Why does India consider the iPhone a "Dangerous Item" that cannot be shipped to the US?
March 16, 2009 6:12 AM   Subscribe

How do you ship an electronic item (iPhone) with a non-removable battery out of India? It's labelled as a "dangerous item."

It seems like a lot of my questions stem from an inherent frustration of an American living in a Thirld World country. This question is no exception.

India has this policy of not allowing you to ship out products with their battery inside. That is, I can send you a Nokia cell phone from Mumbai to New York, as long as the battery is separate from the phone.

It can be in the same box, just not in the device. If it's in the device, it's labelled as a dangerous item and you need import/export licenses and such to be able to send it.

So, my brother wants my old iPhone from here and I cannot get it to him. I've tried calling Fed Ex, DTDC, the Post Office. Nobody will take it.

Has anybody a clue how I can ship out an item with a non-removable battery from a country that labels the iPhone as a dangerous item?

I don't know what the metafilter readership is like. Hopefully, there's enough people dealing with India for me to get some help.

Also, if I succeed, how much will customs set my brother back when he receives it? What if I send him 2 new iPhone 3Gs valued at $600 each?

Help is appreciated.
posted by smersh to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
This is probably because the amount of content of lithium in the batteries falls under the hazardous materials category and if you're mailing it abroad, it would likely have to be flown abroad. Maybe any lithium battery shipped separately would not have as much content in it.

This might give you a good sense of why it would be restricted anywhere: http://www.ultralifebatteries.com/documents/whitepapers/Ultralife_Batteries_Lithium_Battery_Transportation_Regulations.pdf
posted by anniecat at 6:26 AM on March 16, 2009

BTW, I just want to say I don't know for sure if this is why. I'm just guessing. Good luck getting anything out of India via postal mail. Ha.
posted by anniecat at 6:47 AM on March 16, 2009

While the rule makes a sort of sense, I am surprised that they ever inspect outgoing packages. Usually only import-side nations get involved in examining packages. On the way out, few care to do more than read the paperwork, ahem.

If you really must, though, you can certainly remove the iPhone 3G battery. That'll void a warranty, but presumably you won't be doing any international warranty claims anyway.
posted by rokusan at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2009

The US postal service also restricts the mailing of lithium batteries in devices.

If you want to be risky, dishonest, etc - mail the iphone with another cell phone battery in the same package. And lie.
posted by Xhris at 8:35 AM on March 16, 2009

We ran into this problem once when my phone went to Iowa in someone's car. They worry about it because even if you put the phone in airplane mode, the phone could still technically start working (so they say) and either interfere with the communications or be used as a remote bomb device or something.

Certain companies would not send it. FedEx didn't care.
posted by Madamina at 8:41 AM on March 16, 2009

Response by poster: Xhris, I'm inclined to mark yours as best answer. I like the way you think.

I'm glad to know this isn't just India, as Madamina also pointed out.

I still have to figure out what to do.

Any ideas about customs charges when it arrives in the US? How about for 2 $600 phones?
posted by smersh at 12:35 PM on March 16, 2009

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