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USPS Bans Lithium Shipments Outside US

Fire, explosion hazard sparked the unexpected policy change.

U.S. sellers will not be able to use the U.S. Postal Service to ship lithium batteries—or items that contain these—to places outside the country, starting on Wednesday.

The USPS unexpectedly enacted a ban on international shipment of the batteries and items that contain them. The ban is meant for rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, and devices that have removable and non-removable lithium batteries, like cameras, tablets, scanners, MP3 players, power drills, remote control toys and other devices, according to news reports.

USPS says the ban should be lifted at the beginning of next year. However, at that time, only specific amounts of lithium batteries will be allowed to be shipped internationally if they are installed in the devices they’re meant for.

According to news reports, fully charged lithium batteries pose a fire hazard and can explode under certain conditions. This hazard sparked a discussion between the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union, two organizations that provide guidelines for international trade, which led to USPS’ decision to ban lithium batteries in international trade.

Lithium batteries and products that contain them can still be mailed outside the U.S. via FedEx, UPS, DHL and other mailing services, but these often charge higher fees.

Rebecca Miller, an eBay seller of more than 12 years, says the ban could impact a lot of sellers “out of the blue.”

“There are a lot of items that you wouldn’t think contain lithium batteries,” she notes. “It’s too bad there wasn’t more notice about this, so that sellers could’ve updated their items that would be banned if shipped via the USPS, and revise them to not include international shipping, or at the very least, change to a carrier that still allows the item.”

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About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Perhaps USPS has been adviced  by US govt about terrorism threats

  • Thetech4

    Thank you USPS for essentially driving me out of business.
    I buy used and defective electronics, and then resell them refurbished.  I am essentially now without any other source of revenue, and stuck with 1000’s of dollars of inventory that I can no longer ship by mail, nor can I get more merchandise to fix and resell.

  • da ha

    Total BS THe Fed governent is doing all it can to destroy the US economy. Our leaders are not that stupid. They know what they are doing

  • Meantime5

    TheTech4 is right, resellers of used laptops and other battery operated electronics have been wiped out by this new rule. The can’t buy or sell now, unless they use the more expensive services, which will also put them at peril by chewing their profits.  I wander how the used electronics market will survive. 

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