To Ship or Not to Ship: What You Need to Know When Shipping Prohibited Items

Shipping Prohibited Items

When it comes to shipping items, it is crucial to understand the restrictions and regulations imposed by major courier services. These guidelines ensure the safe transportation of goods, compliance with international laws, and the prevention of shipping prohibited items. In this comprehensive article, we will discuss the prohibited and regulated items for shipping by some of the major couriers worldwide, including USPS (United States Postal Service).


FedEx, a leading courier service globally, enforces strict guidelines on shipping prohibited items. These include:

a) Hazardous materials: Shipping prohibited items such as explosives, flammable gases, corrosives, oxidizers, and radioactive materials is not allowed by FedEx.

b) Illegal substances: To maintain legality and safety, FedEx strictly prohibits the shipment of narcotics, illegal drugs, and drug paraphernalia.

c) Firearms and weapons: Except for authorized military or law enforcement shipments, FedEx restricts shipping prohibited items like firearms, ammunition, and weapons.

d) Live animals: FedEx has specific regulations for shipping live animals, ensuring proper documentation, appropriate packaging, and temperature control.

e) Perishable goods: While FedEx permits the shipping of perishable items, they have guidelines for packaging and time constraints to avoid shipping prohibited items that could spoil or deteriorate during transit.


United Parcel Service (UPS) follows stringent guidelines regarding prohibited and regulated items to maintain safe and legal shipping practices. Key points include:

a) Dangerous goods: UPS prohibits shipping prohibited items such as hazardous materials, including explosives, flammable liquids, gases, and toxic substances.

b) Firearms and weapons: UPS has strict rules regarding the shipping of firearms, ammunition, and other weapons to prevent the transportation of prohibited items.

c) Pharmaceuticals and medical supplies: While UPS allows the shipping of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, they require adherence to temperature control, proper packaging, and documentation for the lawful transportation of these items.

d) Alcohol and tobacco: UPS has regulations in place for shipping prohibited items like alcohol and tobacco products, including age restrictions and appropriate packaging.

e) Fine art and antiques: UPS may have restrictions on shipping valuable or delicate items like fine art, antiques, and collectibles, ensuring the proper handling and packaging to prevent damage to these prohibited items.


DHL, a major international courier, also maintains guidelines for shipping prohibited items. Here are key considerations:

a) Prohibited goods: DHL strictly prohibits the shipment of illegal substances, including narcotics, counterfeit items, and stolen goods, to prevent the transportation of these prohibited items.

b) Hazardous materials: DHL adheres to international regulations for shipping dangerous goods, restricting the transportation of explosives, flammable substances, and radioactive materials that are considered prohibited items.

c) Wildlife and endangered species: DHL follows international conservation regulations, which prohibit the shipment of live animals, animal products derived from endangered species, and certain plant species as prohibited items.

d) Electronic devices: DHL may have restrictions on shipping prohibited items such as certain electronic devices that contain lithium batteries due to safety concerns.

e) Cash and valuable items: DHL may impose limitations or special handling requirements for shipping prohibited items like cash, jewelry, and other valuable items to prevent loss or theft during transit.

USPS (United States Postal Service)

As a major courier service in the United States, USPS has its own guidelines for shipping prohibited items:

a) Hazardous materials: USPS strictly follows regulations for shipping prohibited items classified as hazardous materials, including explosives, flammable substances, and toxic chemicals.

b) Firearms and weapons: USPS has specific rules regarding the shipment of firearms, ammunition, and weapons to prevent the transportation of prohibited items, including restrictions on certain firearm types and international shipments.

c) Illegal substances: USPS prohibits the shipment of illegal drugs, narcotics, and drug paraphernalia as prohibited items to ensure compliance with the law.

d) Live animals: While USPS permits the shipment of some live animals, strict requirements and restrictions must be followed, including proper documentation, packaging, and adherence to animal welfare guidelines.

e) Perishable goods: USPS allows the shipment of perishable items while considering guidelines for proper packaging and time constraints, avoiding shipping prohibited items that may spoil or become unusable during transit.

Shipping prohibited items requires adherence to the guidelines set by major courier services such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, and USPS. By familiarizing yourself with these guidelines, you can ensure compliance with international laws, maintain the safety of shipping personnel, and facilitate the secure transportation of goods. Always consult the specific guidelines provided by the courier service and seek clarification if you have any doubts about shipping a particular item. By following these guidelines, you can experience a smooth and hassle-free shipping process while adhering to regulations and preventing the shipment of prohibited items.