Perhaps you’re starting an import-export business. Maybe you’re planning on moving abroad and you need to figure out what you need to bring in your suitcase and what you can ship. Or maybe you want to send a gift to a family member overseas. No matter what your purpose is, you need to be sure your package will reach its destination—and that it won’t be seized upon arrival.
There are a few places you need to check before you prepare your package. First, check the regulations of the country you’re shipping from. Next, find the policies of the country you’re shipping to.
Even if you can’t imagine there being a problem, it’s best to check the policies anyway. For example, it’s not permitted to ship jewelry to several countries, including Ethiopia and Chile. Other countries may allow it under certain circumstances. If your sister accidentally left her earrings behind and you need to return them to her overseas, you’ll need to be certain exactly what the regulations are where she lives.
Aside from items whose restrictions vary by country, there are many things you simply can’t ship internationally. These include:
Under no circumstances can you ship your firearm internationally. If you want to ship it domestically within Canada, you’ll need to contact the Canadian Firearms Program to inquire whether it’s possible.
If you’re shipping from the US, you may be able to mail firearms internationally if you are a licensed manufacturer or dealer. You’ll have to research the regulations of the country you’re shipping to.
Paint is flammable and therefore unable to be shipped internationally. Most glues are flammable as well and can’t be shipped abroad. If you’re trying to start an import-export business and your product focus is paint, you’ll need to search for a different solution.
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to find paint in most countries. Whether you’re an artist who needs paint for your next masterpiece or you have your heart set on the perfect wall color for your new kitchen, you’ll probably be able to find what you need in the country you’re moving to.
3. Tobacco Products
Shipping tobacco products, such as cigarettes, internationally from Canada is mostly prohibited. There are a few exceptions, such as shipping between manufacturers or retailers or shipping when no payment is made by the recipient before or upon arrival of the product. To certify whether you’re exempt, read up on the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.
If you’re shipping from the US, sending cigarettes internationally is strictly prohibited. If you’re shipping domestically within the US, you might be permitted to send tobacco products under limited circumstances.
4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Depending on the country you’re shipping to, you may be unable to ship fresh fruits and vegetables from Canada. Some countries, including Mexico and China, do not permit fresh fruits and vegetables to be shipped from abroad. Check individual country guidelines for more specifics. If you are able to ship fruits and veggies, make sure to package them properly so they meet all the relevant requirements.
There is a complete ban on shipping fresh fruits and vegetables internationally from the US to any country.
5. Alcoholic Beverages
Shipping alcoholic beverages internationally from Canada may be possible if you meet the export requirements and the destination country allows it. If you’re trying to import alcoholic beverages from abroad, you’ll need to comb through the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. One important thing to note is the alcohol content must be less than 24% ABV.
If you’re planning to ship alcohol from the US internationally, you’re out of luck. Alcoholic beverages may not be shipped from the US to any country.
6. Nail Polish
This one is easy to forget. If you’re moving to another country, you might accidentally throw some nail polish into the box with your clothes and shoes—or send some to a friend who lives abroad.
Be sure to avoid shipping both nail polish and nail polish remover. They’re flammable and completely prohibited in international shipments.
It’s not possible to ship cannabis internationally. If you’re in Canada, you’re able to ship cannabis domestically, as long as you follow all the regulations (e.g. shipping to other adults of legal age, shipping an amount less than the maximum weight). Look into the Cannabis Act for more information.
At the time of writing, it’s not permitted to ship cannabis domestically within the US.
Perfume is a flammable liquid, so you can’t ship it internationally. If you want to take your favorite perfume or cologne with you when you move, make sure to pack it in your suitcase.
Other flammable liquids you’re unable to ship internationally include cigarette lighter fuel and kerosene. If you’re traveling by plane with cigarette lighters, make sure the fuel has been completely removed.
Looking for the cheapest way to ship from Canada to US? Go here.
9. Live Animals
Since it’s illegal to ship live animals internationally, it’s best to take your beloved pet with you on the plane. There are some surprising exceptions to this law. If you’re shipping from Canada, you may be able to send bees, parasites, and leeches. If you’re in the US, add poultry and reptiles to that list.
You might be able to ship parts of dead animals, such as a pair of antlers or a pelt if you meet certain requirements. Contact the Canadian Wildlife Service (1-819-997-2800) for more information.
Hairspray cannot be shipped internationally because it’s a compressed gas and therefore classified as a dangerous good. Inhalers also fall into this category, so be sure to bring yours with you on the plane. Another one to avoid shipping is bear spray.
Planning to import to the EU? Click here for a complete guide.
Thermometers have mercury in them, so they’re categorized as dangerous goods and unable to be shipped internationally. Any other instruments or switches which contain mercury are also impossible to ship.
12. Essential Oils
This one might be the easiest to overlook. Essential oils are all the rage nowadays. You might even want to start a business exporting essential oils or send some to a friend.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to research the flashpoint of each essential oil to ensure there’s no risk of flammability. You can’t send tea tree, eucalyptus, or other oils with a flashpoint below 200. Stick to rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and other essential oils with a flashpoint of 200 and above.
If the item you desire to ship does not appear on this list, that’s great! Check out this article to be extra sure.
Are you tired of endlessly researching all the regulations for your shipments? Leave all the details to us. At BorderBuddy, we’ve got solutions for any size business, so give us a call today.