The USPS is moving to ban Lithium Ion batteries and devices containing them. While the ban is expected to be lifted on January 13th, it will have large effect. This ban is due to the probability that fully or improperly charged Lithium Ion batteries can fail catastrophically when shipped incorrectly. Issues linked to the resulting fire have taken down several planes during shipping, including at least one UPS plane.
The ban not only pertains to bare batteries but products that contain them. Which means it affects phones, tablets, Kindles, portable “massagers”, and the like. Basically, any modern rechargeable gadget is the target of the ban.
The move not only affects cheap shipping for your eBay purchases, but also APO/FPO addresses, as Fedex smart post has also banned Lithium Ion batteries. This means that private shipping to a private address will be the only way to get that shiny new tablet or smartphone to your loved ones serving abroad. The costs can be increased between 2-10 times normal rates when using private shipping to overseas APO/FPO recipients, so it is not minor.
This will create a small boon for private shipping as it becomes the only game in town, especially for person to person shipping. However even that may have a time limit as international shipping federations tighten their loosely binding rules on shipping the batteries internationally.
Groups such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) are said to have been responsible for the pressure on the USPS to enact the ban. Their rules on the matter are so ambiguous you would need an army of lawyers to understand them, so it is easy to see how the USPS caved to their demands.
For now you will just have a lighter wallet if you plan to send a Kindle Fire or unlocked HTC to a friend or family member between now and January. Hope you weren’t planning to stand on your money clip to appear taller.
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