You know how they say "you can't take it with you?" Well,
when it comes to international shipping policies, there are some things you
can't send, either.
Universally speaking, whether you are using the good
old U.S. Postal Service or an international carrier such as Federal Express or
UPS, don't bother to waste time, energy or tape on trying to send handguns, live
animals or cigarettes. Those items, however, are just the tip of the iceberg of
the "no" list.
Whether you are packing up your stuff and family and hitting
going overseas for a fresh start, or simply attempting to send a gift to a
friend, it's important to understand that international shipping laws are in
place for a reason. Many items are clearly deemed hazardous for shipping
purposes, while others are not permitted entry into some foreign lands.
It will save you time and money to know what's what before you drop
something off at the Post Office or hand it off to your friendly courier service
If It's Dangerous, It Can't Be Shipped
If the package you are
attempting to mail says any of the following words on the label or packaging,
think before even attempting to send it: explosive, compressed, gas, flammable,
poison, toxic, infectious, radioactive or corrosive.
The more obvious
items that are prohibited are
- Bodily fluids, such as blood
Clearly, if an item is easily identified as
"dangerous" or "hazardous" with or without a label, don't try sending it. For
example, anything labeled "flammable gas" won't be getting too far in the
shipping process. Fireworks, as well, can't be mailed anywhere.
way, you may be thinking that fireworks and ammunition are docile without
something to ignite them. However, consider that the shipping process takes
packages through various temperature changes and potentially turbulent travel
conditions. As far as shipping organizations are concerned, it's better safe
When Shipping Internationally from the U.S.
Every country has
its own rules and regulations regarding internationally shipping policies. Find
out the laws where you are shipping from and well as to, so you have all your
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the following items
may not be mailed from any of the 50 states:
- Lighters because they contain flammable gasses or liquids.
- Cosmetics may contain flammable substances.
- Electrical equipment could contain powerful magnets or mercury in
- Household goods, including paints, bleaches, spray cans under
pressure and many other items, because they can be flammable or combustible.
- Pharmaceuticals may contain flammable liquids, radioactive medicines,
or other hazardous chemicals.
- Photography supplies could contain acids, corrosive materials,
bleaches or poisonous materials.
- Thermometers may contain poisonous mercury.
Others Items You Can't Ship
While certain items are obviously potentially dangerous,
others are less so. Still these items are also on the international shipping
prohibited list. Consider perfume or cologne, as an example. These oft-purchased
gifts are not allowed to be shipped because they are considered flammable.
This is where the process gets a bit tricky. Many of these items are
usually not considered hazardous, especially when they can easily be found in
our bathroom cabinets. Others are quite useful in the home and, when used
appropriately, they are not dangerous. However, the following is a list of
common household and consumer products that may not be mailed. According to the
U.S. Postal Service, "they can become a hazard when shaken or when the
temperature or pressure changes."
Some of these more common, yet
potentially hazardous, materials include.
- Nail polish
- Flea collars or flea sprays
- Pool chemicals
- Dry ice
- Mercury thermometers
- Cleaning supplies
Every Country Sets Its Own Postal Regulations
One look at the
various "restriction" lists for shipping released by countries around the world
and you can tell that getting your package shipped internationally is not as
simple as dropping it at the local Post Office. Each foreign country has its own
set of rules, check first before packing or promising shipments overseas.
In Albania, don't even try to ship clothing that may be considered
"contrary to Albanians' taste." Algeria won't accept shipments of funeral urns
or anything made out of tin. In Denmark, dried or powdered milk is a no-go
while, thankfully it's hot in Paraguay - you can't mail wool blankets to that
To further illustrate the point just made, consider some of these
prohibitions in some of the most widely visited places in the world
a complete list, visit http://pe.usps.com/text/Imm/ps_035.htm
- Australia - silencers for firearms and used bedding.
- Brazil - primary educational books not written in Portuguese.
- Canada - oleomargarine and other butter substitutes, including
altered or renovated butter, the plumage and skins of wild birds, reprints of
Canadian or British works copyrighted in Canada and used or secondhand hives or
- China - meat and meat products and wrist-watches, cameras, television
sets, radio sets, tape records, bicycles, sewing machines, and ventilators.
- Dominican Republic - roulette games and other gambling devices.
- France - measuring instruments marked in units not complying with
- Germany - playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped
and pulverized cacao beans.
- Israel - blank invoices with headings, used beehives and organic
- Italy - albums of any kind (of photographs, postcards, postage
stamps, etc.,) bells and other musical instruments and parts, footwear of any
kind and hair and articles made of hair.
- United Kingdom - goods made in foreign prisons, except those imported
for a non-commercial purpose or of a kind not manufactured in the UK and horror
- Vietnam - invisible ink, codes, ciphers, symbols or other types of
secret correspondence, and shorthand notes, products made from non-Vietnamese
tobacco and unused postage stamps.
The U.S. Postal Service has compiled
a list of these prohibitions: http://pe.usps.com/text/Imm/ps_035.htm
. However, if you have
any questions at all about what you can and cannot send, check ahead of time by
visiting the country's website.
Final Thoughts about International Shipping Policies
country in the world has its own rules and regulations regarding shipping
policies. Never assume anything. Here are some general things to question:
- Duties and Taxes: Some countries will allow a recipient to pay these
charges, others requires the shipper to pay. Duty and taxes are based on the
declared value of the items.
- Documentation: Packages won't make it through customs if they aren't
clearly labeled with "country of manufacture," value and content.
- Account for Time in Customs: If something has to be overseas by a
deadline, ship it early. "Time in transit" does not account for time in
- Get a Phone Number: The contact phone number of the recipient will
help expedite delivery at their end.
- Safety First: Don't send alcohol. And, in most cases, don't send
prescription drugs, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or handguns. Only licensed
manufacturers and dealers can mail handguns. You can mail unloaded rifles and
shotguns, but you must comply with all applicable laws.
Not sure if
what you're sending is hazardous or prohibited? A quick visit to your local post
office or phone call to 800-275-8777 can put all your concerns to rest.
Movers.com is your
source for advice on all things relating to your move.