illegal_mail

Attention: All Law-Abiding Mailers

by laura.santos, January 19, 2012

If you plan to ship items across international borders using the United States Postal Service, you must take into account that each country has its own particular list of prohibited items that cannot be sent to their country via mail.

It’s fairly common knowledge that guns, ammunition, illegal drugs, and hazardous substances are among the common NO’s when it comes to mailing to most countries, but we’ve compiled a list noting some items that may just take you by surprise.

  • What’s the flap about?

It’s pretty interesting (especially to us) that unused envelopes can’t be sent to Sri Lanka inside your other envelopes. More no-no’s include pens, pencils, blank stationery, chalk, and erasers.

  • The not so sweet smell of mailing restrictions.

The USPS cites perfume as being a hazardous substance. Within the United States, perfume is subject to various restrictions but can be shipped; however, shipping perfume internationally via the USPS is illegal.

  • Good old-fashioned fun? Apparently, not everywhere.

Playing cards are on the do not mail lists of several countries.   It’s not even OK to mail them one card at a time either! However, Germany is a bit more lenient for card players, with a rule of its own: Cards maybe shipped “in complete decks properly wrapped.” Das ist gut! Speaking of other gaming past-times… don’t attempt to mail a chessboard to Afghanistan. It’s totally prohibited. Checkmate!

  • Silent greetings.

Cuba and Qatar ban musical greeting cards from being sent to their respective countries and will likely confiscate them before they reach the intended recipient. Well-wishers, better make plans to say it with silence.

  • Stumped by stamps.

Believe it or not, this is pretty common. A lot of countries prohibit the mailing of unused postage stamps within your correspondence. Apparently, this is to make sure folks buy their stamps locally.

  • Clean up your act.

This one might get you in a lather… Sending soap is against the rules in many countries. Soap also may not be shipped across borders; hence, each country must use soaps native to it. That stinks!

  • Save your soles.

You can’t put shoes in the mail and simply ship them to another country. Trading shoes across the border is also not permitted. Additionally, strict rules apply regarding mail carriers delivering sneakers. Tread lightly and check the rules!

  • Drawing a blank.

While you are permitted to mail your invoices via mail to any country, certain countries do not allow you to send a blank billing invoice form in the mail to its citizens.

  • Kick the habit.

The mailing of cigarettes is prohibited in many countries around the globe, including the United States.

  • Cash is not king.

Many countries prohibit the mailing of currency and while many people think it’s illegal to do so here in the US, it actually isn’t, unless it is for purposes that are illegal (such as operating lotteries through the mail, evading taxes, and laundering money). However, while not against US law, mailing cold hard cash is not necessarily the best thing to do.

We explored this topic further to see what particular items individual countries banned.
Looking around the USPS web site, we found these standouts
:

  • Stockings of all kinds except wool stockings; salt; and margarine and other kinds of artificial butter and materials for its manufacture are on a long list of what items cannot be mailed to Syria.
  • For Paraguay, that nation’s lengthy prohibited list notes stocking and socks except those made of jersey; suitcases; leather bags, and wool blankets.
  • Artificial flowers and interior ornaments; ceramic products and imitation jewelry, clothing, accessories, and underwear make the long list of what Peru prohibits.
  • Advertisements for charms, amulets, and talismans are among the items nixed by Singapore.
  • Watches and clocks can be ticked off your list if you had planned to send any to Algeria.
  • Among the items Guyana thumbs down are newsprint paper and all kinds of linen.
  • Making St. Lucia’s relatively short list are shaving brushes made in Japan.

That’s just a small sampling of what some countries prohibit. Visit the USPS’s Can You Ship it Internationally? page for more information or  click here for country-specific prohibitions and restrictions.

As far as what you can or can’t mail within the USA, check out the USPS’s Can You Mail It? page to learn about safety restrictions and mailing guidelines.  The box below features some fairly common items that the postal service deems hazardous and cannot be sent via US mail. Several may surprise you as well…

So, how do many of the common items listed get shipped? Carriers such as UPS and Fed Ex are able to transport a variety of items, including perfume, nail polish, flea collars, and more (via ground service when air transport of certain chemical/liquid substances are an issue.)

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