If you know someone serving in the military whom you would like to send an e-reader, iPad, or other device powered by lithium-ion batteries, better send it now. As of May 16th, the US Postal Service is banning the international shipment of lithium-ion batteries or devices containing them due to the potential safety hazard of the batteries exploding on board mail planes. (This only applies to international shipments, not domestic.)

Neither UPS, DHL, nor FedEx ships directly to APO, FPO, or DPO addresses. FedEx offers a service for military boxes, SmartPost, which is subject to the same restrictions. After May 16, mailing an iPad to a loved one serving overseas would require mailing it to a civilian address in the host country–which, for a country like Kuwait, would make the price jump from the current Military Priority Mail rate of $5.30 to more than $20.

This is going to make it tricky (and more expensive) to send an e-reader to the troops. The postal service may relax these restrictions somewhat as of January 1, 2013, allowing limited shipment of devices that have batteries already installed in them, but until then would-be iPad-senders will be largely out of luck.

(Found via Gizmodo.)


  1. I wonder how many batteries have exploded? Is this restriction really necessary or is it just another over-reaction?

    E-readers have been shipped overseas for years. I think that if there was an exploding e-reader problem, we would have heard about it somewhere. This restriction is for military planes only. So we’re to believe that lithium batteries explode on military planes but are safe on domestic flights?

  2. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that somewhere along the line someone misinterpreted the type of battery they’re talking about. especially since the source of this article is gizmodo who have become really bad at this stuff lately.

  3. @January, actually you aren’t supposed to pack lithium batteries in your checked luggage on domestic flights either (at least according to Delta) so the restriction is there, it’s just pretty much ignored/unknown. Something I didn’t realize until a recent trip to Florida.

  4. Brian, the restriction you mention is on loose batteries, not batteries installed in equipment. I believe it was the TSA that set that restriction, but the intention was not to stop the packing of electronics.

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