What can I send abroad?

Make sure you understand what you can and can not post abroad.

Overview

For safety reasons or to comply with country specific legislation, there are some restrictions on what you can and can't send through the post

You may be surprised to discover that common items like perfume and nail varnish are included on the prohibited and restricted items lists.

Take a look at the tables on the following pages to find out what you're allowed to send abroad.

You're responsible for making sure that you're not posting any restricted or prohibited items.

You could be prosecuted if you don't follow these regulations, so don't take any chances.

If you need to know more, go to the A-Z country specific information.

The tables on the following pages cover all international mail services from Parcelforce and Royal Mail.

If you're not sure about the item you wish to post, please call Customer Services on 0345 774 0740. Textphone users should call 0345 600 0606.

Prohibited items

Items you’re not allowed to send in the post

We reserve the right to refuse any other item banned by law or that in our opinion may be harmful or dangerous to our customers or employees. If you send dangerous goods and do not comply with the applicable terms and conditions and legal requirements then we may deal with the goods as we see fit including destroying or disposing of the relevant goods.

Customers posting items overseas should note that other postal administrations may have different prohibitions. We cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to items if the articles inside are prohibited in the country you’re posting them to. If you need to know more, go to the A-Z country specific information.

Prohibited item*

Detailed information
Aerosols Including spray paints, lacquers, solvents, air fresheners, oven cleaners, deodorants, body sprays, hair sprays, shaving and hair removal creams.
Alcoholic beverages

With an alcohol content greater than 24% ABV including spirits such as gin, vodka and whisky.

Alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content no greater than 24% ABV including beer, lager, wine and champagne, are allowed. Please see the International Restricted Items page.
Ammunition Except lead pellets and other airgun and airsoft projectiles.
Asbestos  
Balloons filled with non-flammable gas  
Batteries

Batteries that are classed as dangerous goods* by the latest edition of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions are prohibited. This includes lithium ion/polymer/metal/alloy batteries sent in isolation or with equipment.

*Classified in the latest edition of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Technical Instructions. 

Lithium ion/polymer/metal/alloy batteries when sent contained in equipment such as a mobile phone or digital camera are allowed. Please see the International Restricted Items tab.

Lead acid batteries (e.g. car batteries) and sealed lead acid batteries are also prohibited.

Alkaline, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries may only be sent when new and in their original packaging. Please see the International Restricted Items page.
Biological Substances (Category B) Human or animal material including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluids.
Clinical and medical waste For example contaminated dressings, bandages and needles.
Controlled drugs and narcotics Including cannabis, cocaine, heroin, LSD, opium and amyl nitrate.
Corrosives Substances which can cause severe damage to living tissue, other freight or transport by its chemical action are prohibited including aluminium chloride, caustic soda, corrosive cleaning fluid, dyes, acids, corrosive paint and rust removers, mercury and gallium metal.
Counterfeit currency, bank notes and postage stamps Including any false instrument, or copy of a false instrument (within the meaning of section 5 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981) except copies of old denominations, which are now obsolete and worthless except for collectable value and cannot be passed as tender. Please see the International Restricted Items page.
Dry ice For example UN1845 when used as a coolant for UN3373 or for other perishable items.
Environmental waste Including used batteries and used engine oil.
Electronic items sent with lithium ion/polymer/metal/alloy batteries

Electronic items sent with lithium ion/polymer/metal/alloy batteries where the battery is not contained in electronic equipment are prohibited.

Lithium ion/polymer/metal/alloy batteries when sent contained in electronic equipment such as a mobile phone or digital camera are allowed. Please see the International Restricted Items page.
Electronic items containing any batteries exceeding 100Wh Including some high performance laptops and power tools.
Environmental waste Including used batteries and used engine oil.

Explosives

Any chemical compound, mixture or device capable of producing an explosive or pyrotechnic effect with substantial instantaneous release of heat and gas is prohibited e.g. ammunition, blasting caps, fireworks, flares, fuses, igniters and nitro-glycerine.

Items that appear to be prohibited explosive ordnance All munitions containing explosives, nuclear fission or fusion materials, and biological and chemical agents may be subject to additional checks and delays.
Flammable liquids This includes mixtures of liquids or liquids containing solids in solution or suspension which give off a flammable vapour. Any liquid with a closed cup flash point below 60.5° C is prohibited e.g. acetone, benzene, cleaning compounds, gasoline, lighter fuel, paint thinners and removers, petroleum and solvents, certain alcoholic beverages, perfumes and aftershaves, varnishes and enamels including nail varnish.
Flammable solids Solid materials which are liable to cause fire by friction, absorption of water, spontaneous chemical changes or retained heat from manufacturing or processing, or which can be readily ignited and burn vigorously e.g. adhesives, calcium carbide, cellulose nitrate products, fire-lighters, matches, metallic magnesium, nitro-cellulose based film, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, sodium hydride, zinc powder, zirconium hydride.
Frozen water Including packs of ice.
Gases

Gases that are compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure, permanent gases which cannot be liquefied at ambient temperatures, liquefied gases which become liquid under pressure at ambient temperatures, dissolved gases which are dissolved under pressure in a solvent.

1. All flammable compressed gases are prohibited e.g. blowlamps; butane; lighters and refills containing flammable liquid or gas; ethane; gas cylinders for camping stoves; hydrogen; methane and propane.

2. All toxic compressed gases are prohibited e.g. chlorine; fluorine etc.

3. All non-flammable compressed gases are prohibited e.g. air bags; scuba tanks, carbon dioxide; fire extinguishers; neon and nitrogen.
Goods made in foreign prisons
 
Except those imported for a non-commercial purpose, of a kind not manufactured in the UK, or those in transit.
Human and animal remains Including ashes.
Infectious substances UN2814 or UN2900 Category A Infectious Substances are prohibited e.g. Ebola, Anthrax, Foot and Mouth disease as detailed in the latest edition of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions. For more information please see the Royal Mail’s IATA Guidance Document on Infectious Substances .
Lighters and refills containing flammable liquid or gas

Including used butane and petrol cigar and cigarette lighters.

New and unused empty lighters are allowed. Please see the International Restricted Items page.

Liquids over 1 litre

 
Living creatures Such as insects used to feed exotic pets, animals and reptiles Except certain insects and invertebrates. Please see the International Restricted Items page.
Lottery tickets  
Magnetised material Magnetised material with a magnetic field strength of 0.159A/m or more at a distance of 2.1m from the outside of the package.
Matches Of any kind, including safety and windproof matches.
Nail varnish, polish or gel  
Obscene publications and unlawful indecent images Including obscene or extreme pornography as detailed in Part 5 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child as detailed in section 160 and 161 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Oxidising materials and organic peroxides These are substances such as disinfectants that may cause or contribute to combustion of other substances. They may also be liable to explosive decomposition, react dangerously with other substances and injure health e.g. bromides, chlorates, components of fibreglass repair kits, disinfectants, nitrates, per chlorates, permanganates and peroxides, including hair dyes and colourants containing peroxide.
Perfumes and aftershaves Including eau de parfum and eau de toilette
Pesticides Including weed killer and any chemical that is used to kill pests and insects such as fly sprays.
Poisonous, toxic liquids, solids or gases

Including substances that are liable to cause death or injury if swallowed or inhaled or by skin contact, such as arsenic,

beryllium, cyanide, fluorine, rat poison.
Radioactive materials Radioactive materials and samples that are classified as radioactive using Table 2-12 of the latest edition of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions e.g. fissile material (uranium 235, etc), radioactive waste material, thorium or uranium ores and luminous dials from aircraft.
Solvent-based paints, wood varnishes and enamels Including gloss paint

Tickets and related advertisements

for illegal lotteries
 
Waste, dirt, filth or refuse Including household waste or rubbish.
Weapons

Including Section 5 firearms, CS gas and pepper sprays, flick knives, tasers and stun guns. Items that appear to be prohibited weapons may be subject to additional checks and delays.

Guns for sporting use - including Section 1, Section 2 firearms and low-powered airguns - are allowed subject to applicable export controls on the shipment of firearms. Please see the International Restricted Items page.
Restricted items

Things you are allowed to post, but with restrictions

*We reserve the right to refuse any other item banned by law or that in our opinion may be harmful or dangerous to our customers or employees. If you send dangerous goods and do not comply with the applicable terms and conditions and legal requirements then we may deal with the goods as we see fit including destroying or disposing of the relevant goods.

Restricted item *

Detailed information
Alcoholic beverages Including beer, lager, wine and champagne, with an alcohol content no greater than 24% ABV.

Wrap in polythene and seal with tape. Surround with absorbent material such as newspaper and sufficient cushioning material to protect each item from breakage. Volume should not exceed 1 litre per item. Mark as ‘FRAGILE’ when sending glass bottles. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Any alcoholic beverage with alcohol content greater than 24% ABV is prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Batteries - new alkaline, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or nickel cadmium (NiCd) Including D, C, 9V, AA, AAA and AAAA alkaline batteries. Must be new and sent unopened in their original retail packaging. Surround with cushioning material e.g. bubble wrap. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
Batteries - lithium ion/polymer batteries contained in equipment Each package must contain no more than four cells or two batteries installed in equipment. The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries is 5kg per package. Watt-hour rating must not exceed 20Wh per cell or 100Wh per battery. Each cell and battery must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, section 38.3. Batteries are subject to these tests irrespective of whether the cells of which they are composed have been so tested.

Cells and batteries must be manufactured under a quality management programme as specified in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Cells or batteries that are defective for safety reasons, or that have been damaged, are forbidden. Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries with or in equipment for transport must receive adequate instruction on the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Cells and batteries must be protected against short circuit.

The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in strong rigid packaging and must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Lithium ion/polymer batteries sent in isolation or sent with but not contained in equipment are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Batteries - lithium metal/alloy batteries contained in equipment Each package must contain no more than four cells or two batteries installed in equipment. The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries is 5kg per package. The lithium content must not be more than 1g per cell or 2g per battery. Each cell and battery must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, section 38.3. Batteries are subject to these tests irrespective of whether the cells of which they are composed have been so tested.

Cells and batteries must be manufactured under a quality management programme as specified in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Cells or batteries that are defective for safety reasons, or that have been damaged, are forbidden. Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries with or in equipment for transport must receive adequate instruction on the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Cells and batteries must be protected against short circuit.

The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in strong rigid packaging and must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.Lithium metal/alloy batteries sent in isolation or sent with but not contained in equipment are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Christmas crackers Crackers can only be sent in their complete made-up form and in their original retail packaging.
Counterfeit currency, bank notes and postage stamps Only copies of old denominations, which are now obsolete and worthless except for collectable value and cannot be passed as tender are allowed.

Any false instrument or copy of a false instrument (within the meaning of section 5 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981) is prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Electronic items sent with new alkaline, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries Must be new and sent unopened in their original retail packaging. Surround with sufficient cushioning material to protect each item from damage. Wrap each item, including plugs, individually. Place item in a rigid container and cushion to avoid movement. Any equipment sent with batteries or cells must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and must be packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
Electronic items – sent with lithium ion/polymer batteries contained in equipment

Each package must contain no more than four cells or two batteries installed in equipment. The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries is 5kg per package. Watt-hour rating must not exceed 20Wh per cell or 100Wh per battery. Each cell and battery must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, section 38.3. Batteries are subject to these tests irrespective of whether the cells of which they are composed have been so tested.

Cells and batteries must be manufactured under a quality management programme as specified in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Cells or batteries that are defective for safety reasons, or that have been damaged, are forbidden. Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries with or in equipment for transport must receive adequate instruction on the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Cells and batteries must be protected against short circuit.

The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in strong rigid packaging and must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Lithium ion/polymer batteries sent in isolation or sent with but not contained in equipment are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Electronic items – sent with lithium metal/alloy batteries contained in equipment

Each package must contain no more than four cells or two batteries installed in equipment. The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries is 5kg per package. The lithium content must not be more than 1g per cell or 2g per battery. Each cell and battery must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, section 38.3. Batteries are subject to these tests irrespective of whether the cells of which they are composed have been so tested.

Cells and batteries must be manufactured under a quality management programme as specified in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Cells or batteries that are defective for safety reasons, or that have been damaged, are forbidden. Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries with or in equipment for transport must receive adequate instruction on the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Cells and batteries must be protected against short circuit.

The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in strong rigid packaging and must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Lithium ion/polymer batteries sent in isolation or sent with but not contained in equipment are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Guns for sporting use Guns intended for sporting purposes - including Section 1 and Section 2 firearms, low-powered air guns and their component parts - may be sent in compliance with UK law and subject to applicable export controls on the shipment of firearms. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
Lighters New and unused empty lighters may be sent unopened in their original retail packaging. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Lighters and refills containing flammable liquid or gas (including used butane and petrol cigar and cigarette lighters) are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.

Living creatures Such as insects used to feed exotic pets, insects and invertebrates

Including bees, caterpillars, cockroaches, crickets, destroyers of noxious pests, earthworms, fish fry and eggs, leeches and other parasites, lugworms, maggots, mealworms, pupae and chrysalides, rag worms, silkworms, spiders and stick insects.

Must be boxed and packaged to protect the creatures, our staff and our customers from harm. Items must be clearly marked ‘URGENT –LIVING CREATURES Such as insects used to feed exotic pets - HANDLE WITH CARE’. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Live animals and reptiles are prohibited, as are any creatures or insects classified as dangerous within the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (including certain venomous spiders). Please see International Prohibited Items page.

Magnetised materials (other than those that are prohibited) Should be wrapped in soft packaging at least 2cm thick around each item. The sender’s name and address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Magnetised material with a magnetic field strength of 0.159A/m or more at a distance of 2.1m from the outside of the package are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Prescription medicines and drugs sent for scientific purposes May only be sent by, or at the specific request of, a qualified medical practitioner, registered dental practitioner, veterinary surgeon, registered nurse or a recognised laboratory or institution.

Medicines classified as non-flammable or non-toxic must be securely closed and placed in a leak-proof container such as a sealed polythene bag (for liquids) or a sift-proof container (for solids). Must be tightly packed in strong outer packaging and must be secured or cushioned to prevent any damage. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Medicines classified as flammable, toxic or flammable and toxic are prohibited. Please see International Prohibited Items page.
Radioactive material and samples that are not classified as dangerous goods in the latest edition of the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) such as samples of granite rock. Surround with cushioning material e.g. bubble wrap. The sender's name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
Sharp objects Sharp objects like knives, kitchen utensils and gardening tools may only be posted if they are packaged appropriately so that they are no risk to employees, other postal items or recipients.
Vaccines May only be sent by, or at the specific request of, a qualified medical practitioner, registered dental practitioner, veterinary surgeon, registered nurse or a recognised laboratory or institution.

The vaccines must be securely closed and placed in a leak-proof liner such as a sealed polythene bag (for liquids) or a sift-proof container (for solids). Must be tightly packed in strong outer packaging and must be secured or cushioned to prevent any damage. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
Water-based paints, wood varnishes and enamels The items must be securely closed and placed in a leak-proof liner, such as a sealed polythene bag, so that any inadvertent leakage is contained within the outer packaging. Surround with absorbent material such as newspaper and sufficient cushioning material to protect each item from damage. Volume per item should not exceed 150ml. No more than four items can be sent in any one package. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Call charges

0345: Calls to 03 numbers will cost no more than calling a standard geographic number starting with 01 or 02 from your fixed line or mobile and may be included in your call package dependent on your service provider. Calls may be monitored or recorded for training and compliance purposes.

Ready to send something abroad? Pop down to your local branch.