Blog. Restrictions

December 18, 2018

Shipping Household Goods and Personal Effects (HHG & PE) may seem like a super complicated process but it's really not; with the right information. This is why I wanted to provide some advice based on my experience in shipping over the last 21 years. In this article I will discuss restricted and prohibited items. 

Each country has their own rules about what is allowed to be imported even as your own personal effects. Customs is responsible not only to collect taxes (duty) and control the flow of commerce but they also are the first line of defense of bio-security.  Destinations all of this world are comprised of unique ecosystems and one of Customs jobs is to keep out goods that could cause an unbalance.

Here are a few guidelines to follow about what NOT to take.

1)     Hazardous Materials – Combustibles (like aerosols), certain cleaning products, acetone or similar chemicals. Rule of thumb, if your item has a warning label on it leave it behind.

2)     Any food items that are derived from Animals including but not limited to: meats, skins, organs, dairy, honey <- yes, I said honey* it is a BIG deal worldwide.

3)     Bio-security items such as fish, wildlife, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, soil, plants and tree bark.

4)     Opened or unlabeled foodstuffs from your pantry.

5)     Unlabeled medications.

6)     Alcohol, pornography, firearms and some religious books and articles are restricted to certain destinations.

7)     Engines, transmissions, vehicles of a certain age, gas powered tools and lawn equipment. Some countries heavily regulate              emissions produced by these types of goods.

8)     Goods in bulk for the intention of resale


Check the destination Customs Website or where you got your Visa. Both are full of information of do’s and don’ts. If you can’t find it than ask your shipping agent. I often provide this type of information to my customers supplied by my agent at destination. Stay in compliance to import regulations and you should have a drama free experience – plus a much cheaper one.


If you are returning to the USA after living abroad make sure you check the US Customs website to double check your inventory against restricted items.


If you ship restricted items you may have your shipment seized, destroyed or returned to the origin country or you could get a penalty. Either way it will cost you in time and storage fees.

Working with your local broker and sending them your packing list for approval is the best and fastest to have peace of mind.


The next blog will talk in detail about packing lists – check out the below true story as a testament of why they are so important


Experience Talks

We handled a move from USA to Italy for a couple moving for a new job. To save money they boxed up their own goods (which is perfectly fine!) and they provided a packing list. I sent the list over to my agent in Italy for approval then we sent the cargo to Milan. Upon arrival, an inspection by Italian Customs found a jar of honey in one of the boxes; this held up their shipment for 6 weeks. Italian customs wanted a veterinary certificate for the bees that produced the honey which of course was impossible to get. the shipping and destination agents were not held accountable because the shipper didn’t list it on the packing list so we had no knowledge of it. There was a lot of finger pointing it was a huge mess.  The couple paid a fine and storage and finally were able to pick up their goods. 


Knowledge is the key. Fines and penalties are avoidable if you do your homework and get good advice ( and get it in writing).  

Shameless Plug: I would be overjoyed to be able to quote on your shipment. Please request a quote today or contact me by clicking the link below.


Next topic we will discuss paperwork.   😊


Sue Fitzgerald  <click here to email me

General Manager

Dove Shipping International Inc.­


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