What Products are Banned and Restricted in International Shipping?

What products are Banned and Restricted in International Shipping?

For any home-grown business, international shipping is a big step! It means that your product has a market somewhere on the other side of the globe too, and customers are willing to wait for your goods to reach them instead of popping over to the nearest mall or store.

If that is you, congratulations you are in order! Now comes the next big step: learning international shipping. That’s where we can help you.

In this article, we will help you understand what international shipping is, and learn what banned and restricted products are in international shipping, so there are no hassles when you ship off your first order to the other side of the globe.  

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International shipping is the import and export of products between nations using the sea, air, or land. Moving freight across borders has numerous rules and regulations.

Each country also has a different set of laws, some countries are lenient about some commodities while others are stricter, and they either completely forbid the import or export of certain goods, or have levied tariffs on the goods.

So what exactly happens in customs clearance? Packages are scanned when they leave the home country, and once when they reach the destination country.

The customs forms must be filled out so personnel know exactly what’s in your package, and invoices also need to be in order.

If the package contents are dangerous or banned by the destination country, they are held back. Sometimes problematic packages are opened and checked, and we don’t want any hiccups, as our products reach the customer, do we?

Now that we know the basics about international shipping, let’s look at what banned and restricted products are, so you know what to look out for when shipping! 

What are Banned Products?

Banned or prohibited products are goods that will not be shipped under any circumstances. Some items are considered offensive, hazardous, or too dangerous to be shipped.

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Read on for a detailed list of banned products, do note that different countries have different laws, so these may differ from country to country. 

List of banned products

·     Any live or dead animals- animals live or dead are not allowed to be shipped.
·     Hunting animal trophies- parts of animals are also not allowed to be shipped, like a shark fin, ivory, animal remains, or animal products not intended for consumption like wild animal leather, fur or hide apparel, bags, etc
·     Perishable food products including but not limited to meat, milk, etc without certification
·     Human remains of any form including but not limited to fetal remains, body parts, embryos or ashes are prohibited
·     Gold, silver, titanium, or any other precious metals and even precious and semi-precious gems are prohibited
·     Cash- traveller’s checks, bank bills/ notes/ legal tender 
·     Firearms, ammunition, law enforcement/ defence equipment, weapons including shields, handcuffs, armour, helmets, gun parts/ accessories, maces, stun guns, explosives/ explosive devices including but not limited to common fireworks are prohibited.  
·     Drugs and narcotics- marijuana, and any other psychotropic materials either prescription or non-prescription
·     Hazardous waste, flammable liquids/ solids, oxidizing materials, toxic substances including pesticides, rat poisons and radioactive materials, corrosive cleaning fluids
·     Vapes to or from the US
·     Electronics like non-IMEI phones, goods that have batteries, and other electronics that need licenses to export such as radar, sonars, telecom equipment
·     Postage stamps
·     Gambling items like lottery tickets and slot machines
·     Goods that have compressed air like shock absorbers, airbags
·     Antiques like statues, sculptures and other such artwork
·     Lighters containing fuel
·     Plant seeds, soil samples
·     Imitation jewellery without an appraiser certificate or any counterfeit goods/ fake items
·     Unidentified or insufficiently marketed fluids, powders etc
·     Dry ice, magnetized material, especially in the United States
·     Any items mentioned by the Export Control of India, and import restrictions of the destination countries.

Now that we know what banned products are, let us look at restricted products.

What are Restricted Products?

Restricted items are goods that are allowed to be shipped, but only under certain conditions as prescribed by the receiving country. The shipper is responsible for complying with the regulations.

Here is a detailed list of restricted (but not prohibited products). Since there are specific guidelines for each, remember to check the official country page for their laws!

List of restricted products

·      Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and spirits.
·      Flammable liquids, gas, spontaneously combustible solids, dangerous when wet flammable solids, peroxides, oxidisers, organic peroxides, toxic substances, corrosives, dry ice
·      Batteries/ cells, lithium batteries either alone or in devices, wet spillable. Non-spillable lead-acid/ alkaline
·      Non-flamable or non toxic gas
·      Artwork, archaeological artefacts, antiquities
·      Animal products, including non-domesticated animal goods and apparel, especially furs
·       Ammunition
·       Biological substances, and licensed human/ animal specimens, other biological agents, hosts/ vectors of human disease
·       Dangerous goods. Hazardous materials
·       Firearms, weapons and inert/ replicas of explosives
·       Live animals
·       Perishables, fresh foodstuffs
·       Gems and other precious materials in the form of residue, sulfides, scrap, powder, jewellery
·       Radioactive materials, medical devices
·       Pharmaceuticals
·       Narcotics like hemp and CBD
·       Plant/ plant seeds that require special permits and quarantine, flowers
·       Tobacco
·       Tranquilising guns and ammunition
·       Aerosols: deodorants, perfumes and hairspray
·       Fire extinguishers


Cross-border shipping is complex, as each country has its collection of rules and regulations. Some commodities are banned, and some are restricted, but as long as one adheres to the laws, you should have no issue! 

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