Monday, March 28, 2011

10 Items You Didn't Know Were Illegal to Mail via USPS

If you are shipping articles across international borders, you may not realize that each country has a list of prohibited items that you cannot send in the mail to those countries. Guns, ammunition, hazardous substances and illegal narcotics are a pretty common standard for most countries, but many of the items listed below might take you by surprise.

  1. Unused Envelopes. You got that correct. If you are mailing into Sri Lanka, do not send envelopes inside your envelopes. And don’t send blank stationery, or pens, pencils, chalk or erasers. I have a feeling that the government there doesn’t want your correspondence to receive a response.
  2. Chessboards. I’m not sure if the American soldiers in Afghanistan are playing chess or not, but you cannot mail chessboards into Afghanistan. Absolutely prohibited!
  3. Playing cards. This item has made it onto the lists of several countries. And, no, it is not OK to send them one card at a time. A deck of cards, is a deck of cards, no matter how many envelopes it takes to send it in.
  4. Musical greeting cards. Sorry friends, but if you sent a musical birthday card to your relatives in Cuba or Quatar, it probably got confiscated before it reached them. Birthday and holiday greetings must be of a silent nature. No cute little tunes playing while you read your card.
  5. Unused postage stamps. This is actually a very common item. Many countries prohibit the mailing of unused postage stamps within your correspondence. Apparently, they want to make sure each individual buys their postage stamps locally. There is no gifting of postage, at least not via postal delivery.
  6. Soap. This is a no-no in many countries, including the United States. No shipping soap across borders. Each country must use native soaps. Who knows what might happen to the Italians if they started showering with soap made in Ireland? They might all end up with freckles.
  7. Shoes. No putting your shoes in the mail and shipping them over to some poor soul that doesn’t have a pair in another country. No trading shoes across the borders either. There are some strict rules about mail carriers transporting sneakers.
  8. Blank invoices. You can send your billing invoices in the mail to any country, but there are certain countries that won’t let you send a blank invoice form in the mail to its citizens.
  9. Currency. Please don’t send cash. Even if it weren’t illegal, it just isn’t wise to send cash of any type through the mail system. This is true, regardless of where you live or where you’re sending to.
  10. Cigarettes. Did you ask your cousin in France to mail you some cigarettes in the U.S.? That’s not going to fly with the custom’s agent. Mailing of cigarettes is prohibited in many countries around the world, including the U.S.

This is just a small sampling of prohibited items. The Universal Postal Unit provides a complete listing  of items prohibited or restricted in each country’s mail system.

To Do List:
1.) Make sure we do not ship Blingvelopes, Shiny Shippers, or any other envelopes to Sri Lanka! (I don't look good in stripes)

Jason Archambault
FastPack Packaging Inc.

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