Forbidden and Not Recommended Items – The Difference5 min read


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Restricted, forbidden and not recommended items. What are the differences between these terms? Whenever you plan to send your items abroad, you should make sure it is actually allowed to transport them. Even though it is not recommended, you can still choose to ship them. However, you need to know that the package will be sent completely under your responsibility and the insurance would not cover any damages caused. For this reason, you will need to pack your items carefully to avoid problems. Check our blog to know how to properly pack fragile items. And here is the difference between forbidden and not recommended items, as well as restricted ones.

1. Prohibited or forbidden items

In order to ship your parcel safely, there are a few things that you can’t pack under any circumstances. Our list is not exhaustive, but it will give you an overview of what can’t be sent via courier service.

  • Alcoholic beverages containing more than 24% alcohol by volume (ABV)
  • Aerosols
  • Firearms/ammunition (including replicas)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Explosives
  • Gasoline
  • Flammable liquids (such as nail polish, acetone, cleaning compounds) or solids (batteries, matches, etc.)
  • Perfumes (containing alcohol)
  • Toxic and infectious substances (such as poison or any environmental, clinical and medical waste)
  • Tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes)
  • Flowers and other plants
  • Human or animal remains (including ashes) and funerary urns
  • Live animals or animal products
  • Food (anything perishable, including in liquid form – i.e. meat, dairy products, meals ready to eat, fresh fruits or vegetables)
  • Lottery tickets and gambling devices/accessories
  • Pornographic materials and items
  • Any unidentifiable material, substance or chemical
  • Drugs or other pharmaceutical products
  • Lithium batteries or any electronic devices with such batteries are not allowed in air transport
  • Currency, gems, precious metals and stones
  • Hazardous substances and objects
  • Illegal objects
  • Medical samples
  • Objects that need an environment with controlled temperature
  • Objects of great sentimental value
  • Other fragile items
  • Items that can damage other parcels during the transport
  • Shipments that would be covered by the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)

Anything that is dangerous and that could potentially harm the content of your package, other parcels travelling alongside yours, or anyone handling the parcel, is considered forbidden. If any of these items are sent, the shipment would be either refused, confiscated or destroyed. Remember that not all commodities can be shipped to all countries. As a sender, you have to comply with regulations or laws applicable in a country you will be sending your package to. Therefore, if you’re not sure if you can send a particular item, you should have a closer look at specific shipping restrictions in the country of delivery.

2. Restricted items

The main difference between prohibitions and restrictions is that prohibited goods are never allowed to enter or exit a particular country, whereas restricted goods may be allowed to be shipped only within certain circumstances or under certain conditions (usually they require special licenses or permits). Some of the forbidden items may also be allowed in limited quantities (such as small amounts of liquids). This is only possible if the risks they might pose are minimized, and if the packaging is adequate.

3. Not recommended items

There is actually a big difference between forbidden and not recommended items. Even though certain items may not be prohibited – shipping them is still not recommended. Certain goods are simply unsuitable for shipment through the courier network since there is a high risk of damage involved. For example, if you wish to send a bottle of wine, you have to make sure it’s packed properly. This is to ensure that the chance of glass breaking during transit is reduced.

Forbidden and Not Recommended Items

Many food products are also unsuitable for standard courier services due to the fact that they need special transport conditions, such as temperature-controlled transit and warehousing. A suspicious smell coming from a package should be enough for the courier staff to check the parcel thoroughly and return it to the shipper.

Similar rules apply to electronic devices (such as laptops, monitors or televisions, if not transported by plane) or any fragile and valuable items. Standard services are not intended for shipping anything breakable and delicate. If you still decide to send your items, you should take full responsibility and protect them as much as you can. Also, any unique documents (passports, birth certificates, important financial data) cannot be covered for loss and are sent entirely at your own risk.

Keep in mind that courier companies have a right to return the parcel to the sender if, after they scan it in the local depot, they discover that its content is not appropriate for shipping. In order to avoid that, think twice before packing your items.

Final Note

According to our Terms and Conditions (Section 10.4), you can still ship “dangerous” and non-recommended items. However, be aware that any issues deriving from this kind of shipment would be the responsibility of the customer. Remember to pack your items correctly to avoid any damages. In case any problems arise when shipping not recommended or “damaged” items, the insurance will not cover them.

Do you still have some questions? Feel free to contact us!

Last modified: April 29, 2019

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