what can't you ship internationally

What can’t you ship internationally?

Aug 30, 2021

A common question when shipping products is “what can’t I ship internationally?” Each carrier and country may have its restrictions – and that gets confusing! However, global shipping restrictions have a lot in common. Many carriers and governments have extensive lists of these prohibited and restricted items. We’ve grabbed some of the most common items in a quick, downloadable guide. We’re also going to talk a little more about what prohibited and restricted items are, and what you need to do if you want to ship them.

Please note: Different countries have different restrictions for items they allow into and out of their country. This list is based on the most common items prohibited and restricted for international shipping. The shipper will always be responsible for their items. This includes making sure they are not on the prohibited or restricted list. All shipments are subject to inspection and possible delay by customs or government authorities. 

What does prohibited mean? 

Prohibited items cannot be shipped for any reason. In many cases, the item is also illegal. 

What are some prohibited items? 

Some common prohibited items are ammunition, cigarettes, dry ice, and fireworks. For a more extensive list of prohibited items, download our guide.

What happens if I ship a prohibited item? 

If you do ship a prohibited item, what happens to it may depend on a few things. First, depending on the end location of your item, the carrier may choose to destroy it. Secondly, a carrier may also choose to hold the item at any national or international hub to be picked up. Each carrier will have its way to handle prohibited items. The responsibility and outcomes of sending prohibited items overseas will fall solely on you. 

What does restricted mean? 

Restricted means an item can be shipped. However, items can go only under certain conditions. Special licenses or permits could be required to ship any item on the restricted item list. In any case, all restricted items have to follow the rules of both beginning and end countries.

What are some restricted items? 

Some restricted items are alcoholic beverages, gold or other precious metals, plants, and live animals. For a longer list of restricted items, download our guide. 

However, to ship them you have to follow the rules involved in sending them. For example, a wine company in California, United States could obtain the correct licenses and find out the right process for shipping their wine to Ontario, Canada. 

What does dangerous goods mean? 

dangerous goods label

Dangerous goods are substances that are a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment when shipping. Certain dangerous goods pose a risk even when not shipping. These goods are hazardous materials. Hazardous materials are put into groups based on certain properties. All dangerous goods will have globally accepted labels on packaging.

Some examples of dangerous goods are lithium batteries, compressed oxygen or other gases, explosives, flammable liquids, or contagious substances. 

What if I want to ship dangerous goods? 

Many carriers have certain plans of action for sending dangerous goods. As a result, sending dangerous goods requires extra paperwork and guarantees, special permit packaging, labels, and special permits from the US Department of Transportation. It is often a good idea to work with an expert in international shipping who also has knowledge and experience with dangerous goods and the requirements you must meet to ship them.

Who’s responsibility is it to comply? 

It is the responsibility of the shipper to make sure items are not on the prohibited or restricted list. All shipments could be inspected at any point in their journey. This could lead to delays by customs or other government authorities. 

Are there ever any extra restrictions?

Yes! Each carrier can create its restrictions based on weather, political events, pandemics, or other events. Extra restrictions could be items they will not carry or even services they will not offer. In these cases, carriers will have an outline of current restrictions on their homepages or a link for more information. 

One example of these situation restrictions is from USPS. They have temporarily suspended service to places like Cuba, Laos, and Yemen because of the unavailability of delivery due to COVID19. 

Where can I get more information? 

You can get more information about prohibited and restricted goods by checking out US Customs and DHL’s list of prohibited and restricted items.

What can’t I ship internationally?

Download our guide to prohibited and restricted items for more information. 


Today is the best day to start shipping all over the world. eGlobalusa makes international eCommerce shipping as easy as Click, Print, Send Anywhere.

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