What you can and can’t send in the post!

6 Dec 2018


Who’d have thought there were so many rules and regulations about what you can and cannot send in the post. For instance, you are allowed to post a tarantula (but please don’t), but you are not allowed to post alcohol of the strength you’d probably need if you opened up a parcel and a monster spider ran up your arm!

As you’d expect, the rules are there for reasons of safety – for some items, there is a total prohibition, but for the majority there are restrictions.

It is your responsibility to find out if an item is restricted or prohibited, and to ensure all restricted items are properly packaged and labelled. If you are unsure, ask a member of staff.

Be aware that if you send goods that are prohibited or restricted without complying with the terms and conditions, you could be liable for prosecution.

Here are some of the items you may want to post – you may be surprised by those that are prohibited or restricted.

Prohibited items

  • Alcoholic drinks that are above 70% proof
  • Aerosols that are not for personal grooming or medical use, i.e. spray paint, oven cleaner and even air fresheners
  • Some batteries, e.g. car batteries, lithium batteries that are not integrated into an electronic device or loose batteries
  • Illegal drugs (obviously)
  • Explosives – you may think this wouldn’t apply to you, but Christmas cracker snaps are classified as explosives, as are party poppers and fireworks
  • Flammable materials – you’d be surprised how many flammable items you use on a daily basis, e.g. nail varnish remover, matches, lighter fuel, paint stripper etc
  • Ice – well, it wouldn’t stay ice for very long
  • Lottery tickets from different countries (slipping a UK lottery ticket into a birthday or Christmas card is fine)
  • Pesticides, e.g. weed killers and fly spray
  • Waste of all kinds, including household waste and clinical waste
  • Dangerous animals

Restricted items

With all restricted items, your name and address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging, and you must present the package at the Post Office counter so a member of staff can help you label it. Restricted items include:

Aerosols for personal grooming or medicinal purposes – if you are sending someone, say, hair or body sprays as a gift, you must ensure that all valves are protected (e.g. with the protective cap on), and the items must be securely cushioned and wrapped in strong outer packaging.

Christmas crackers – with the cracker snaps classified as explosives you can only send your crackers via Royal Mail if they are in the original manufacturer’s packaging.

Electronic items with spare batteries – there are a number of restrictions on sending batteries that are integrated in electronic equipment and spare batteries to go with them. Please check the Royal Mail’s guidelines on restricted items for details of the different battery types and the unit numbers permitted.

Living creatures – you can send live insects, invertebrates and other creatures within the UK via Royal Mail, as long as you box and package the parcel to protect both the creatures and Royal Mail staff, send the package by 1st Class post at the very least, and clearly mark your parcel: ‘URGENT – LIVING CREATURES – HANDLE WITH CARE’.

Prescription medicine – these may only be sent by, or at the specific request of a medical practitioner. They must also be securely packaged to prevent leaks or spillages.

Sharp objects – if you are sending gardening tools, kitchen implements or knives, you must ensure that all objects are secure and unable to cut or pierce through the outer packaging. This means wrapping the sharp edges and points in heavy cardboard, and placing the utensil in a padded envelope or other cushioning packaging.

For a more detailed explanation of what is and is not possible to send through the post, talk to one of our counter staff at your nearest UOE Store & Post Office, or visit the Post Office website.

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