If you want to send an iPad, a Kindle Fire, an iPhone, a laptop, or a similar device overseas, now is the time to send it, because as of next week, the U.S. Postal Service will be banning all electronic gadgets that contain a lithium battery.
The reason? Those lithium batteries can potentially explode or catch fire when devices are shipped with a full charge, improperly stored, or improperly packed. Lithium battery related fire incidents have occurred 17 times on passenger flights since 2004, and have been implicated in at least one major crash of a UPS plane.
As a result of the ban, people who want to ship electronic devices to troops or to family overseas will have to use a private delivery service, such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx, which are pricy alternatives.
The ban, which was implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union, may not be permanent. USPS has told customers that by January 1, 2013, small shipments of electronics with lithium batteries may be able to be sent overseas, but until that date rolls around, people hoping to send the devices will have to shell out the cash for a private shipping company.
USPS’s refusal to ship devices with lithium batteries will have the greatest impact on military serving overseas (DHL and UPS do not deliver to APO or FPO boxes) and commercial resellers, who will have to increase shipping costs and rely on FedEx, DHL, and UPS, which still have challenges in countries like Russia.
The United States and Australia are the only countries that ban the overseas shipments of lithium batteries, while other countries, like the U.K. allow for smartphones and iPads while banning laptop computer batteries, and Japan, who restricts lithium batteries to sea mail. Some countries, like Germany, allow international air mail of lithium batteries with strict safety requirements.
USPS has not given a reason for the rush, and claims that it is just adhering to international guidelines. If you had any shipments planned, it’s best to get them out now, before the ban is in place and before the prices rise. Check out the graphic below for a guide on what’s going to be forbidden.
[via Fast Company]