This just in…
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.
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 31–32, in the article titled “IMM Revision: Outbound International Mailings of Lithium Batteries and Other Dangerous Goods.”
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.
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.
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.