorporating batteries must be accompanied by instructions which explain how the battery can be readily removed by either the person using the appliance or an independent qualified professional. The instructions must explain the type of battery incorporated, where appropriate.
This does not apply where a permanent connection between the appliance and the battery is needed for safety, performance, medical or data integrity.
Some products, such as toys, must comply with specific rules on how batteries can be removed. Manufacturers must make sure they meet these requirements.
The legislation is enforced by the National Measurement Office (NMO).
Enforcement officers may visit premises at any reasonable time. They may inspect batteries, examine procedures and request records. They may also seize batteries or records.
If you have not complied with the regulations, you may be given an enforcement notice. This will tell you what the problem is and what you need to do about it within a specified time. Persistent and / or serious breaches can lead to prosecution.
Download guidance on the appeals process associated with the enforcement of this legislation by the NMO.
Legal responsibilities when placing batteries on the market:
- Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008
- Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) (Amendment) Regulations 2012
- Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) (Amendment) Regulations 2015
- Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators directive
- Amending directive for portable batteries and accumulators containing cadmium intended for use in cordless power tools, and button cells with low mercury content
- European Commission (EC) Blue Guide: New legislative framework for marketing of products
You can make any enquiries using the NMO online enquiries system.
Alternatively, you can phone 020 8943 7227 and leave a message and an enforcement officer will return your call as soon as possible. This is an automated system and you will not be able to speak with anybody on this number.
You can also send enquiries in writing to:
NMO Enforcement Authority
The advice provided by the NMO enquiry service is based on the best and most up to date information available at the time. The NMO aims to respond to all enquiries within one month.