USPS Will Not Ship Li-ion Batteries Internationally 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 probably installed in the personal electronic device they're intended to power.

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  • dizzy_davidh
    It doesn't matter whether the batteries are inserted into a device or not if the true reason is as stated ('lithium ion batteries can catch fire or explode under certain circumstances and improperly stored or fully charged can pose a risk on flights') because the circumstances they are referring to in the full statement are those of un-pressurized and temperature-unregulated cargo holds of aircraft in which battery cells can behave differently due to the extremes of temperature they can be exposed to (very cold in some cases) and\or low pressure resulting in expansion of soft-cells that are used in many small consumer electronics.

    Hard lithium cells found in most laptop batteries shouldn't pose a threat and so the this USPS policy seems to be some weird 'catch-all regardless' policy to save them from actually having to argue with customers what they can and cant ship.

    With the new policy relating to just international shipments however it does seem more likely that this new policy relates to the legality of shipping certain types of batteries (the same legislation that recently brought a British guy to the attention of the US authorities for supposedly shipping batteries to the middle-east for missile systems). In stopping such battery shipments they cover their asses legally as to any potential blame under similar circumstances.

    I would expect other carriers to bring in the same rule before too long.