U.S. Postal Service Bans Shipping of iPads and Other Gadgets Beginning on May 16

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]

About Juli: Contact me via Twitter: @julipuli

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001718285604 Douglas Jacobs

    Anyone who can afford a nice new iPad can afford to ship it UPS, Fedex or DHL.  This isn’t a big deal.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WTHOMHZSMJDKIBZ7CNEPYNWJVM Bob B

      It’s a big deal if you’re in the military, where UPS/FedEx/DHL cannot deliver, but USPS previously could.

  • JamesKatt

    US Postal Service:  cutting off its nose despite its deficits.  And punishing our men in Military along the way.

    • LiamSkye

      I guess you forgot to read the article. USPS is subject to international air shipping regulations because it doesn’t own any airplanes and must fly its materials on commercial airliners. Since those commercial airlines will no longer carry this material, it can not be sent. The internet is your friend – learn to use it.

  • http://thebestsmartphone2012.com/ Best Smartphone

    Let me guess, is it because of the sorry arse public sector Union thing
    or just some foaming at the mouth leftist bureaucrat? I’m sure FED X and
    UPS will pick up the slack and profits. Oh thats right the USPS can’t
    run a profit because like all things government they can’t manage sh!t.

    • LiamSkye

      Let me guess, is it because of some gap-toothed slack-jawed ignorant rube or just some other foaming at the mouth Rush-guzzler? No it guess it is really just about international safety regulations regarding carrying dangerous goods in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft. We knew that there was really a logical reason, now didn’t we?

  • LiamSkye

    There might or might not be retardedness occurring, but there is certainly none on the part of USPS. They are simply complying with a safety regulation written by the International Civil Aviation Organization which has declared that there can be no undeclared lithium batteries in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft. The logic should be pretty transparent. If you are carrying one and it bursts into flames you, the flight crew, and the other passengers will extinguish it. If there is one in the cargo hold and it bursts into flames you, the flight crew, and the other passengers will die. I think somebody IS looking at what they do and I am glad that they are doing so.

    • Mauritian

      So, why is it that DHL, UPS & Fedex are still allowed to ship products containing lithium batteries? Pure discrimination!

  • LiamSkye

    You don’t know anything at all about USPS do you? They are not authorized by federal law to charge dangerous goods surcharges. They carry a very limited amount of dangerous goods and the special handling required makes all of it a money loser. You privatistas should be dancing a jig – this is what you wanted, isn’t it: Pay private carriers 5 times as much to carry your goods.

    • Mauritius

      A solution could be found to the satisfaction of one and all, simply stopping the shipment of such products will penalise USPS and the customers as well…one solution would be to pack the batteries separately ans cautiously, or batteries should not hold any charge while being shipped etc..

  • LiamSkye

    They are all banned from the cargo holds of passenger aircraft.