Moving overseas – what NOT to pack

In Packing by Carole Hallett Mobbs11 Comments

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What you must not ship abroad

When packing for your move abroad there are certain items that should not be packed into your shipment. Because this shipment is not accompanied by you certain items that need to be declared upon entry to your new country are prohibited from being packed. And other items are just plain forbidden.

  • Some items are banned from importation into other countries.
  • Certain items can be imported as long as you have the correct paperwork.
  • Other items should be carried as hand luggage or checked-in baggage on the plane.

Certain goods wouldn’t survive the long journey through a huge range of temperatures and valuable items such as jewellery and important documents shouldn’t be packed but carried with you on the plane.

Banned, restricted and hazardous items

Basically these ‘must not ship’ items are split into three types; banned, restricted and hazardous.

  • Banned items are… well, banned.
  • Restricted items usually require extra paperwork and have to be personally declared at customs in the destination country.
  • Hazardous items are any items which may be dangerous to life, health or property.

What is prohibited from shipping overseas?

Do not assume this list is full and accurate for the country you are moving to! It’s a guideline and each country has laws that change regularly.

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, these items usually appear on all country’s import laws. All countries prohibit or restrict the importation of certain goods; it’s up to you to take note of your destination country’s import laws and regulations. For further information do your own, independent research and speak to your removal company.

  • Weapons: guns, swords
  • Aerosols and other pressurised containers: e.g. hairspray, shaving cream, antiperspirant and insect repellent
  • Foodstuffs, including dried and tinned food
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Corrosives: e.g. batteries
  • Explosives: e.g. fireworks, ammunition.
  • Inflammables: e.g. nail varnish, paint, lighter fuel, matches.
  • Drugs or medicines: carry these with you with paperwork from your doctor
  • Animal skins: clothing, shoes or ornaments made from skins, or the by-products of endangered species
  • Vegetable matter: e.g. plants, bulbs, seeds, soil, sand
  • Pornographic material
  • Radioactive substances
  • Poisons: e.g. pesticides, bleach, mercury thermometers,

While I haven’t been able to put links in for all countries of the world (!) these will give you guidance. Please feel free to add any further official links in the comments below.



South Africa

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  1. Pingback: Shipping furniture overseas: How to get it done on a budget

  2. We are moving from Canada to the UK. I can’t find any site that tells me if I can take tinned and jarred food with me? Can you direct me somewhere? The moving company isn’t helpful. Thank you!

    1. Author

      I’m surprised your removal company isn’t able to tell you. They usually have detailed information on what they will ship or not.

      Generally, I think it’s not recommended to ship anything perishable, or likely to explode due to fluctuating temperatures. I think food tins would come under the latter, and jars – the former.
      Perhaps join my Expat Parents Support Group on Facebook to ask the experienced expats there for a greater selection of opinions!

  3. Hello I’m moving to Antigua and Barbuda could I have additional information please

  4. thinking of going to Canary Islands from UK (relocating) what am I NOT allowed to take? when it comes packing up the home?

  5. I’ve got one more link for you:

    South Africa –

    Its no surprise that there are so many regulations around shipping fire arms and suchlike that if you’re planning to ship restricted items its *essential* to fully investigate the legalities of such situations.

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