If a friend asks you to send along an old phone, or you’re selling on a social media marketplace, there are some limitations you should be aware of with USPS.
First of all, can you mail a cell phone with battery USPS, and if so, what does USPS require to safely do so? See below for the very important answer you seek!
Can You Mail a Cell Phone With Batteries Through USPS In 2023?
You can mail a cell phone with a lithium battery via the United States Postal Service in 2023. However, you must follow strict safety measures to ensure these highly flammable batteries do not catch fire en route. This includes both watt-hour rating guidelines and packaging best practices, including a special sticker indicating the presence of lithium battery within.
Let’s delve into how you can safely ship a cell phone using the Postal Service, what special label you need and where you can get it, and even if you can ship alkaline batteries, too!
How Do You Ship a Cell Phone Through USPS?
You must be especially careful when shipping a cell phone with a lithium battery via the United States Postal Service.
First, make sure you have a sturdy cardboard box; this can be your own, or if you’re shipping Flat Rate, you can pick up a box for free from the Post Office (or order online for free).
Your shipping options are:
- First-Class Package (provided the parcel weighs less than 13 ounces)
- Priority Mail or Priority Mail Flat Rate (the small box is perfect for shipping phones)
- Priority Mail Express
First-Class Package is probably going to be the cheapest option, but it will also be the slowest; Priority Mail is the next fastest, but Priority Mail Express has next-day or 2-day delivery.
When you have your shipping option selected and your box ready for packaging, you’ll want to prepare the phone.
That means ensuring that the battery is securely attached to the phone; the attachment is what keeps the battery “grounded” or stable.
You must also ensure that the phone is powered off. If you have the original box the phone came in, that would actually be a terrific first step for keeping the phone and battery safe.
If not, no biggie – but you should invest in some bubble wrap for around the phone, and then you might also want to include packing peanuts in the box.
A quick note: in 2015, USPS changed the shipping regulations for lithium batteries, from a lithium content standard to a watt-hour standard.
The watt-hour rating for shipping a cell phone is limited to 20 Wh per cell, 100 Wh per battery, and you can only ship two batteries at once (or eight cells).
When the phone is all packaged up, you can either print the postage at home and bring it to the Post Office, or just bring it to the Post Office and have them calculate the postage.
Either way, you will need an additional label for your box, the DOT-approved (DOT stands for Department of Transportation) lithium battery mark.
You can obtain that (always, for free) at the Post Office. You might also consider adding verbiage like “Handle with care” or “This way up” on your parcel.
A few other notes: You might consider purchasing Insurance if it’s not included with the shipping (you get $50-worth with Priority Mail and $100 with Priority Mail Express).
Insurance is both affordable and practical, especially since phones are fairly fragile.
All of the applicable shipping options, too, include tracking, so both you and your recipient can follow the parcel’s progress.
Do You Need a Special Label to Ship a Cell Phone Through USPS?
You do require a special label to ship a cell phone (or any other device that is powered by a lithium battery) via the Postal Service.
It’s called the Lithium Battery Handling Label, and you can get it for free from the Post Office.
There is an example of what it looks like (you have likely seen it before if you’ve ordered a phone or other device) on this page at the USPS.com website.
Per the informational site, the label is important because it identifies these major pieces of information:
- There is a lithium metal or lithium-ion cell or battery within
- There is a potentially flammable hazard within
- There must be special handling if the package is damaged
- A phone number to call for further information
Can You Ship Batteries Internationally Through USPS?
You can lithium batteries internationally using the Postal Service.
However, they are only shippable in limited quantities, and of course, you must follow all the safety precautions when you ship them domestically.
You will want to take special care when packaging devices containing lithium batteries, as the longer journey can mean more opportunity for mishaps.
Lithium battery quantities eligible for international shipping are as follows:
- A maximum four cells or two batteries
- Total watt-hour rating per each cell no more than 20 Wh max
- Total watt-hour rating per each battery no more than 100 Wh max
Further, it is not permissible to end lithium-ion batteries not installed in a device internationally.
Can You Mail Alkaline Batteries Through USPS?
You can mail alkaline batteries, in a device or out, without many of the limits imposed on lithium ones.
That’s because USPS does not deem alkaline batteries as potentially hazardous as it does lithium (which are flammable, after all).
However, you cannot ship alkaline batteries internationally, only within the U.S.
To know more, you can also read our posts on the fastest USPS shipping method, shipping clothes USPS, and USPS 3 day shipping.
You can mail a cell phone with a battery through USPS, even if that battery is lithium-ion. However, there are restrictions in terms of watt-hours, that limit how much or how many you ship in one box.
You must also use a special hazardous materials label, which is free from the Post Office, to ensure careful handling during transport and delivery.