Update: USPS removed the ban and once again will accept lithium batteries to be shipped around the world!
If you’re selling products online and those products are electronics, I’m sorry to have bad news for you!
Up until now, US sellers who were selling electronics online and ship them globally could take advantage of the ability to have the customer pay for custom fees when shipping by USPS.
Other international carriers like FedEx would deliver the goods then notify the buyer to pay custom fees.
However, if the buyer won’t pay custom fees, the carrier would debit the shipper account for the fees.
Looks like US electronics sellers, like myself, have another hoop to jump through now!
The bad news is, effective today May 16, 2012, US Postal Service banned shipping lithium batteries (rechargeable or non-rechargeable) to international destinations including APO, FPO, and DPO!!
In plain English, you cannot ship iPods, iPhones, laptops, tablets, cameras, camcorders, GPSs, and many other electronics to international destinations by any US Postal Service shipping service!
That means your international shipping costs will be higher because you have to use another international delivery service and pay higher international shipping charges AND potentially pay for custom fees yourself.
The funny part is that USPS is absolutely fine if you ship tens of MP3 players with lithium batteries domestically including US territories.
So it would be fine to ship batteries or devices with batteries from Seattle to Puerto Rico via Airmail but it’s not ok to ship the same thing from New York to Montreal (shorter distance) with any USPS shipping service.
Is This a Good Decision?
Honestly, they’re making trouble for themselves and for people.
It’s trouble for them because USPS recently reported $3.2 Billion loss just in the first quarter of 2012 so they need to generate more business but they are cutting a lot of business!
USPS is actually transferring their business to other global carriers like FedEx, UPS, DHL or others.
It’s trouble for people because not only sellers will have to find a way to cope with this new policy but even people who want to send gifts to their loved ones overseas (including military and diplomatic destinations) would have to turn to other global carriers and pay even more than before.
The reason USPS made this move cannot be based on danger of shipping batteries as some domestic shipments go a longer distance than some international shipments.
I’m not sure what was the real reason behind this decision but from outside it seems like a bad decision for eveyone.
Hopefully, USPS will explain more details about why they made this move.
You can read USPS announcement here.
How Can US Online Sellers Cope With The New USPS Policy?
Well, when shipping laptops, I can remove the battery, ship the laptop with USPS and ship the battery with another international delivery service but that doesn’t work when shipping other electronics like iPods.
Another solution is to forget about “United States Postal Service” and ship my electronic items globally by another international delivery service.
Both of these remedies increase my overall international shipping costs. So I have to increase my prices or increase my international shipping charges.
Will it mean reduced business for me? How will buyers react to that? I don’t know yet.
How About You?
Do you sell electronics online? How do you plan to cope with this USPS new policy? What’s your opinion?