A Quick Glance At The 20 Most Bizarre Shipping Laws Around The World

Date: 28th November, 2018
Category: Rules and Regulations
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A Quick Glance At The 20 Most Bizarre Shipping Laws Around The World

With businesses going global and having to deal with clients, manufacturers, or suppliers in other countries, sending and receiving materials or equipment from international destinations has become a very common phenomenon. Apart from business packages, there are also many personal items that are delivered to family and friends given the increasing number of people choosing to travel and stay in different countries.

Business or personal, international packages are regulated by international trade laws as well as custom and shipping regulations. These regulations are put in place to ensure safe passage and delivery of the goods to its intended destination and receiver. These laws regulate what comes in and goes out of the country, and every country has restrictions on the import of certain items.

While you may think the restrictions apply to the obvious items like poison, guns, or alcohol, that is not always the case. Countries are known to have some really bizarre rules on what can and cannot pass through their borders. While there may be a logical explanation or an interesting history behind the ban, on the face of it, the laws surely come off as peculiar.

Below is a list of the 20 countries with a ban on some unusual products.

1. Afghanistan – The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner, ironically set against the backdrop of Afghanistan, was banned in its homeland after government officials deemed some of its scenes to be unacceptable and could incite violence. This film was based on an equally successful book by a US-based Afghan author, which puts the spotlight on life in Afghanistan from the Soviet occupation to the rise of the Taliban. However, its import into the country is banned as some of its scenes are considered questionable and could cause trouble for the government.


2. Algeria – Toothpaste

Fluoride is one of the main ingredients in toothpaste and many other dental products. This is considered toxic and poisonous by many countries. For this reason, the import of toothpaste is banned in Algeria. Not just toothpaste, but import of other dental products is also banned here. So much for flaunting your pearly whites in Algeria.

3. Fiji – Holy Water

If you are returning to Fiji after your holy pilgrimage, then be prepared to take in not more than one pint of holy water. If the holy water exceeds one pint, then it has to be accompanied by a certificate confirming it is disease free; if not the godly water will be promptly impounded. This measure has been necessitated to control the spread of water borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and paratyphoid germs.


4. Nigeria – Wheelbarrow

If you are thinking of sending a wheelbarrow over to Nigeria, you might want to steer clear of that idea. The import of wheelbarrows are strictly forbidden as the country is looking to strengthen their own manufacturing industry. Apart from wheelbarrows, over time the country has imposed a ban on many other items from chocolate to toothpicks to ball point pens. This is done in order to boost the production of their native industries and local markets.


5. France – Clown Costumes

If you are looking to pull pranks dressed up as a clown for Halloween in the French town of Vendargues, then this might come as a tad bit of disappointing news. There is a ban in place on importing clown costumes, thanks to a wave of panic caused by pranksters dressing up as evil clowns, which led to widespread anti-clown vigilante across the whole country. It is said that it won’t be long before the ban becomes nationwide to protect children by preventing any ill-intentioned clowns from mixing with residents.


6. Saudi Arabia – Horns

Saudi Arabia has stringent noise restrictions. Be it music in greeting cards or in shopping centres, this country likes to keep its decibel levels to a minimum. So, it comes as no surprise that importing car horns into the country is an absolute no-no. So, if you find yourself stuck in an annoying traffic jam here, and feel like honking your spleen out, you are in a tough spot. For that matter, greeting cards with music are also on the banned list.

7. EU – Pufferfish

Though adorable looking, the Japanese Pufferfish is banned across EU owing to its highly toxic organs. The preparation of this fish needs extreme care and diligence, as one wrong fillet and deadly toxins can seep out, it can lead to asphyxiation and death. The chef preparing this dish has to be licensed and an expert in other countries. In EU, they believe unless you are a culinary daredevil, there are plenty of other fish in the sea to be savoured.

8. Mexico, India, South Africa – Matching Shoes

Your matching shoes are no match for this absurd law in these three countries. Apparently, it is considered illegal to send a pair of matching shoes to either of these three countries. This is done in an attempt to encourage and boost growth of the footwear industry in their respective countries. But, if you are on a holiday here, you do not have to walk around in mismatched footwear as matching personal shoes do not fall under the purview of this ban, and mostly applies to the shoe manufacturers.


9. Singapore – Chewing Gum

An early nineties ban to promote civic cleanliness has led to a total ban on chewing gum in this country. The ban covers importing, buying, and consuming chewing gum, as this business friendly country does not have such a friendly outlook when it comes to uncleanliness in their country. In the event of being caught with it, you will be slapped with a not-so-pretty-looking fine as a consequence.


10. United States – Kinder Eggs

The chocolatey delight of kids worldwide, Kinder Egg, is strictly prohibited from being imported into the US. It is a chocolate egg with a little toy inside. The toy is considered to be a choking hazard for the kids, hence, under the federal ban. Anyone caught trying to import it can be charged up to $2,500 per egg.

11. Japan – Vicks Inhalers

If you are looking for some Vicks inhalers to treat those pesky allergies in Japan, then good luck with that. You need a prescription for your sinus or allergy medications as they can also double as stimulants. Codeine medications are illegal to be bought into the country. So, if you are in need of any medicines containing codeine, you may have to skip visiting this country, or push back your vacation till you recover.

12. Malawi – Aphrodisiacs

This might come as a bummer for the lovers residing in Malawi. For reasons best known to them, the country’s officials have banned the entry of any imported aphrodisiac substances into the country. This means the love-birds of Malawi will have to hunt for alternatives to keep their passion flame burning.


13. Uganda – Japanese Shaving Brushes

Thanks to the anthrax contamination scandal, Japanese shaving brushes are banned in Uganda. So, travellers visiting Uganda cannot carry their Japanese shaving brush due to the fear that the hairs used could be infected with anthrax.


14. Venezuela – Feeding Bottles

In an attempt to promote breastfeeding, the Venezuelan lawmakers have banned the import of feeding bottles into the country. According to the legislators here, promotion of baby formula interferes with the crucial bond between a mother and child. So, in order to increase the love and bond between a mother and child through the act of breastfeeding, the import of feeding bottles is frowned upon by the lawmakers.


15. Italy – Plastic Toys

If you are planning on sending across plastic toys for any Italian tots, be warned that your package will not make it across the border. Italian kids are comfortably free of the annoying plastic, as there is a ban on shipping plastic toys to Italy. Only wooden toys are allowed to be shipped into the country.


16. Uruguay – Eye Glasses

This must come as good news for all the local opticians of Uruguay. There is a ban on imports containing foreign eye glasses from entering the country. This helps protect the business of the local spectacle makers.


17. Iran – Fashion Magazines

The strict religious code of conduct in this country is the foundation for this ban. Western influences on the youth is frowned upon here. Hence, it comes as no surprise that there is a restriction placed on the entry of fashion magazines into the country in order to shield their citizens from the apparent vile influences of the outside world.


18. Iraq – Binoculars

This law traces its roots to the previous regime which outlawed any form of spying equipment. So, if you are planning on shipping binoculars to Iraq, you may want to put a pause on that, as Iraq’s strict laws include restrictions on the shipping of binoculars to their country.


19. Guatemala – Police Whistles

It looks like somebody took the whole act of impersonating a police officer to new heights as there is a ban on importing police whistles into the country. This law has been put in place to prevent the crime of impersonating a police officer by miscreants.


20. Panama – Pastries

If you are in Panama, and craving for some of those yummy, crunchy Danish pastries, you are in tough luck. Panama has strict regulations against the import of foreign pastries into their territory. Doing so protects their native breakfast food.


There are many more such oddball custom laws around the world regarding what can and cannot make it through the borders of a particular country. Though the law might seem a little offbeat in itself, most of the laws have come into existence to protect their citizens and to encourage the growth of their local businesses.

So, the next time you feel altruistic and have the urge to ship across a parcel to a loved one, or are doing it for business purposes, make sure you are aware of the shipping do’s and don’ts of that country, so that your package does not run the risk of being left out in the cold at customs.