From 16 May it will not be possible to ship iPads, iPhones or laptops overseas from the US using the United States Postal Service (USPS).
USPS believes that lithium batteries - which feature in devices including the iPad, iPhone, MacBooks, and other smartphones, laptops, and tablets - pose too great of a risk to be shipped overseas. An amendment to the company's documentation states: "lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail."
The USPS will still allow these products to be shipped within the US. UPS and FedEx will continue to ship such items overseas, however.
The revised Mailings of Lithium Batteries document states: "Primary lithium metal or lithium alloy (nonrechargeable) cells and batteries or secondary lithium-ion cells and batteries (rechargeable) are prohibited when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location".
USPS will lift the restriction in January 2013, however. The document explains: "On 1 January 2013, customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally (including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location) when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate."
The January 2013 modification is due to changes in international standards that USPS is aware of following discussion with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). "International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU)," states USPS in its documentation.
Apple is reported to have opposed stricter regulations restricting lithium-battery shipments by air.
The reason for regulations regarding the transportation of lithium-batteries by air is that they can spontaneously combust. The UN rules, which will become effective on 1 January 2013, state that pilots must be notified when lithium batteries are on a flight, shipments should be labelled as hazardous materials, and employees should have training in handling such cargo.
There have been several plane crashes directly attributed to exploding lithium batteries in the last few years, according to reports.