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Lithium batteries OK for shipping overseas

Jan. 7, 2013 - 10:48AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 7, 2013 - 10:48AM  |  
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You now can ship electronics with lithium batteries overseas again since the U.S. Postal Service has lifted its ban — although restrictions apply.

Batteries installed in electronic devices are being accepted for shipments bound for many international locations, including APO, FPO and DPO locations.

But not every country is accepting shipments with lithium batteries. For example, Germany won't accept packages with lithium batteries destined for local German addresses, according to the U.S. Postal Service. But packages can be sent to U.S. military and diplomatic post offices in Germany.

For international shipping, lithium batteries must be properly installed in the equipment they're intended to operate, such as cell phones, laptops, cameras or flashlights. They can't be packed with, or sent separately from, their equipment.

Other requirements:

• Each shipment can contain a maximum of four lithium metal or lithium-ion cells or two lithium or lithium-ion batteries. A battery may contain more than one cell.

• Batteries installed in the equipment must be protected from damage and short circuit.

• The equipment must have an effective way to prevent it from being turned on or activated.

• The equipment must be packed in a strong, sealed package with cushioning to prevent movement or damage.

• For primary (nonrechargeable) lithium cells and batteries, such as those used to power cameras and flashlights, the lithium content can't be more than 1 gram per cell. The total lithium content can't be more than 2 grams per battery.

• For secondary (rechargeable) lithium-ion cells and batteries, such as those used to power cell phones and laptops, the lithium content can't be more than a 20 watt-hour rating (Wh) per cell, and the total content can't be more than a 100 Wh rating per battery. Each battery must have the Wh marking on the battery.

• Check the https://www.usps.com/">post office website to make sure you can ship lithium batteries to a particular country or APO, FPO or DPO location.

Click "Ship a Package," then "Prepare International Shipments" on left. For complete information, search the site using the name of the country and "lithium batteries."

The Postal Service implemented a ban May 16 on shipping lithium batteries to and from APO, FPO, DPO and other international addresses in response to new standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union. The rules banned lithium batteries in mail moving by international commercial air.

Lithium batteries have raised safety concerns in recent years because of their potential to overheat. The ban was tied to changes approved in February by the International Civil Aviation Organization's dangerous goods panel.

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