Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Weird mailing prohibitions in foreign countries

This morning I had to look up the USPS postal rate to send a letter to Germany, which was easy and I got just the info I was looking for: 98 cents. But I also found something I didn't expect: the inclusion of a strange item on a list of mailing prohibitions to the country — melatonin. Weird, but understandable. I wondered to myself what other weird exclusions might be found for international mailing, so I browsed the listings for other countries and discovered these.

Weird International Shipping Prohibitions:
Feeding bottles to France
Maps showing incorrect borders of Ecuador to Ecuador
Chain letters to the Czech Republic
“Musical” cards (that play a recording when opened) to Bulgaria
Leeches to Cyprus (why single out leeches?)
Police whistles to Guatemala
Bells to Italy
"Extravagant" clothes to Albania
Stilettos to the Dominican Republic
Rulers not in the metric system to Mali
Walkie-talkies to Great Britain
Blank invoices to Costa Rica
Pencils to Tunisia
Soap or socks to Syria
Newsprint paper to Guyana
Butter substitutes to Canada
Shaving brushes made in Japan to St. Lucia
Suitcases to Paraguay
Playing cards to Greece
Footballs to Iran (if they're made of pigskin)
Cassette tapes to Iraq (as if that's the only thing that's keeping terrorism alive there)

Paper and writing products (envelopes, ink, pencils, pens, erasers, chalk, etc.) to Sri Lanka.

... and whatever you are thinking of sending to Peru, forget about it because it's probably on the extensive list of things prohibited in mail sent to Peru.

Among many countries there are also the usual postal prohibitions, such as live plants, perishable food and material which may be offensive, such as pornography or religious material that isn't congruent with the state religion (such as Bibles to countries that are predominantly Muslim) as well as articles that may interfere with the country's commerce, such as leather shoes and straw hats to Ecuador, but the unexpected, other oddball prohibitions surprised me.

I also didn't expect so many countries to ban goods made by prisoners or convicts, but many do. Postal items bearing the mark of the Red Cross are also prohibited by a handful of countries in Africa, and many poor countries around the world prohibit people from mailing used clothing, be it shoes, hats or shirts. Maybe that's to prevent the spread of lice? I don't know. That would make sense, but newsprint to Guyana? Do they not want people to start up printed newspapers or what? It's not like newsprint is dangerous like stilettos are! Perhaps they really do not want people to produce printed material. Hell, in Sri Lanka, the government doesn't even want you to write.


Kate & Oli said...

haha, this was a great post - really informative! i'm posting it on my fb!

Alasdair said...

Don't set one foot in Mali. I wonder if they call it a back meter there?

Science Bear said...

Thanks for brightening my morning!

AmandaMay said...

What an interesting list! I wonder why they don't want pencils in Tunisia?!

Field Notes said...

I wish that my having actually been to Tunisia would provide some insight, but it puzzles me too, AM!

Becky said...

What a fascinating post! Thanks for the laugh and thought-provoking commentary. Perhaps I should have checked this listing before sending a package to my sister in Poland...

Kitty Wilkin said...

Wow~! Is this for real!? That's nuts! It really makes you wonder who comes up with those odd-ball items. I can picture some old dudes in a room now... "Oh! and stilettos! we mustn't dare allow those into our country!?" "No! Golly gosh, no!" haha wowza!