However, good news! Starting January 1, 2013, Japan Post will allow you to send electronics with lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries, as long as they meet certain requirements.
- Batteries must be in or attached to an electronic device (e.g. in a camera, or connected to a laptop, etc.) -- batteries cannot be packaged separately/by themselves, even if they're a spare.
- Cell-type batteries (cylinders) must be less than 20 watts a piece.
- Other batteries (usually rectangular), must be less than 100 watts and must have the wattage labeled on the outside of the battery/device. For reference, a Macbook Pro's battery is 60 watts.
- You can't send damaged batteries or anything that might catch fire.
- Batteries can't weigh more than 5 kilograms.
- You can't send more than four cell-type batteries in one package. For example, if one camera has one battery inside it, you can send up to four of those cameras. If a camera has two of those batteries in it, you can only send two cameras.
- You can't send more than two other batteries (again, usually rectangular) per package. So if you want to send a video camera and a laptop that both use these types of batteries, you can send those two items together. If you have a laptop, video camera and a DSLR with this type of battery, you can only send two of those items in a package.
Please see the Japan Post website for the official press release and detailed information (unfortunately all in Japanese) about this. The detailed document has a list of countries that lithium ion and polymer batteries can be sent to, via air (first column) or sea (second column).
I think this is a great development, especially considering how expensive it is to ship electronics with lithium batteries via FedEx and DHL. I only wish they would have implemented this earlier this year!
Many thanks to Tim for the heads up.