Starting today, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will no longer allow lithium batteries or any products containing lithium batteries to be shipped to APO, FPO or DPO addresses.
The new rule applies regardless of the size, quantity or watt hours of the lithium battery. This means the shipping of all electronics containing a lithium battery, regardless of whether the battery is actually connected to the item, is prohibited.
This regulation will make it much more difficult for service members to receive electronics through the mail when stationed in overseas locations.
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The change is in response to the new standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union in an effort to mitigate the risks of fire. Lithium batteries have been known to spontaneously combust in flight and are suspected to have caused at least two cargo plane fires since 2006.
Despite these risks, the ban should be only temporary. Many other countries still allow the shipping of electronic goods within strict safety guidelines. The USPS anticipates that by January 1, 2013, new regulations will have been established to allow customers to once again mail lithium batteries internationally, as long the batteries are properly installed in the devices they are intended to operate.
Until January, service members stationed overseas can circumvent this new rule by mailing through private shipping companies such as UPS or FedEx, who are still willing to risk the transportation of electronic devices.
Unfortunately, this method of shipping is much more expensive than standard USPS. Another problem is that these companies do not ship directly to APO, FPO or DPO addresses, which means you will also need a civilian mailing address in the host country.
For now, service members are in a position to either accept the additional shipping charges or be forced to wait until they return stateside.
Photo courtesy of Plutor.