While we enjoy the convenience of online cross-border shopping, we are bound by the limitations set by the carrier service provider and specific import rules of your country. Many products may be restricted or prohibited due to regulatory, hazard, safety or other reasons.
IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations prohibit items that may cause danger, damage or delay from international shipping. Note that sample sizes (if applicable) are also subject to the same restrictions! So, there are general guidelines for the prohibited and restricted item regardless of origin or destination. Items include (and are not limited to):
As you may know, there is a risk of certain lithium batteries catching fire. However, not all lithium batteries are affected by these regulations.
Flammable and Pressurized Items
Includes flammable solids, liquids and gases, e.g. activated carbon, paint, aerosol and etc. that will cause fire.
Animals and Agriculture
Animal (live or dead) and agriculture (plants and seeds) are prohibited to avoid foreign virus accidentally spread and hazard to people health.
It may contain ingredients scheduled as controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 that cannot be shipped.
Perishable foods can be affected by temperature and humidity, and spoil easily before reaching the destination.
Precious Metals and Stones
Custom may consider your metals as cash and as you know large number of cash must be declared. There is a grey area to define it!
Gambling and Lottery Items
Gambling devices or lottery ticket may in violation of the laws of the country jurisdiction you shipped.
Pornographic and Obscene Materials
Pornographic material includes printed media and soft media are not allowed as it may go against the obscenity law.
Or ‘pirated’ goods, items that infringe intellectual property rights. (e.g., trademarks, copyrights or patents)
Products or Beverages Containing Alcohol
Any goods containing alcohol such as alcoholic beverages, perfume, cologne unless you get the permit.
Cigarettes and Related Product
Most cigarettes and tobacco-related products may not be shipped domestically or internationally. Includes e-cigarettes, vape, hookah and related accessories.
Drugs are always prohibited by law strictly. Substances of substitute for illicit drugs or devices for the consumption of illicit drugs are also prohibited.
Firearms and Weapons (parts)
Includes the part of firearms and weapon like magazine, bullet. Imitations of same or gun toys are also prohibited.
Explosive, Toxic and Dangerous Products
Any items that are labeled or potentially dangerous. Includes toxic substances, explosive devices, fireworks, and pesticides.
*We only listed the generally prohibited products.
What happens when prohibited items are discovered?
There is no uniform answer to this question, regulations changing every day but sometimes it is up to the customs official that is on-duty. Finally, your parcel may be confiscated or you may be fined or jailed according to severity.
If discovered by courier service, each of them has its own rules and procedures. Your item most likely will be discarded or returned to the sender if you make a request and let the sender rearrange the carrier that can safely carry such items. In some cases, the courier services will report to the authorities if discovers illegal items in the parcel.
How to avoid shipping prohibited items?
If you are not that sure about you can ship the item or not, please go to carrier service providers’ websites for more detailed information about prohibited items, such as UPS, DHL. Most of them have the lists and instructions on their official website.
If you really want to purchase an item on the list above and ship to your country, you better confirm directly with your local customs office see whether it is permissible or prohibitable. By understanding the import regulations in your country, you can avoid trouble and save a lot of time waiting for your parcel that stuck at customs.
Read more cross-border shopping guide
If you have any question about parcel forwarding, tax avoidance, and shipping methods, welcome to read our cross-border shopping guides.
- Detailed Comparison of 3 International Shipping Methods: Direct ship VS Parcel Forwarder VS Concierge Service
- Cross-border shopping can save import duties and consumption taxes!
- Courier vs. Postal, which one to choose when shopping overseas?