US Postal Service to stop international shipping of gadgets because of battery fears

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Image: Steve Johnson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The US Postal Service is about to make those who live outside the US that wants an iPad or an Amazon Kindle a bit more expensive after it has decided to ban all international shipments that has lithium ion batteries – which are present in many electronics.

This means that those who want to get video cameras, GPS devices, the aforementioned iPad and Kindles, smartphones, laptops, electric shavers, MP3 players and scanners – among others which can be found below (via Fast Company) – from the US to their home in, let’s say, Australia will now have to use expensive shipping services from UPS, DHL and FedEx.

However, it would be far more quicker as well.

The USPS has decided to stop shipments after fears of the batteries exploding or catch fire under certain conditions – but that is only if it is fully charged, or improperly stored or packed. Many electronics companies tend to ship products with little charge so the safety risk is lowered.

Another reason for the ban was because of international mail rules do not permit lithium batteries. However, the USPS notes:

International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organiza­tion (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and the Postal Service anticipates that on January 1, 2013, cus­tomers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium bat­teries internationally (including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location) when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate.

However, according to Fast Company, the other major postal service that has similar restrictions on lithium batteries is us – Australia Post. The UK’s Royal Mail lets you ship smartphones, Kindles and iPads while not letting you ship computer batteries; while Germany’s Bundespost lets you ship products with lithium batteries within their safety requirements. Japan’s own mail service also let you ship lithium batteries – but only via the sea.

For Australians, this is more bad news for online shopping. The Age is reporting that Australians will have to pay more for fashion brands with local importers reaching agreements with international brands to stop their clothes being sold to Australians – and just only Australians. So basically, as they have put it, “it means shoppers will no longer be able to save up to 50 percent by buying labels from overseas”.

Half a dozen distributors have reached agreements to set prices or even limit the supply online to Australians. In some cases, it has resulted in geoblocking.

But if there is a will, there will be a way to circumvent this restriction.

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