The differences between restricted and prohibited goods – Part 1 – Restricted goods

It's important to be aware of potential restrictions when shipping goods, both within the UK and internationally. There is a surprisingly long list of items that should not be sent in the mail, which also extends to items which may only be sent under certain conditions. These are deemed to be 'restricted'. 

What does restricted mean?

In a shipping sense, restricted can mean one of two things. It may mean that a certain item can be sent by post, but only if it meets certain criteria. For example in the case of alcohol, items can be sent in the UK mail but only if they have an ABV of 24 per cent or less. The same is also true for batteries, but instead they are restricted by type (car batteries are prohibited); the amount and must fall under a certain level of quality control. This means that damaged or defective batteries are forbidden and there are other rules which must be followed - for example lithium ion batteries may only sent with - but not connected to - an electronic device.

Restrictions like these on internal mail are generally in place for safety reasons; to prevent fire, damage to packages or to prevent risks to health and hygiene. In addition to those set out by the industry they may also vary between delivery companies. Some companies, like ipostparcels offer a list of restricted items which may be carried, but only on a no compensation basis and so travel at the risk of the sender.

What about international restricted goods?

A restriction can also mean that an item may only be sent if licence or permission has been gained from the relevant authority, but this usually refers to shipping overseas. Rules and procedures will vary from country to country so it's vitally important to check the restrictions for the country you are shipping to ahead of time, to factor in application for any licences which may be required. This information can usually be obtained from the customs authority of the intended country. Sending a restricted item without a licence will result in the package being seized by customs.

The reason why goods may carry restrictions overseas is usually down to import regulations on the particular country, which may be down to its religious status. For example, some countries with a strong Muslim faith have very strict rules on which texts are allowed to enter the country. In other cases it exists for economic reasons; to protect trade. It can also be for environmental or safety reasons, which is why many countries carry restrictions on things like seeds and dried fruit - to protect the native ecosystem from alien pests or disease.

When sending goods in the mail it's important to be aware of existing restrictions to make sure that your parcel reaches its destination safely without delay. Watch out for part two in this series where we'll cover prohibited items and how they differ.


You can find out more information here.

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