A Light-Hearted Look at What You Can’t Ship and Where

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If any portion of your business deals with shipping, then you know that there are certain restrictions placed upon what can and can’t be sent through the mail — especially when it comes to shipping internationally. For instance, did you know it’s illegal to mail saccharin to Belize or France and a whole host of other countries? Did you know that the Bahamas prohibits anyone from shipping in tins of skimmed milk? How about the fact that Turkey won’t let you mail in cosmetics or tea?

When you need global postage solutions, it’s easy to overlook the more light-hearted moments provided at the intersection of life, work and shipping. To assist you toward that end, here are some of the more interesting items — and their accompanying countries — that have made the international shipping banned list.

Light-Hearted Look


Denmark is a European country that rarely raises eyebrows. A constitutional monarchy that claims the Vikings as inhabitants from the 8th through the 10th centuries, Denmark these days is a bit milder, although its inhabitants regularly rank first in international studies on happiness. While it may have nothing to do with being happy or sad, the Danes do have some interesting items that are banned from being mailed into the country:

  • Almanacs
  • Knuckledusters, or “brass knuckles”
  • Playing cards


The island of Ireland is the third largest in all of Europe, and it is divided politically between the Republic of Ireland, which covers about 80 percent of the island and Northern Ireland, which lies to the northeast and is still part of the United Kingdom. The Irish have had a difficult and storied history, and Irish culture has exercised great influence the world over — especially in English-speaking countries. When it comes to some of the items they prefer you keep out of the mail, they’re as much in a class by themselves as they are regarding their belief in Leprechauns:

  • Prison-made goods
  • Hay
  • Carbon paper
  • Peat moss


Established as a state in 1948 following World War II, the nation of Israel was born out of struggle and that struggle continues. Regardless of your political leanings, though, some of the items Israel refuses to allow through the mail are a bit comical-seeming:

  • Games of chance
  • Used beehives


Nepal is a nation in southern Asia known for being the birthplace of the Buddha and for containing the Himalayas. In fact, northern Nepal has eight of the world’s tallest ten mountains. Lumbini, the alleged place of Buddha’s birth, is considered by Buddhists to be one of the holiest places on earth, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nepal relies heavily on agriculture for its economy, which may help explain some of the items on its banned-from-being-shipped list:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Cameras
  • Watches


Located in the eastern part of the continent of Africa, Uganda gained independence from British rule in 1962. While its official language is English, Ugandans speak a wide variety of languages, including Swahili and Luganda. The vast majority of the country identifies as Christian, while Islam and more traditional religions still hold some sway. Given the country’s religious leanings, some of the items on their banned list make sense — but not all:

  • Lottery tickets
  • Alcohol
  • Japanese shaving brushes


Located on the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is a small and fertile country nestled between Myanmar and India. Between 1947 and 1971, the region was part of Pakistan, but the Bangladesh Liberation War established the country as its own and separate state. A fascinating place, the national animal is the Royal Bengal Tiger, and the national fruit is the mango. While it’s list of items that cannot be shipped across its borders is more substantial, two in particular stand out:

  • American cotton
  • Pink quinine

If you’re in the business of shipping goods around the globe, then you know the value of knowing the rules of what can be shipped where. While it’s far from exhaustive, this list provides a small look into just how complicated — and comical — shipping internationally can be.

About the Author: Zoe Benning is a contributing writer. She works for a shipping company in the Midwest.