May 15, 2012
UPDATE:USPS has since announced that they are resuming shipping Lithium batteries. Read our update.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has recently announced that they will stop delivering international shipments containing lithium batteries effective May 16. This will also include shipments going to military post office boxes (APO/FPO).
The news was delivered by many outlets including FastCompany, where it was announced that USPS will no longer be delivering products containing lithium batteries to international locations due to concerns over fire or explosion. Despite the fact that most items are shipped with a minimal electric charge, the risk of a battery-fire emergency is still high when products containing these batteries are improperly packaged. USPS is looking for temporary alternatives to put in place before January 1, 2013, when customers will once again be able to ship specific quantities of lithium batteries to international locations.
Fortunately, the ban only affects USPS. FedEx, UPS and other carriers will continue to deliver products with lithium batteries to international recipients. The truth is that as long as proper safety requirements are met, transport of lithium batteries is safe, and so far only USPS and Australia Post have enacted this ban on international battery transport.
This is one of the numerous situations where having multiple warehouse locations internationally becomes useful. Shipping products to your European or Canadian customers would no longer be possible with USPS, however since Royal Mail and Canada Post have no such ban in effect, you could continue to deliver the products to your customers for the same low price you're used to seeing.
A short list of products which are affected by this decision was provided. You can click the image below for the full version:
Shipwire's intelligent platform will pick alternate carriers so that orders continue to be processed, however it is important for merchants to work with us to identify the products which contain lithium batteries.
We are already getting in touch with our merchants about this. If you have not been contacted yet, please reach out to our customer care team here or by calling at (888)SHIPWIRE if you have products you believe will be affected.