Common Shipping Restrictions You Should Be Aware Of

Common Shipping Restrictions You Should Be Aware Of If something exists, you can ship it, right? Wrong! There are a lot of shipping restrictions and prohibitions you need to be aware of, especially when you’re shipping internationally and your package goes through the customs. Some of them are imposed by couriers to abide to local, national and international laws and regulations (including IATA regulations), others are imposed by destination countries. Let’s take a closer look at the most common shipping restrictions to understand how you can handle some of them.

Prohibited Items

Some items are prohibited for shipping by most carriers and most countries, and there is nothing you can do about it. Typical prohibited items include, for example, aerosols, ammunition, explosives (including fireworks), human body parts, ivory, most live animals, money, etc. However, lists of prohibited items may vary from carrier to carrier. For example, the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not ship alcoholic beverage, whereas some private carriers do so under certain criteria; on the other hand, the USPS is the only company that ships cremated remains internationally.

Heavily Restricted Items

Some items are so heavily restricted that they might as well be prohibited, at least for mailers who don’t run a business and can’t obtain all the required licenses. For example, as we’ve already mentioned above, some private carriers allow to ship alcohol. However, this doesn’t mean that you can just mail a bottle of beer or wine to a friend. Shipping alcohol typically requires the sender to have a special license. Other heavily restricted items include live animals, dangerous goods, tobacco, highly valuable items, etc.

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries can spontaneously combust when not packaged and handled properly, especially during transportation by air. Most carriers allow to ship Li-ion cells and batteries, but only if they are undamaged, packaged according to strict guidelines, and labeled appropriately. Batteries that exceed a certain weight/rating threshold must be approved by relevant authorities before shipment.

Fragile Items

Most couriers allow to ship fragile items, but it is important to make sure that you use a durable box and plenty of padding materials to keep the contents of your package safe. It is also imperative to label the package properly to ensure it is handled with care.

Perishable Items

The term “perishable items” refers to items that can deteriorate while in transit, such as plants and food. Some perishable items are restricted, others are not. Those that are not are mailed at the sender’s own risk. To keep your package with perishable items safe, check out the estimated delivery time to make sure it arrives before the contents of the package begin to deteriorate, use proper packaging, and don’t forget to properly label your package.

Country-Specific Rules and Restrictions

Some countries have specific import rules and restrictions that you need to be aware of when shipping internationally. You might encounter prohibitions and restrictions on the import of some products that are not on international lists of restricted/prohibited items, which are imposed to protect the domestic interests of a particular country; country-specific duties and taxes (some countries have an extremely high import duty); a strict, lengthy and sometimes not particularly transparent clearance process; the need for a lot of documentation, etc.

So, to cut a long story short, here is our advice: do your research before shipping anything even slightly unusual. Once you determine which postal or courier service you’re planning to use, check out their website for shipping regulations and lists of prohibited and restricted items, don’t forget to look up the import regulations of the destination country when shipping internationally, and make sure that the items you’re shipping are packaged and labeled appropriately.