Some Things You Are Not Allowed to Send Around The World

8 October, 2010 - 04:02

Near the end of a long trip in 2006 I visited the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol where I picked up a poster entitled "Some things You Are Not Allowed To Send Around The World". By sheer coincidence I now have a blog post of that very same title. Perhaps it is a sign.

Artist Melanie Jackson created a poster as an artwork which lists different countries' bizarro mailing rules. This is a snippet from her website:

Some Things You Are Not Allowed To Send Around The World is a poster made up of the recent ‘prohibition and restriction’ guidelines issued by international post offices. The assembled list reveals some of the superstitions and regional eccentricities associated with the exchange of goods. This poster will be available as one of a series of free publications produced for the exhibition.

I was completely fascinated and amused by the list and while you will sadly not be getting any free posters from this website, I have provided you with its contents below *.

I love YOU, Czech Republic: "Chain letters". My comments are in grey.

Algeria Australia Benin
China Croatia Czech Republic
Ecuador Dominican Republic Faroe Islands
France Germany Iceland
Israel Italy Jamaica
Jordan Kuwait Morocco
Oman Paraguay Peru
Somalia Sri Lanka Tajikistan
United Kingdom Unites States of America Quatar
Vietnam Zimbabwe
  • Articles made of tortoise-shell, mother of pearl, ivory, bone meerschaum and amber (succin), natural or reconstructed, worked jade and mineral substances similar to jade
  • Canned vegetables, fish, plums and nuts
  • Funeral urns
  • Household articles made of tin
  • Perishable infectious biological substances
  • Perishable non-infectious biological substances
  • Pictures and printed matter of pornographic or immoral nature, or which tend to incite crime or juvenile deliquency
  • Saccharine in tablets or packets
  • Used clothing, accessories, blankets, linen, textile furnishings, footwear and headwear
  • Watches and clocks.
  • Fruit cartons (used or new)
  • Goods bearing the name "Anzac"
  • Animals and animal products, brushes, second-hand carpets, margarine, vaccines, plant and plant material (including pot pourri, heather, fir cones, shamrock), sugar, syrup and molasses, straw packing
  • Goods produced wholly or partly in prisons or by convict labour
    "We'll produce our own, mate."
  • Cinema films
    They aren't big into non-alcohol related fun in Australia
  • Registered philatelic articles with fictitious addresses
    And let's all be truthful here. Nobody likes a stamp-collecter.
  • Seditious literature
  • Alcoholic beverages and products which could be used for the manufacture of alcoholic beverages
  • Banana, citrus, cocoa, coffee, cotton plants, sugar cane, saccharine and chemical food colouring
  • Gramaphone records
  • Medals and coins
  • Military equipment
  • Mineral water
  • Uncut diamonds
  • Water hyacinths
  • Articles in hermetically sealed non-transparent containers
  • Funeral urns containing ashes
  • Pork products
  • Printed matter, manuscripts, notices, photographic negatives, gramophone records and sound-track tapes which could do political, economical, cultural or moral harm to the People's Republic of China
  • Radio transmitters or receivers
  • Wrist-watches, cameras, television sets, radio sets, tape recorders, bicycles, sewing machines and ventilators
  • Celluloid and film
  • Grain grown or stored in the UK
  • Plants and seeds
  • Raw meats, meats, milk and dairy products of all kinds from cattle, goats, pigs, sheep and other cloven hoofed animals
  • Spoons, forks, whistles
Czech Republictop
  • Chain letters
  • Publications, sheet music, drawings, photographs, films etc prejudicial to the Republic
    Heaven help you if you're caught posting prejudicial chain letters
  • Feeding bottles
  • Footwear of leather, fabric or rubber
  • Horse bits and mouth pieces of copper
  • Items and objects of immoral nature eg horse bits?
  • Pointed or sharp-edged objects
  • Preparations for erasing ink or other writings
  • Roulette wheels or gambling articles
  • Straw hats
    A straw hat in Ecuador stays a straw hat in Ecuador
Dominican Republictop
  • Communist literature
  • Poniards, daggers, stilletos, sticks, or fans with concealed blades or firearms
    At least one country has recognized stilletos as the dangerous items they are and classified them accordingly
  • Roulette games and other gambling devices
Faroe Islandstop
  • Danish currency
  • Dried milk products, honeycombs
  • Raw hides
I hadn't even heard of this place but should I ever wind up there I will now know not to try and post my raw hides and Danish currency
  • Measuring instruments marked in units not complying with French law
    The French are really serious about implementing standards.
  • Absinthe
  • Articles bearing political or religious notions on the address side
    What, so you can post them as long as they're not on the address side? *shreds all the religious-notion postcards I'd just written to all my friends and family
  • Melatonin
    I find this one quite interesting considering that melatonin is an over-the-counter drug in many other places
  • Playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped
    "Ve vill not tolerate anyone in foreign countries cheating anyone in a game of cards posted in ZIS country!"
  • Pulverized cocoa beans
  • Bees
    But Iceland is facing an economic meltdown! How am I supposed to get my bees out?!
  • Hay and straw
  • Lead toys
  • Rags
  • Silk worms
  • Blank invoices with headings
  • Games of chance
  • Indecent or obscene marks, paintings, photographs, books, cards, lithographs, or engravings
  • Organic fertilizers
  • Lottery tickets or advertisements
    If any of these are discovered they will be tossed straight into the non-organic fertilizer pile
  • Soil and sand
    I think that the person who tries to mail sand has a bigger problem than Israel's restrictions
  • Spices exceeding 1kg
  • Used beehives
    Sorry, Amy Winehouse.
These guys are severe
  • Albums of any kind
  • Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them
    Huh? You mean like those awful garden gnomes?
  • Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof
    for these shall surely drive the mailman nuts
  • Cartridge caps, cartridges
  • Clocks and supplies for clocks
    this is part of their plan to have the rest of the world be as un-punctual
  • Compound medicaments and medicines
  • Coral mounted in any way
  • Ether and chloroform
    Ok, fair enough...
  • Exposed photographic and cinematographic films
  • Footwear of any kind
    Oh sweet torture. Why Italy, why? We love your shoes.
  • Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls; needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps and hats of any kind
  • Hair and articles made of hair
    Like my dad!
  • Leather goods
  • Lighters and their parts, including lighter flints
  • Live bees, leeches and silkworms
  • Nutmeg, vanilla, sea salt, rock salt, saffron
  • Parasites and predators of harmful insects
  • Perfumery goods of all kinds (except soap)
  • Playing cards of any kind
  • Postage stamps in sealed or unsealed letters
  • Ribbons for typewriters
  • Roasted or ground coffee and its substitutes, roasted chicory
  • Saccharine and all products containing saccharine
  • Salted, smoked or otherwise prepared meats, fats and lard
  • Toys not made wholly of wood
  • Treated skins and furs
  • Weapons of any kind and spare parts for them
  • Cotton and parts of cotton plants
  • Cordage and twine
  • Figurines
  • Honey, cocoa and cocoa products, coffee products, condensed milk
  • Advertisements concerning treatment of venereal diseases or medicinal preparations intended to serve as preventatives against those diseases
  • Rubber balloons
  • Binoculars
  • Alcoholic drink
    Because you know what happens with balloons and binoculars after a few alcoholic drinks..!
  • All goods of Israeli origin
  • Political publications
  • Tapes and casettes
  • Seditious literature
  • Spirits
  • Spurious substances designed to adulterate food and drink
    You mean like McDonalds?
  • Articles contrary to the principles of Islam
  • Liquid chemicals
  • Fire extinguishing products
  • Cultured, immitation, artificial and bleached pearls
  • Batteries
  • Plastic Toys
  • Soaps
  • Stocking and socks except those made of jersey
    >Because they want their country to be totally rid of any stockings made of jersey! I can respect that.
  • Suitcases, leather bags
  • Wool blankets
  • Artificial flowers and interior ornaments
    Because they're in poor taste?
  • Cameras
  • Ceramic products and immitation jewellery
  • Clothing, accessories, and underwear
    I'm sure stockings made of jersey do not count as being any of those items
  • Communist propoganda
  • Contraceptive products, remedies or apparatus
  • Credit cards
  • Daggers
  • Electrical household appliances
  • Ether
  • Footwear, shoes, boots and accessories
  • Furs and clothing made of fur
    Good for you, Peru. This is one I can stand by
  • Gloves and hosiery
  • Household articles of iron, steel, copper and aluminium
  • Household linens
  • Knuckledusters
  • Lighters
  • Perfume products or soaps
  • Playing cards
  • Politically sensitive material
    Having trouble imagining who would, or how this ever would happen
  • Sabres
  • Sound recorders and reproducing devices
    I hope you specified a return address on the photocopier that you mailed to Peru
  • Textiles and carpets
  • Toys or games for children which might harm the cultural or historical heritage of Peru
  • Travel articles, suitcases, attache cases, kits or similar articles
  • Waxes and creams for shoes
    Because these items do not exist in Peru
  • Wooden utensils
It seems that what exists in Peru, stays in Peru.
  • Abortifacients
  • Aphrodisiacs
    I suppose banning this item helps eliminate the need for the previous item
  • Condensed milk
    Likewise with this ;)
  • Picture postcards
Sri Lankatop
  • Account books, albums, calendars, carbon paper, chalk, envelopes, exercise books, pencils, pens, pen-holders, pins, registers, rubbers, wire clips
    In fact, make that any item that might encourage nerdy behaviour.
  • Ashtrays
  • Bicycle parts
  • Cameras and other photographic apparatus
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Crockery, tablewear, picnic baskets, flasks
  • Chemical products
  • Electric lamps for household use, torches
  • Greeting cards
  • Handbags and cases, traveling cases
  • Household electrical equipment
  • Jewellery and jewel cases
  • Household electrical equipment
  • Playing cards and similar games
  • Illustrated postcards
  • Publicity materials including films
  • Sarees
  • Scales
  • Sports goods
  • Sunglasses
  • Tape recorders and tape recorder parts
  • Toiletries
  • Toys made of earthenware or wood
  • Varnishes
  • Waste paper
I'd never even heard of Tjikistan before receiving this poster.
  • Documents, printed matter, photographs, and so on likely to be construed as prejudicial to Tajik views
  • Corrected proofs and printed matter with marked words or phrases
  • Stamp collections sent to private persons
  • Sulphate or copper
United Kingdomtop
  • Any postal item containing enclosures addressed to different persons at different addresses
  • Citizenz Band Radios, walkie-talkies, microbugs, and radio microphones that are capable of transmitting on any frequency between 26.1 - 29.7 megacycles per second and 88-108 Mhz per second
  • Goods made in foreign prisons, except those imported for a non-commercial purpose or of a kind not manufactured in the UK
  • Horror comics and matrices
  • Obscene articles, prints, paintings, cards, films, videotapes, etc
  • Seal skins except those from an accepted source
  • Switchblade knives
Unites States of Americatop
  • Advertisements for obscene/immoral articles
    I wonder how they gauge what is obscene or immoral in the land of the free?
  • Advertisements relating to lotteries
  • Contraceptives
  • Goods originating in Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam
  • Articles giving off a fetid odour
  • Cultured, immitation and bleached pearls
  • Items whose make-up does not comply with regulations
  • Garments bearing the name of the divinity or verses from the Koran
  • Obscene or immoral articles
  • Musical greeting cards
  • Remote controlled toy aircraft for children
  • Invisible ink, codes, cyphers, symbols or other types of secret correspondence, and shorthand notes
  • Perishable infectious biological substances
  • Radio transmitters and receivers and radio set accessories of any kind
  • Sealed, tinned foodstuffs
  • Unused postage stamps
  • Used clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and shoes
    These guys are crazy. How did shoes wind up categorized alongside mosquito nets?
  • Aphrodisiacs
    Perhaps this explains the mess that Zim is currently in.
  • Circulars relating to lotteries
    Because nobody anywhere has any money anymore in Zimbabwe
  • Fortune telling advertisements

* DISCLAIMER: I have not validated or even attempted to validate or cross check any of the information in this list. I have a job and more importantly I have a life that extends beyond the internet, so please don't turn up at my home wielding pitchforks and bad vibes if you spot something here that you believe to be incorrect. Having said that, I'd like to believe that this is all true and most especially the bit about the Czech Republic and chain letters, which would make them a more evolved being than the rest of us.