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USPS Will Not Ship Li-ion Batteries Internationally Anymore

By - Source: Fast Company | B 50 comments

If you're planning to send electronics overseas, you'll have to pony up for FedEx, UPS or DHL because USPS won't do it anymore.

The United States Postal Service has said that starting next week, it's banning the overseas shipping of laptops, smartphones, tablets, or anything else with a lithium-ion battery. Starting May 16, our friends at USPS will be revising their mailing standards manual and prohibiting the international mailing of lithium ion batteries. Fast Company writes that the reasoning behind the ban is likely the fact that lithium ion batteries can catch fire or explode under certain circumstances and improperly stored or fully charged can pose a risk on flights.

Being unable to ship smartphones, laptops, Kindles or MP3 players overseas will be a headache for a lot of people, however, USPS says it doesn't expect the ban to last forever. Come January 2013, it anticipates that customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally as long as they're properly installed in the personal electronic device they're intended to power.

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Top Comments
  • 30 Hide
    nthreem , May 11, 2012 8:19 PM
    wiyosayaUm, I'm sure you mean "properly installed."

    You're properly right...
  • 23 Hide
    lamorpa , May 11, 2012 8:33 PM
    Well that should help with the $3.2B losses per quarter...
  • 14 Hide
    aoneone , May 11, 2012 8:50 PM
    I predict one day that the show Mythbusters on the Discovery channel will test to see if Lithium-Ion based batteries in such devices 'really' do catch fire and/or explode in certain situations. Mark my words. >.
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  • 10 Hide
    wiyosaya , May 11, 2012 8:12 PM
    Quote:
    Come January 2013, it anticipates that customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally as long as they're probably installed in the personal electronic device they're intended to power.
    Um, I'm sure you mean "properly installed."
  • 30 Hide
    nthreem , May 11, 2012 8:19 PM
    wiyosayaUm, I'm sure you mean "properly installed."

    You're properly right...
  • -8 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2012 8:19 PM
    Thank goodness
  • 11 Hide
    hellwig , May 11, 2012 8:30 PM
    Funny, I always thought you were supposed to disconnect the battery from the device before shipping. I mailed my mother an old Canon point-and-shoot and the clerk made sure the battery was disconnected. Not because it was LI-ON (she didn't ask), but because if the device turned itself on and started making noise, it was likely to be destroyed on the tarmac by the bomb squad.

    I think the hardest-hit here will be Apple product owners, with their non-removable LI-ON batteries. No more shipping your old 3GS to some company in India or China to get a few extra bucks. Although, I suppose there's always DHL.
  • 23 Hide
    lamorpa , May 11, 2012 8:33 PM
    Well that should help with the $3.2B losses per quarter...
  • 6 Hide
    turbolover22 , May 11, 2012 8:41 PM
    How is the USPS supposed to check if the battery is "probably" installed in the device? Are they going to open up every package?
  • 14 Hide
    aoneone , May 11, 2012 8:50 PM
    I predict one day that the show Mythbusters on the Discovery channel will test to see if Lithium-Ion based batteries in such devices 'really' do catch fire and/or explode in certain situations. Mark my words. >.
  • -4 Hide
    kikireeki , May 11, 2012 8:54 PM
    What a stupid decision! It is like: Tom's hardware is banning every PC-related Article.
  • 12 Hide
    rosen380 , May 11, 2012 9:07 PM
    There are billions of Li-Ion batteries in circulation-- how many burst into flames yearly? A couple, maybe?

    I'm guessing that the airlines carry more Li-Ion batteries in any given day then USPS does in six months...
  • 3 Hide
    perfectblue , May 11, 2012 9:18 PM
    Capitalism at its best...
  • 4 Hide
    CoolBOBob1 , May 11, 2012 9:20 PM
    rosen380There are billions of Li-Ion batteries in circulation-- how many burst into flames yearly? A couple, maybe? I'm guessing that the airlines carry more Li-Ion batteries in any given day then USPS does in six months...


    They are banning it temporarily, Li-ion batteries are more dangerous to an aircraft when they ship in bulk. When they are in devices they are less likely to start a chain reaction of Li-ion battery fires. They probably won't allow people to ship more than a couple per package or something of that sort.

    One reason for concern was the loss of UPS aircraft to fire that spread very fast and had a massive amount of smoke. It was determined to have started with a shipment of Li-ion batteries.

    Here's a link to the story from last year: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/apr/3/report-faults-batteries-plane-crash/

  • 1 Hide
    rosen380 , May 11, 2012 9:24 PM
    "when they ship in bulk"

    In that case it should be a non-issue for most consumers since few individuals ship Li-Ions in bulk. If I am selling a single used GPS unit on eBay, is that an issue? Maybe if most things people ship internationally through USPS contain Li-Ion batteries, but I'm assuming it is a pretty small percentage of the packages.
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 9:25 PM
    This is fine with me...really. Just please don't mess with FedEx's or UPS' ability to ship these things. ...or am I too late?
  • 2 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 9:26 PM
    kikireekiWhat a stupid decision! It is like: Tom's hardware is banning every PC-related Article.

    I'm not sure I'm following your analogy there but I think I understand the sentiment that was its catalyst.
  • -3 Hide
    memadmax , May 11, 2012 9:28 PM
    What can brown turds do for you???

    Luckily, FedEx pwns the brown turds everyday....
  • 5 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 9:36 PM
    memadmaxWhat can brown turds do for you???.

    I'm not certain about your physiology but having "brown turds" is generally not seen as unhealthy. I'm no doctor. I'm not sure how important color actually is but it often is affected by what the subject ate. If the food didn't have large quantities of coloring in it it will often be excreted as a "brown turd". ...and turds are...

    Oh, you meant UPS. :heink: 
  • 1 Hide
    drwho1 , May 11, 2012 9:46 PM
    This is non issue for me, after all when I ship anything that I want to make sure that I know when or if arrived at its destination, I use Fed-Ex.

    USPS tracking service is always been unreliable.
  • -1 Hide
    zoemayne , May 11, 2012 9:57 PM
    man this is dumb they are the most financially negative shipping company in the world and they pull this type of ish
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 10:00 PM
    I don't think it will be too much longer before Uncle Sam is needed to help keep the USPS afloat.
  • 1 Hide
    A Bad Day , May 11, 2012 10:02 PM
    rosen380There are billions of Li-Ion batteries in circulation-- how many burst into flames yearly? A couple, maybe? I'm guessing that the airlines carry more Li-Ion batteries in any given day then USPS does in six months...


    When one battery catches on fire in a cargo hold filled with several dozen tons of flammable objects ranging from paper to other electronics, then the poor pilot and copilot will get to soil their pants while trying to land a internally burning aircraft.

    And those hundreds or thousands of people depending on the USPS will be disappointed when they learned that their mail delivery was toasted. Literally.
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