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Thinking about taking your e-commerce business international? Find out what you can’t send overseas.

Individual countries restrict and prohibit a range of goods for import – and some may surprise you.

For example, you can’t send cameras or bicycles to China, New Zealand says no to motorcycle helmets, sending batteries to the UK is a no-no, the US bans products made from cork, and Singapore won’t accept chewing gum.

Restrictions vs prohibitions

Most countries have a long list of import restrictions and prohibitions, but there’s a key difference between the two.

When goods that are prohibited for import, it means you can’t send listed goods to the country in question under any circumstances.

However, when goods are restricted, you may be allowed to import them with written permission from the appropriate authority in the destination country.

Import prohibitions

Beyond obvious prohibited items such as weapons, explosives, narcotics, animals and food, you may be surprised by some items you find on import prohibitions lists. China, for example, prohibits the import of bicycles, cameras, electric fans, records and watches, while New Zealand bans items made from plastic and untreated timber.

You’ll also run into trouble if you try to send electronic items containing batteries exceeding 100Wh to the UK, and the US will reject products made from wool.

Import restrictions

Countries apply import restrictions to several products. New Zealand has several regulations around wool and products containing wool, and you’ll need special permission to send precious metals such as gold and silver to China.

There are also rules around sending products containing radio transmitters to the UK, and Singapore puts restrictions on the import of books, magazines, newspapers and telecommunications equipment.

For a full list of import restrictions and prohibitions by country, visit Australia Post’s International Post Guide.

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