Here’s What You Can and Can’t Ship

Jon Fesmire | March 3, 2021 @ 3:30 PM

When you’re moving, or even if you simply want to send a gift to a friend, it’s a good idea to know what items are prohibited or restricted. Depending on the shipping company, the rules differ.

To help you figure out what you can ship, it’s easiest to tell you what you can’t. Let’s start with the scenario where you’re moving and have hired a moving company to help.

Shipping for Your Move

Most moving companies can’t and won’t ship the following items. This list is thorough, but not comprehensive, so we encourage you to ask the company for a full list.

  • Compressed Gasses

This includes scuba diving tanks, engine starting fluids, fire extinguishers, and aerosols.

  • Explosives

You don’t want anything blowing up while in transit. This includes things like ammunition, signal flares, firearms, dynamite, Sterno, fireworks, and propane tanks.

  • Flammables and Combustibles

If it can be set on fire or may ignite on its own, moving companies won’t ship it. These items include acetone, kerosene, petroleum products, paint and varnish remover, liquors, motor oil and fuel, matches, wood filler, pesticides, paint, weed killer, alcoholic beverages, other types of alcohol, disinfectants, and acids.

  • Perishables

If it may rot in transit, don’t send it with your movers. Don’t send your plants, opened or otherwise perishable foods, or anything else that can decompose with them.

  • Other Items

Moving companies don’t want to be responsible for harming your antiques, pets, or one-of-a-kind artistic works or pictures. Most also aren’t equipped to send your vehicles (though you can hire specialty companies that do ship cars and trucks), and naturally, it’s illegal to ship illegal or stolen items and contraband.

Shipping Through the Big 3 Carriers

Now, let’s have a look at what you can’t ship through the three major carriers, the United States Postal Service (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), and Federal Express (FedEx). When you move, you may use one of these to ship your items.

Naturally, they all have prohibited and restricted items.

USPS prohibits many of the things you’d expect, like ammunition, explosives, gasoline, and marijuana. Here’s a full list of prohibited and restricted USPS items.

UPS has a similar, though even longer, list, which includes odd things like Christmas crackers, passports, and sinks.

FedEx won’t send pharmaceuticals, precious metals, medical devices, and other things you might not expect to be on a restricted or prohibited list.

Note that USPS will send some food and other items that moving companies won’t ship.

What You Can Ship

Aside from the restricted items each service lists, you can ship most things. Some even have reduced shipping rates.

For example, if you’re sending paperwork, magazines, or books and nothing else, and are sending them domestically in the United States you can send those packages via USPS media mail. This adds a few days to delivery time but costs significantly less.

When in doubt, ask your moving company or contact your shipping company of choice and ask if a particular item is all right and if they have recommendations for how to send it.

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