USPS to ban overseas shipments of electronics with lithium ion batteries

By on May 11, 2012, 3:30 PM

The United States Postal Service has announced that as of May 16, they will no longer deliver a wide assortment of electronics to consumers overseas. Any device that has a lithium ion battery falls under this ban, including tablets, smartphones, laptop computers and digital cameras.

It is thought that lithium ion batteries shipped when fully charged or not correctly stored or packaged could be a safety risk. Fast Company says that lithium ion batteries are believed to have caused at least two deadly cargo plane crashes in the past six years. One such crash happened in 2010 when a UPS cargo plane crashed roughly an hour after takeoff near Dubai.

The ban will likely have a large impact on US soldiers stationed overseas. USPS’ Military Priority Mail rate is far cheaper than any of the competition and furthermore, they are the only carriers that deliver to Army Post Office and Fleet Post Office installations.

Those wishing to send electronic gadgets to their loved ones will have to figure out a workaround. UPS, FedEx and DHL are all viable choices but none of them deliver to military mailboxes. It seems the only way around this hurdle is to have packages shipped to a residential address then arrange pickup or delivery from that point. Shipping rates for alternate delivery companies typically cost more than $20.

The USPS says they may change the rules for APO and FPO packages containing lithium ion batteries next year.

We have included a list of common items that contain lithium ion batteries, as per the USPS.

  • Video cameras
  • Walkie talkies (two-way radio)
  • GPS devices
  • Radio-controlled toys
  • Cameras
  • Scanners
  • Cell phones
  • MP3 players
  • Bluetooth headsets
  • Smartphones
  • Laptop computers
  • Electronic shavers
  • Power drills
  • Tablets
  • Portable DVD players
  • Electronic measuring equipment



User Comments: 43

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

Pathetic.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Pathetic.

What is so pathetic about a company trying to make a safer work environment?

Scshadow said:

Pathetic.

I don't agree. As farfetched as it sounds, if Lithium Ion batteries are causing safety issues, causing plane crashes, then they should ban them. I really don't see a purpose for banning it otherwise. I'm sorry the troops are affected because of the special lack of alternatives that only they have to suffer, but it is what it is.

Guest said:

and they wonder why they are slowly (forget slowly) going out of business... instead of increasing service levels they are decreasing them...

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

2 Cargo plane crashes past 2 years, read it again and tell me how many, oh yeah TWO. Any Scientific evidence to support the claim? If not, then there is nothing to discuss. I know its "at least 2" but I doubt its more then 5. Sure there shouldn't be any crashes regardless but if there is no evidence to back this claim up, then its just another hoax. Insure correct storage and discharge before shipping and then the problem will be fixed.

On the bright side, maybe they will try and create safer batteries or try and move onto a better and newer technology then LIBs that we have now.

(could go into more details but there is no need)

Guest said:

[link]

are u saying that the two guys that lost there life was just a hoax. ups say that it is no longer worth the risk carrying these things over seas, then u should just expect that and be thankful that this wont happen again (on a ups plane)

Tygerstrike said:

See I'm not buying this. Where is the evidence for this conclusion. Is there footage somewhere actually showing Lithium ion batteries exploding? Is it suspected of causing the crashes or is it a convient scapegoat for the USPS and poor overseas plane maintanence? I deal with Lithium batteries all the time, I have never ever had any issues. I would applaude them for taking these measures, but w/o more definative proof that it was the batteries then all they are doing is trying to justify the higher rates for overseas delivery. Which would nicely coincide with all the other USPS issues they are dealing with.

If this is such a big issue, why havent we seen fedex,ups, or usps planes crashing in the states due to batteries? I know for a fact that fedex handles a ton of lithium batteries and devices that use them.

Smell REAL fishy to me.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm sorry the troops are affected because of the special lack of alternatives that only they have to suffer, but it is what it is.
I'm not, I for one don't see any need in keeping troops on foreign soil. We should bring our troops home if we are not in a state of war.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

My knowledge of the shipping industry couldn't fill a thimble, but surely there's some way to transport batteries with minimal or no risk to workers? Even if it costs more, as I'm sure the couriers wouldn't lose sleep over passing that expense on to consumers. What am I missing? This just seems lazy for some reason.

ikesmasher said:

ok then we make lithium ion batterys safer in general so we dont have to avoid sending electronics to people..

A friend sent his bro overseas fightin an old hacked PSP in the mail, you would not believe how happy he was

Rasta211 said:

So you can travel with a mp3 player, phone, laptop computer, bluetooth headset on a plane but you can't ship them.

You mean to tell me 1 bluetooth headset can take down a plane? WoW!

1 person liked this | Chazz said:

You guys can't be serious. Just google the problem, there have been so many product recalls over battery issues it isn't even funny. If there is a chance then they need to evaluate it. They said they could change this next year so obviously they are looking into ways to make this problem a non issue, but since it is a issue atm they are taking the safest precaution for their employees.

They're being responsible and you guys are just being irrational. Sure your one "ipod" may not have an issue but these guys are dealing with thousands of them so the chance does increase.

Chazz said:

And at rasta, it's not the explosion that brings down the plane it is the fire. You should read the link that was posted by our guest.

Guest said:

If everything that caused two deaths in six years was banned...

You get the picture.

Guest said:

Just google the problem, there have been so many product recalls over battery issues it isn't even funny.

LOL. And how many of those recalls involved batteries that were still in the box? Try again.

Chazz said:

Just google the problem, there have been so many product recalls over battery issues it isn't even funny.

LOL. And how many of those recalls involved batteries that were still in the box? Try again.

"It is thought that lithium ion batteries shipped when fully charged or not correctly stored or packaged could be a safety risk."

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If everything that caused two deaths in six years was banned...

You get the picture.

Well two deaths, Aircrew consists of 2+ members but yeh.

Scshadow said:

I'm not, I for one don't see any need in keeping troops on foreign soil. We should bring our troops home if we are not in a state of war.

Good for you. Thats a completely different issue. All the troops we have everywhere for various reasons including those that don't involve combat doesn't have anything to do with USPS not being able to deliver Lithium Ion batteries overseas, just that we can't deliver to them. Do try and stay on subject.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Do try and stay on subject.
I didn't stray from the topic. I don't see delivery to our troops as an issue when it's my opinion our troops should be at home. Don't tell me I'm off topic, when delivery to our troops is a big part of the subject.

I don't think that came out exactly as intended. :/

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

gba sp batteries :o

Guest said:

All the other companies says : THANK U !!!

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

must have something to do with batteries at high altitudes...

Plenty of lithium ion batteries in storage and never a problem. At least 100 laptops, not to mention all the other electronic devices listed by USPS. Worst problem we get is the battery is completely dead because of a complete discharge over time, some sit for a long time, others only a month or two.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

I dunno, something I google'd up real quick and skimmed though, might be of interest to a few?

http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/2009highlights.pdf

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I didn't stray from the topic. I don't see delivery to our troops as an issue when it's my opinion our troops should be at home. Don't tell me I'm off topic, when delivery to our troops is a big part of the subject.

I don't think that came out exactly as intended. :/

Well, the government has a massive fleet of cargo aircraft, funded by the taxpayers. If the issue is our military will have to do without their comfort devices, then the logistics need to shift to transporting those devices in military planes.

I do think the troops being brought home because they can't get their rechargeable batteries is a bit flimsy.

The most ironic part of having an all volunteer army, is how everybody complains when they're deployed. I thought that's what armies did, fight. Do you just sign up, and pray there's no conflict until you have your 30 years of service? Wasn't possible war in the recruitment brochure?

Using the same logic, I'm going to apply for a job as a trash man, then complain when they put me on the truck, and expect me to pick up trash. I though they'd let me sit in the break room for 30 years.

That's awful isn't it? I'm jus' kiddin'! I know the truth is a much brighter picture. We need a military so we can have airshows and parades.

treetops treetops said:

I didn't stray from the topic. I don't see delivery to our troops as an issue when it's my opinion our troops should be at home. Don't tell me I'm off topic, when delivery to our troops is a big part of the subject.

I don't think that came out exactly as intended. :/

Well, the government has a massive fleet of cargo aircraft, funded by the taxpayers. If the issue is our military will have to do without their comfort devices, then the logistics need to shift to transporting those devices in military planes.

I do think the troops being brought home because they can't get their rechargeable batteries is a bit flimsy.

The most ironic part of having an all volunteer army, is how everybody complains when they're deployed. I thought that's what armies did, fight. Do you just sign up, and pray there's no conflict until you have your 30 years of service? Wasn't possible war in the recruitment brochure?

Using the same logic, I'm going to apply for a job as a trash man, then complain when they put me on the truck, and expect me to pick up trash. I though they'd led me sit in the break room for 30 years.

That's awful isn't it? I'm jus' kiddin'! I know the truth is a much brighter picture. We need a military so we can have airshows and parades.

That's not awful at all its not like they are drafted Iv felt the same way for a while. I love the troops but you all volunteered suck it up. I do not know why people are doubting the validity of the story, if they weren't such a danger they sure as hell wouldn't want to lose out on all that $$.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

That's not awful at all its not like they are drafted Iv felt the same way for a while. I love the troops but you all volunteered suck it up. I do not know why people are doubting the validity of the story, if they weren't such a danger they sure as hell wouldn't want to lose out on all that $$.
Well, this thread has gone AWOL of the topic. In truth, our troops do have a legitimate gripe about being asked to fight the second war in Iraq. George Bush didn't finish the 1st Iraq war, Saddam Hussein tried to have him killed, and his mental defective son Wubba, decided he was going to avenge the affair. The only person in the George W, Bush administration with any sense was Colin Powell, and he bailed right after they couldn't find "weapons of mass destruction". (Probably from sheer embarrassment). Cheyney and Rumsfield declared the war, George W, Bush is, was, and always will be, a meat puppet.

I suppose "political correctness" prevented it, but Saddam's "retreating" army torched every oil well in Kuwait on the way back home. Thank God I wasn't the commander, I would have refused their "surrender" killed every one to the last man, then nuked Baghdad. But, I have issues, so pay me no mind.....

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm not sure if this counts or anything, but back in 2007 when there was a big recall on Lithium batteries for laptops, I remember coming across a Macbook Pro that had a failed battery which FUSED itself to a desk with one of those laminate finishes, had to take the entire desk out with the laptop and luckily did not have to twist Apple's arm very hard for a replacement. If that had been paper (cardboard) or styrofoam, I'm sure there would have been a fire.

Again, I don't know if such a catastrophic failure has anything to do with this, but it has been something I've come across personally, so I can see some validity to why they'd do it, but at the same time question why of all times they're doing it.

This might be an interesting read about how the FAA has tested fire fighting for lithium batteries. If anything it shows a serious concern/consideration for these kinds of batteries: [link]

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I'm not sure if this counts or anything, but back in 2007 when there was a big recall on Lithium batteries for laptops, I remember coming across a Macbook Pro that had a failed battery which FUSED itself to a desk with one of those laminate finishes, had to take the entire desk out with the laptop and luckily did not have to twist Apple's arm very hard for a replacement. If that had been paper (cardboard) or styrofoam, I'm sure there would have been a fire.

Again, I don't know if such a catastrophic failure has anything to do with this, but it has been something I've come across personally, so I can see some validity to why they'd do it, but at the same time question why of all times they're doing it.

There were many stories like yours during that period. One that was comical was published by PC World mag, had a laptop in a gun rack, destroying a pickup truck. It was comical due to the juxtaposition of the redneck out hunting with a laptop in the gun rack. Sort of like a "what's wrong with this picture" scenario.

In any event USPS had 5 years to make this decision, since the danger of fire stories are mostly from that period. I though they had cured the problem, and our post office, a day late, and a dollar short, just read the memo last week, and decided to do something about it.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I do think the troops being brought home because they can't get their rechargeable batteries is a bit flimsy.
Next time I reply, maybe I should type out a five page report to make sure my words are not taken out of context.

Our troops should have been brought home when the war was considered to be over. But now that we are still lingering around a decade later, the issues of sending things in the mail are effecting our troops. But since I don't understand why we are still lingering around, for me there is confusion as to why we now see an issue with sending them mail instead of bringing them home. There are downfalls to sending items with batteries other than sending to our troops. I do see an issue with sending items in the mail, never once was I suggesting otherwise.

On the flip side, I doubt we ever have to worry about anyone waging war on us again. Not because they are afraid of us but because they don't want us moving in with them for the next three decades.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I do think the troops being brought home because they can't get their rechargeable batteries is a bit flimsy.
Next time I reply, maybe I should type out a five page report to make sure my words are not taken out of context.
You'll do no such thing. Someone could probably take words out of context from an encyclopedia size volume. Why would you think only 5 pages would stop me from making sport of that? :p

On the flip side, I doubt we ever have to worry about anyone waging war on us again. Not because they are afraid of us but because they don't want us moving in with them for the next three decades.
Well Clifford, that's both silly and non sequitur. Nobody since Japan has actually declared war on us. Al Queada is a terrorist organization, with no sovereign territory. Hence, any "declaration of war" by them is moot. They simply don't have the authority. What they have is the delusion they have the authority....

The reality is much more like we're normally being accused of, which would be, "American Imperialist Pig Dogs". We have a massive defense industry. What fun would it be if we weren't allowed to summarily blow up a third world country with its products?

That's like having a cell phone, and nobody to call with it.

Nima304 said:

We can travel with lithium ion batteries but can't ship them? That's a bit weird. Also, 2 plane crashes in six years doesn't seem like that much to provoke such a ban.

Guest said:

they need to give more detail. which types of batteries are bringing down the aircraft. all google comes up with is a safety issue of these batteries having a potential to explode. how are enabled to say explode on a cargo plane?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well Clifford, that's both silly and non sequitur. Nobody since Japan has actually declared war on us. Al Queada is a terrorist organization, with no sovereign territory. Hence, any "declaration of war" by them is moot. They simply don't have the authority. What they have is the delusion they have the authority....
Tell that to who ever declared "We Are At War". It was declared a war and will never be seen differently.

I'm out of this thread because this is definitely off topic. But for you to make a silly comment while calling my comment silly is going a bit far.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Tell that to who ever declared "We Are At War". It was declared a war and will never be seen differently.

I'm out of this thread because this is definitely off topic. But for you to make a silly comment while calling my comment silly is going a bit far.

No Clifford I'm commenting because of this:
On the flip side, I doubt we ever have to worry about anyone waging war on us again. Not because they are afraid of us but because they don't want us moving in with them for the next three decades.
Iraq or Afghanistan never actually were at war with us. Were were the aggressors. You just have the logic inverted. I see your point. But, those countries didn't actually "declare war on us". They were harboring terrorists. In the case of Iraq, They never "declared war" on us. They invaded Kuwait".

I guess my point was this, your post was ironic. In the fact that,the countries we've "invited ourselves to stay in for decades", didn't make that choice, we did.

If you listen to all the Jihhadist bullshit, every country in the middle east is at war with the US, (save for Israel), every day, every month, every year, of every decade. My point is this, wars are started by nations, not bands of hoodlums in turbans. So, we're just at a semantic impasse, nothing serious, and nothing more.

The use of "war", as either a noun or verb, breaks into several subtexts. It could be "sabre rattling", it could be a propaganda slogan, or it could be a formal declaration by a sovereign nation, and that is the most accurate definition.

If you think about it, politics and time have eroded "we're at war with Afghanistan", to, "the war IN Afghanistan".

"Modern warfare" with places like China or Pakistan would be utterly futile in the first place. Why, you ask? You simply couldn't kill enough people in either country to get your grievance solved , without pissing off everybody else on the planet.

And this is why the US failed in Vietnam, no matter how many Viet Cong or NVA regulars we killed, China kept pumping more bodies and weapons into North Vietnam. We "invited ourselves to stay" for a couple of decades in South Vietnam, after the French, as is typical of them, failed to protect their own interests. Which were, guarding the Michelin rubber plantations.

Tygerstrike said:

All I see is suposition. I see no reports or heavy duty studies to confirm that Lithium batteries do anything at any altitude. As many have posted above, they will let you fly with your MP3 player your smartphone or your tablet, but wont ship overseas. I STILL say this is the USPS doing whatever they can to justify increasing their profits. I have seen Lithium batteries completly misshaped. Utterly deformed. Swollen to almost bursting. I deal with every single item on the USPS list at some point in my week at work. And I have NEVER seen anything that would leave me to believe their claims.

Im more inclined to agree that the problem is shoddy maintenece. Especially overseas where regulatory agencies can be bought off with very little effort. All this smells like a smokescreen. An easy justification. Blame it on electronic devices that are shipped. Nevermind the fact that most ppl who are going to fly are going to have their personal electronics fully charged before they get on the plane. So they have something to do. That means fully charged devices arent exploding or melting while they are at the same altitude as the product being shipped in the belly of the plane. It just doesnt add up.

1 + 1 isnt equalling 2. Its equaling fish.....

Guest said:

There Doing it for another reason I own a cell phone store I buy phones then sell em on ebay this month I have lost all the phones in transit WTF 15 of them ? I think they were stolen no other way as soon they get to a specific center its gone hmmm good think I put insurance on them but theres always problems with buyers sigh just recently I ive lost all of them normally its like 1 or 3 a month but this has gone tooo far ....

Guest said:

This is very stupid. If these batteries were such a risk they would be banned from being used period.

Only time these batteries are a risk is if you puncture, overheat or overcharge one.

Guest said:

There goes cheap shipping/imports.... how can USPS be the only one banning this? UPS, Fedex etc must be rejoicing and suddenly reviewing their shipping price for this :(

Guest said:

Yeah, but how fast do you think they will go out of business if they ignore the safety regulation, that was written by the International Civil Aviation Organization - NOT the post office, and smuggle these dangerous goods onto the passenger aircraft in violation of our international treaties, and the passenger airplane explodes, killing 3 or 4 hundred innocent people? Have you really thought your position through?

Guest said:

Tygerstrike, you are completely clueless when you say " I STILL say this is the USPS doing whatever they can to justify increasing their profits. " First of all, the rule was written by the International Civil Aviation Organization, not USPS. USPS is simply complying with the rule. How in the world you think USPS can increase its profits by refusing to carry mail is beyond my understanding.

Guest said:

Tygerstrike: Are you really unaware of the hazards of lithium batteries. Just go to YouTube and watch some of the videos of the things exploding and burning. Maybe you would put YOUR kids on an airplane carrying unknown numbers of them in its cargo hold, but I am not putting MINE on that plane. Fortunately, more people agree with me than with you so the damn things can't go in the hold - if you want to bring one on a passenger plane you have to carry it on so you will know if its burning.

Guest said:

On 11/9 USPS announced that the Lithium Ion Ban would be lifted on 11/15/12. Here is link to a page with all relevent info:

[link]

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

IMO, not only should they ban the shipment of LiO batteries anywhere in the 3rd world, but all electronic devices as well. Weight the issue for yourself. Are the batteries more likely to be used for A: mobile devices to allow women to attend classes online, or B: improvised explosive devices?

Oh, and we should also go back to working on the neutron bomb.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.