Different packing and shipping rules apply to different types of parcels. If someone is mailing a cell phone, he has to comply with certain rules to avoid causing damage or injury during transit. The sender must take appropriate precautions to protect the screen and casing of the cell phone. Most importantly, he must ensure the phone's lithium-ion battery – a hazardous material – does not cause harm.
Cell Phone Packaging Basics
To prepare a cell phone for mailing, it must first be switched off. The back case and battery should then be removed and wrapped separately in bubble wrap. The bubble wrap should be secured around all wrapped items with packing tape to make sure it doesn't come loose during transit.
The cell phone itself, as well as any accessories (such as a charger or USB cable) should also be wrapped in bubble wrap. It's crucial that battery terminals and batteries are wrapped separately to prevent short circuits. Batteries should never be packaged loosely with metal items, like tools.
The outer packaging, such as a cardboard box, must be rigid and strong enough to withstand normal handling during transit. In other words, it must resist crushing of the package and prevent exposure of its contents.
Wrapping and Cushioning the Cell Phone
Packing chips should be used to fill the outer packaging to the halfway point. This provides adequate cushioning to help avoid movement and damage. When it comes to putting the cell phone parts into the box, the phone itself should be packed first, then the back cover. Finally, the wrapped battery should go toward the top, before the box is closed and sealed firmly with packing tape.
Marking the Box
A package containing a cell phone must have a complete delivery and return address. It should also be marked "Handle with care" on the top and "This side up" on the side, with an arrow pointing upward.
Most modern cell phones are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are are lightweight and easy to recharge. However, they are also highly flammable and may overheat in high temperatures, so they are considered dangerous goods.
This means lithium-ion batteries are fully regulated as hazardous materials (aka dangerous goods) for transportation, and therefore require the use of specific hazard labeling. According to the United States Postal Service, packages containing lithium-ion batteries must display a DOT-approved lithium battery mark on the address side. It's advisable to check with the carrier if any additional labels or paperwork are required when shipping lithium batteries.
Additional Mailing Restrictions
Anyone mailing a cell phone should also comply with restrictions relating to the watt-hour rating of the battery. The package cannot weigh more than 2.5 kilograms if the lithium-ion battery has a watt-hour rating of not more than 2.7 Wh. In this case, there is no maximum number of cells or batteries per package.
If the lithium-ion battery has a watt-hour rating of not more than 100 Wh, each package must contain no more than two batteries.
Insurance for Mailing Cell Phone
It's sensible to mail a cell phone with signature confirmation and sufficient insurance to cover the cost of the phone. Without insurance, the value of the phone cannot be recovered if something happens to it during transit. The United States Postal Service offers up to $5,000 of basic insurance coverage on lost or damaged items.
Mailing a cell phone with an express mail or freight company, like FedEx or UPS, often includes confirmation and insurance (up to the declared value listed on the shipment) as standard.
- UPS: Declared Value for Shipping Insurance
- UPS: How to Safely Pack and Ship Batteries
- PC World: Mobile Batteries: Everything You Need To Know
- USPS.com: 349 Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials (Hazard Class 9)
- U.S. Department of Transportation: How to Safely Send Batteries and Battery Powered Devices by Mail
- TNT: What Are Lithium Batteries?
- black cell phone image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com