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You Can't Send Shoes to Italy or Soap to Paraguay
Interesting Postal Restrictions Around the World
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by Matt T. Rosenberg
November 23, 2000

I've been getting ready to send gifts to family and friends overseas so I've been referring to the International Rate Calculator section of the United States Postal Service site. The International Rate Calculator provides postal information for each of the countries of the world.

Included for each country are "Prohibitions" for items that are not permissible to mail to that country. While most countries prohibit mailing money, food, weapons, biological substances, and radioactive materials, there is an eccentric collection of additional prohibited items in some countries.

For your enjoyment, I've compiled a list of some of the most interesting and unusual items prohibited in a few dozen countries around the world.

 

Afghanistan

Articles liable to compete with national industry.
Articles of silk.
Chessboards.
Children toys except sports goods.
Literature, publications, other articles prejudicial to public order or offensive to religion or morality.
Tapestries and lace.
Albania

Extravagant clothes and other articles contrary to Albanians' taste.
Items sent by political emigres.
Literature, publications, and other articles prejudicial to the State public order.
Used articles.
Algeria

Funeral urns.
Household articles made of tin.
Saccharine in tablets or packets.
Used clothing, accessories, blankets, linen, textile furnishings, footwear and headwear.
Watches and clocks.
Australia

Goods produced wholly or partly in prisons or by convict labor.
Seditious literature.
Silencers for firearms.
Used bedding.
Brazil

Primary educational books not written in Portuguese.
Cambodia

Coins; banknotes; currency notes (paper money); securities payable to bearer; traveler's checks; manufactured and unmanufactured platinum, gold, silver; precious stones; jewels; expensive jewelry; and other valuable articles.
Canada

Butane gas lighters and refill cartridges.
Commercial tags of metal.
Oleomargarine and other butter substitutes, including altered or renovated butter.
Parcels bearing caution labels indicating the contents are flammable.
Plumage and skins of wild birds.
Prison-made goods being sold or intended for sale by a person or firm.
Reprints of Canadian or British works copyrighted in Canada.
Reproductions of Canadian postage stamps unless printed in publications in black and white only and with a defacing line drawn across each reproduction.
Smoke-making devices for motor vehicles and boats.
Used or secondhand hives or bee supplies.
China

Manuscripts, printed matter, photographic negatives, gramophone records, films, magnetic tapes, video tapes, etc., which could do political, economical, cultural, or moral harm to the People's Republic of China.
Meat and meat products.
Radio receivers, transmitters or receivers of all kinds, walkie-talkies and parts thereof; valves, antennae, etc.
Used clothing and bedding.
Wrist-watches, cameras, television sets, radio sets, tape records, bicycles, sewing machines, and ventilators.
Cuba

Musical letters or cards that play a sound recording when opened.
Cyprus

Daggers.
Explosives and flammable substances.
Leeches and silkworms.
Postcards of private manufacture having illustrated designs not previously approved by the Cyprus Post Office.
Seditious publications.
Denmark

Almanacs (except for single copies) that do not bear the University almanac stamp.
Dried or powdered milk, and food mixtures containing it.
Dominican Republic

Books in parcels addressed to bookshops care of banking institutions.
Poniards, daggers, stilettos, sticks, or fans with concealed blades or firearms.
Roulette games and other gambling devices.
France

Measuring instruments marked in units not complying with French law.
Germany

Absinthe.
Playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped.
Pulverized coca beans.
Melatonin.
Iceland

Toys made of lead.
Indonesia

Books and periodicals printed in any Indonesian language and published outside of Indonesia, except educational books approved by the Indonesian Department of Commerce.
Cloth and batik designs and sarongs.
Cocoa leaves, dried, undried, or powdered.
Indonesian national currency (rupiahs).
Used articles including clothing.
Ireland

Hay, straw, including articles made of straw.
Prison-made goods.
Israel

Agricultural tools and accessories.
Blank invoices with headings.
Cigarettes exceeding 600.
Games of chance.
Lottery tickets and advertisements.
Organic fertilizers.
Soil and sand.
Spices exceeding 1 kg.
Tropical and sub-tropical fresh fruit.
Used beehives.
Italy

Albums of any kind (of photographs, postcards, postage stamps, etc.).
Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them.
Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof.
Clocks and supplies for clocks.
Ether and chloroform.
Footwear of any kind.
Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls, needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps, and hats of any kind.
Hair and articles made of hair.
Leather goods.
Live bees, leeches, and silkworms. Parasites and predators of harmful insects.
Nutmeg, vanilla; sea salt, rock salt; saffron.
Perfumery goods of all kinds (except soap).
Playing cards of any kind.
Postage stamps in sealed or unsealed letters.
Ribbons for typewriters.
Saccharine and all products containing saccharine.
Salted, smoked or otherwise prepared meats; fats; and lard.
Tobacco.
Toys not made wholly of wood.
Jordan

Advertisements concerning treatment of venereal diseases or medicinal preparations intended to serve as preventives against those diseases.
Kuwait

Magazines or other printed matter containing illustrations of nude or partly nude human figures.
Nicaragua

Communist material or literature.
Foreign lottery tickets.
Lighters.
Police whistles.
Telegraph equipment.
Paraguay

Batteries.
Plastic toys.
Soaps.
Stocking and socks except those made of jersey.
Suitcases; leather bags.
Wool blankets.
Peru

Artificial flowers and interior ornaments.
Ceramic products and imitation jewelry.
Cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco.
Clothing, accessories, and underwear.
Communist propaganda.
Contraceptive products, remedies, or apparatus.
Electrical household appliances.
Footwear, shoes, boots, and accessories.
Furs and clothing made of fur.
Gloves and hosiery.
Household articles of iron, steel, copper, and aluminum.
Household linens.
Lighters.
Perfume products or soaps.
Perishable infectious biological substances.
Playing cards.
Radioactive materials.
Samples of cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco.
Sound recorders and reproducing devices.
Textiles and carpets.
Toys and dolls of all kinds.
Travel articles, suitcases, attache cases, kits, or similar articles.
Waxes and creams for shoes.
Wooden utensils.
Qatar

Alcoholic beverages of all kinds.
Ammunition.
Obscene or immoral articles.
Sri Lanka

Paper and writing products (envelopes, ink, pencils, pens, erasers, chalk, etc.).
Radios; tape recording machines and parts thereof.
Sweden, Switzerland, and Portugal

Lottery tickets and advertisements concerning lotteries.
United Kingdom

Citizens Band Radios, walkie-talkies, microbugs, and radio microphones that are capable of transmitting on any frequency between 26.1 and 29.7 megacycles per second and 88 to 108 Mhz per second.
Goods made in foreign prisons, except those imported for a non-commercial purpose or of a kind not manufactured in the UK.
Horror comics and matrices.
Vietnam

Invisible ink, codes, cyphers, symbols or other types of secret correspondence, and shorthand notes.
Products made from non-Vietnamese tobacco.
Radio transmitters and receivers and radio set accessories of any kind.
Unused postage stamps.
Used clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and shoes.

 

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