Unexpected Items You Cannot Send Through the Mail

While mailing packages are a part of daily life, with goods zipping across the globe, there are surprising restrictions on what can and cannot be sent through the mail. These rules are often in place for safety, legal, or health reasons, making it essential to check before dropping items off at the post office. Here’s a look at some unexpected items that are off-limits for mailing.

Lottery Tickets

While seemingly harmless, mailing lottery tickets is often restricted due to gambling laws. This prohibition aims to prevent underage gambling and ensure that gambling laws of different jurisdictions are respected.


Because perfumes typically contain alcohol, a flammable liquid, they are considered hazardous materials. There are strict regulations on how much can be sent and the manner in which it must be packaged and declared.

Live Animals

With few exceptions (like certain live insects or day-old poultry), sending live animals through the mail is prohibited due to concerns over their safety and well-being during transit.

Nail Polish

Like perfume, nail polish often contains flammable substances, making it subject to stringent shipping regulations. It must be properly packaged and labeled as hazardous material when mailed.


Products under pressure, such as spray paints, deodorants, and whipped cream, are considered hazardous. Their potential to explode under certain conditions makes them unsuitable for mail transport.

Lithium Batteries

Uninstalled lithium batteries, used in laptops and cell phones, pose a fire risk and are banned from being mailed internationally and, in some cases, domestically without proper installation in a device.

Dry Ice

Used for keeping items cold during shipping, dry ice is classified as a dangerous good due to its potential to explode and its extreme cold, requiring special handling and labeling for transport.

Alcoholic Beverages

Mailing alcohol is fraught with legal restrictions, varying widely between jurisdictions. It’s generally prohibited due to concerns about age verification and local liquor laws.

Sharp Objects

Knives, swords, and other sharp instruments can be mailed in some cases but must be properly packaged. They are regulated due to the risk of injury to postal workers and recipients.

Prescription Drugs

Mailing prescription drugs is generally restricted to entities that are registered with the relevant authorities. This is to prevent abuse and ensure that medications are properly prescribed.


While seemingly innocuous, safety matches are not allowed in the mail, and strike-anywhere matches are considered hazardous and are banned due to their potential to ignite.


Paints, especially those that are oil-based, can be flammable or combustible. Restrictions are in place to prevent fires and ensure the safety of postal services and recipients.

Money (Cash)

Sending cash through the mail is not illegal but is strongly discouraged due to the risk of theft. Alternative methods of transferring funds are recommended for security.


Airbags, which contain explosive material to inflate in case of a car crash rapidly, are considered hazardous. They are subject to strict mailing restrictions to prevent accidental deployment.

Medical Waste

Items like used needles or bandages can pose health risks and are prohibited. Specialized disposal services are required to handle such materials safely.

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