New regulations set to take effect on May 16th mean that the United States Postal Service will stop shipping iPads, Kindles, and any other devices that runs on Lithium batteries overseas, due to the risks those batteries pose to the aircraft the USPS uses to transport overseas shipments.
Over the past few years there have been several reports of planes owned by shipping companies like UPS crashing when shipments of lithium batteries caught fire in the planes’ holds. Inside most forms of lithium battery is a pressurized canister holding a flammable liquid containing in which the lithium is suspended. During the pressure changes associated with air travel, sometimes these batteries can overheat and burst, causing a fire. In one of the most famous instances, a UPS 747 was en route from Dubai to Cologne, Germany with a large shipment of lithium batteries. During the flight the batteries caught fire. Despite efforts to turn around and return to Dubai, the plane ultimately crashed, killing both the pilot and co-pilot.
In an effort to avoid such mishaps in the future, the USPS will stop accepting devices with lithium and lithium ion batteries for international shipment beginning next week. You can read the USPS’s new regulation’s here.
The USPS provided Fast Company with a graphic showing some of the items that are can no longer be shipped. It’s a pretty long list, including power tools, video cameras, mobile phones, computers, and even electric shavers.
Unfortunately, this means that shipments of such devices to, for example, soldiers stationed overseas, can no longer be handled by the USPS. Such shipments will now have to go through a private shipping service like UPS, FedEx, or DHL, all of which are considerably more expensive than the USPS.