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Shipping Restrictions: An Exhaustive List Of Items No One Should Ever Ship

November 19, 2018 Courier


Delivery truck with cardboard box, concept trade restrictions

Starting a business means being in “the know.” As a business owner, you must know all about policies, laws, regulations, and standards of operation. It takes time, effort, and a great deal of research to start a business because of this.

If your company ships product, then you will also need to know about shipping restrictions. Shipping items can be an easy endeavor, but you have to know what is and isn’t okay to ship before sealing the box.

National and private couriers both follow federal regulations when shipping packages. They flag packages that seem suspicious and/or not within shipping parameters.

Postal workers measure proper weight, postage, and proper packaging, but this isn’t their only job. They also smell, feel, and inspect packages before they make it to the next round of shipping.

It’s common to hear when sending off a package, “Are there are liquids, flammables, or hazardous materials?” But, do you know what those categories mean? Do you know what items you aren’t allowed to ship?

Read on to learn what items your company should never ship. Ever.

Exhaustive List of Shipping Restrictions

No one wants their businesses to get fined or to end up getting in trouble because of shipping restriction violations. Here’s an exhaustive list of shipping restrictions that help you to avoid any confusion, fines, or trouble with the law.

1. Obnoxious Odors

Any material or items being shipping must not have a foul or strong odor. Strong odors indicate that the items are not suitable for mailing. Odors signify that the package may contain hazardous, flammable, or generally toxic materials.

If you think that an item you ship may have an odor, but it’s not toxic or hazardous, ask the mailing office if you are able to ship it.

Also, be aware that boxes with leaking items will also not ship, and will most likely get discarded by the shipping service. If you ship non-toxic liquids make sure to properly package the item so it does not leak or break.

2. Hazardous Liquids and Powders

Safety for postal workers is a concern for national and private couriers. Shipping restrictions help to keep postal workers safe as well as the general public.

For this reason, you aren’t allowed to ship hazardous items. The U.S. Department of Transportation identifies items considered hazardous and pose a significant health risk.

3. Alcohol Without a License

To ship alcohol, such as whiskey, you must have a license to do so. In addition to needing a license in most states, many shipping companies require that an adult over 21 signs for the package.

The package containing the alcohol also must be sufficient. The shipping materials need to be able to contain liquid if it breaks. Make sure to package it well enough to not break in the first place.

Also, if you don’t have a license to ship large quantities of alcohol then expect stick to only a couple of bottles per package.

It’s also worth knowing, whether a postal company has a license to ship alcohol in the first place. Some courier companies opt of getting licenses and instead prohibit the item.

4. Firearms and Ammunition

Unless you have a license to ship a firearm, then it is strictly prohibited to ship one. Ammunition is also prohibited without a license.

5. Live Animals

You aren’t allowed to ship most live animals. Some companies do allow people to ship certain live animals such as lizards, geckos, fish, and bees. However, regulations usually prohibit the shipping of any other type of animal species such as mammals.

Ask your courier company in advance what live animals you are and aren’t allowed to ship. Also, make sure to follow their policies for shipping these live animals thoroughly.

6. Currency

Most companies prohibit shipping of bank bills, notes, and currency. This includes coin and paper money as well. Endorsed stocks, bonds, and cash letters also fall under this restriction category.

7. Remains

You cannot ship human or animal remains of any kind. Some companies do allow you to ship cremains as long as you follow special regulations. If shipping cremated remains to another country, the other country must also allow it.

Shipping corpses, organs, or disinterred remains is strictly prohibited.

8. Marijuana and Controlled Substances

You cannot ship marijuana or controlled substances, even for medicinal purposes. Shipping controlled substances require proper licensing from the Drug Enforcement Agency and other organizations.

If your company is not a pharmaceutical company, then it’s safe to say that you are not allowed to ship these items.

9. Expensive Items

For example, watches costing more than $500 and expensive art pieces. Irreplaceable antiques also fall under this category.

Speak with the courier company to see what their policies are for shipping expensive items. Some companies offer insurance and signature confirmation at an extra charge. The concern for most companies when shipping these items is the potential liability and value loss that could result.

Ship these items at your own risk and speak with your courier in advance.

10. Fireworks

Fireworks are strictly prohibited because of their flammability. For companies interested in selling fireworks, know that ground shipping is your sole method of shipment. You must also have a license to ship fireworks and follow all shipping procedures.

11. Uninstalled Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries are susceptible to combustion if improperly packaged. As such, you cannot ship lithium batteries not already installed in a device and with higher watt-hours available.

Consult with the shipping service to learn what their specific restrictions are regarding wattage hours and lithium batteries.

12. Cigarettes and Tobacco

You cannot domestically or internationally ship cigarettes and tobacco. You can, however, ship cigars. Speak with the courier company to see if they have the proper licensing to ship these items.

Want to Know More About Shipping Restrictions?

When researching shipping restrictions, start with information available within your industry. Know, too, that small businesses won’t qualify to ship items such as fireworks without proper licensing, permits, and procedures.

Always consult with courier companies before shipping any questionable goods. They will be able to better help you understand how, if, and when you can ship items through their company.

Visit our website to learn more about our shipping services.