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USPS changes the rules for shipping lithium batteries

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DMM Revision: Mailings of Lithium Batteries

Effective May 16, 2012, the Postal Service™ will revise Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) section 601.10.20 to codify that 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. However, this prohibition does not apply to lithium batter­ies authorized under DMM 601.10.20 when mailed within the United States or its territories.

International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organiza­tion (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and the Postal Service anticipates that on January 1, 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.

Until such time that a less restrictive policy can be implemented consistent with international standards, and in accordance with UPU Convention, lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail. The UPU Convention and regulations are consistent with the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (Technical Instructions). The Technical Instructions con­cerning the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Post do not permit “dangerous goods” as defined by the ICAO Techni­cal Instructions in international mail. The prohibition on mailing lithium batteries and cells internationally also applies to mail sent by commercial air transportation to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location.

In addition, we will revise and renumber Exhibit 601.10.20.7 to reflect “watt-hour ratings” instead of “lith­ium content” for secondary lithium-ion batteries when describing maximum quantity limits.

Finally, the Postal Service has moved the lithium battery standards as it relates to international, APO, FPO, or DPO locations, to the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, International Mail Manual (IMM®). These standards appear in this Postal Bulletin on pages 3132, in the article titled “IMM Revision: Outbound International Mailings of Lithium Batteries and Other Dangerous Goods.”

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM)

10.20.6 Secondary Lithium-ion (Rechargeable) Cells and Batteries

[Revise 10.20.6 as follows:]

Small consumer-type lithium-ion cells and batteries like those used to power cell phones and laptop computers are mailable domestically under the following conditions. Mail­ing batteries internationally, or to and from APO, FPO, or DPO destinations is prohibited regardless of mail class. See IMM 136 for details.

a. General. The following additional restrictions apply to the mailability of all secondary (rechargeable) lithium-ion cells and batteries:

1. The lithium content must not exceed 20 Wh (Watt-hour rating) per cell.

2. The total aggregate lithium content must not exceed 100 Wh per battery.

3. Each cell or battery must meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, and subsection 38.3 as referenced in DOTs haz­ardous materials regulation at 49 CFR 171.7.

4. The mailpiece must not contain more than three batteries.

5. All outer packages must have a complete delivery and return address.

b. Installed In Equipment. The following additional restric­tions apply to the mailing of secondary cells or batteries properly installed in equipment they operate:

1. The batteries installed in the equipment must be protected from damage and short circuit.

2. The equipment must be equipped with an effec­tive means of preventing it from being turned on or activated.

3. The equipment must be cushioned to prevent movement or damage and be contained in a strong enough sealed package to prevent crush­ing of the package or exposure of the contents during normal handling in the mail. The shipment must be mailed in a strong outer package.

c. Mailed With Equipment. The following additional re­strictions apply to the mailing of secondary cells or batteries shipped with (but not installed in) the device or equipment being mailed:

1. The shipment cannot contain more batteries than the number needed to operate the device, up to three batteries.

2. The secondary lithium cells and batteries must be packaged separately and cushioned to prevent movement or damage.

3. The shipment must be contained in a strong enough sealed package to prevent crushing of the package or exposure of the contents during nor­mal handling in the mail.

4. The outside of the package must be marked on the address side “Package Contains Lithium-ion Batteries (no lithium metal).”

d. Mailed Without Equipment. The following additional restrictions apply to the mailing of secondary cells or batteries without equipment:

1. The secondary lithium cells and batteries must be mailed in “the originally sealed packaging” and no more than three batteries.

2. The sealed packages of batteries must be sepa­rated and cushioned to prevent short circuit, movement, or damage.

3. The shipment must be contained in a strong enough sealed package to prevent crushing of the package or exposure of the contents during nor­mal handling in the mail.

4. The outside of the package must be marked on the address side “Package Contains Lithium-ion Batteries (no lithium metal).”

(from http://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2012/pb22336/html/updt_004.htm)

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