A common enquiry we receive at Transglobal Express is whether or not our parcel couriers can be used to transport mobile phones or tablets.
Mobile phones are restricted items. This means that you may be able to send your phone or tablet by international courier service, but you will need to meet certain conditions to ensure that your device is not counted as dangerous or hazardous.
Lithium ion batteries
In recent years, lithium ion batteries—used in most electronic devices such as phones, tablets and laptops—have become a major cause for concern in air cargo. This is because they are highly flammable and present a fire risk to aircraft, particularly under high pressures.
In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization banned lithium ion batteries as cargo on passenger flights, until a new fire-resistant packaging standard could be designed.
Lithium ion batteries are still permitted on cargo planes, but there are restrictions that are enforced by carriers. Smaller size lithium batteries can be sent as air cargo subject to varying degrees of regulation depending on factors including their size, number, and whether they are transported loose or inside of devices.
So can I send my phone?
With most major carriers, you can send your phone by air carrier and don’t have to use hazard labels as long as the batteries are stored inside of your device and don't exceed a certain level of "watt-hours" (Wh), a measure of electrical energy.
The limit is normally 100 Wh per battery, but restrictions may vary depending on the carrier and destination (and you will not be able to send lithium ion batteries at all to some destinations). It’s always best to check with the carrier first, or, if you’re booking with us, get in touch!
All recent lithium ion batteries will have the watt-hour rating printed on them or in the device documentation. To calculate the watt-hour rating for older phones, multiply the battery's voltage (V) by its capacity in ampere-hours (Ah). This information can usually be found on batteries even when there is no watt-hour rating.
If you were planning to send a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, unfortunately you’re out of luck—this particular model of phone is banned from all airlines because it has a nasty habit of exploding.
If you wish to use a courier to return a device you have purchased, we recommend contacting the recipient in advance and making sure that they will agree to pay any customs fees or taxes. Otherwise you may be hit by additional costs.
However, you cannot use air courier services to return faulty devices or those recalled by the manufacturer. This is a safety risk.
Which couriers are best for sending phones?
While restrictions are similar from courier to courier, some may not allow you to send lithium ion batteries, while some will not allow you to send them to certain countries.
If you would like to send a phone by courier with Transglobal Express, contact us and we can advise you on the shipping eligibility of your device.