What Happens If You Send Any Items That Are Forbidden?

Many countries have different laws about forbidden or restricted items that cannot be sent to the country.

What Happens If You Send Any Items That Are Forbidden?

Some obvious forbidden items are drugs or explosives. But some items that are prohibited from being sent abroad may not be as obvious.

If you are unsure about which items you can and cannot send then it is always best to double-check the prohibited items list.

If you do decide to send forbidden items abroad, don’t expect to do so without suffering the consequences.

Obviously, if you are intentionally going against the rules and regulations, there will be repercussions.

And though couriers aren’t opening each and every parcel that comes through their door, they do have expierence and training in finding prohibited items, and if it isn’t picked up at this point, then it most probably will be at customs. 

The repercussions of sending forbidden items internationally can vary in severity depending on the item.

The item may simply just be confiscated, but there is also a good chance that the local authorities will be notified of serious offenses and this could lead to further punishments. 

In this article, we’ll go over the courier process, how prohibited items are identified, and the repercussions of sending forbidden items. 

Can A USP or DHL Courier Driver Collect A Parcel That Includes A Forbidden Item?

If you live within the European Union and are shipping within it, then your courier driver probably won’t open and check the contents of your parcel. Yet.

Drivers are very busy and it would take a disproportionate amount of time to spot-check every parcel they receive.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that the package isn’t going to get checked at any point.

And the responsibility is in the hands of the sender, not the courier. So the courier won’t receive any disciplinary for the parcels that they accept. 

If you are shipping your items globally, then most couriers will check parcels when they collect them which is why you shouldn’t close up your parcels until they’ve done so. 

All packages will also go through customs and scanners, so they will all be checked before they are actually sent out. 

Again, you can always check the prohibited items list before you send any items. 

How Can A Courier Discover A Prohibited Item? 

How Can A Courier Discover A Prohibited Item? 

Obviously, couriers have procedures in place to discover prohibited items – otherwise, there would be no point in banning them.

Some people think that they can smuggle items past, and I suppose from time to time this does happen.

However, there are many actions put into place to prevent this from happening. 


Globally shipped items very, very rarely avoid being double-checked at customs.

Many packages have manual-check ups and pretty much every item will also go through an X-ray machine.

So slipping by undetected is not something that is likely to happen successfully. 

If the parcel is sent from EU to EU then the likelihood of the parcel being checked at customs does diminish considerably.

However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t still be checked. Authorities often partake in sporadic package checks within a specific number of shipments.

So there’s no real way of knowing if prohibited goods will undergo clearance or not. 

Suspicious Parcel Inspections

Though couriers are not allowed to just rifle through all of our belongings, they do have the right to open packages under certain conditions. These conditions are as follows: 

  • Damaged Or Inappropriately Packaged – In most cases, you’ll tend to find that the real battered or damaged packages contain something restricted within them. So couriers are within their rights to check any package that is damaged or packed inappropriately. 
  • Leaking Or Smelly Packages – If a package is leaking, especially a leak with a rather pungent odor, then the courier has the right to inspect it. Often this can be a good indicator of a perishable item that has taken a turn for the worst. 
  • Suspicious Shape – If your package looks like a suspicious item, prohibited or restricted, then there is a good chance that your courier will open the package to check. 

Missing Shipment

When a package is reported missing, you will be asked to describe the item as best as possible so that they can help you get it back as soon as possible.

It is likely that once the parcel is found, it will be opened and checked to ensure that it meets the description of the item that you gave them. 

Repercussions Of Being Caught Sending Restricted Items

So, if you do get caught sending forbidden items, what is likely to happen? Well, there is no perfect answer.

It can vary from courier to courier, and it may also depend on the item that is found within your package. 

One thing for certain is that there is likely to be some form of repercussion. Below we’ll look at some of the things that might happen. 

  • Your Items Are Removed – If it is more of a ‘non-offender’ item that is thrown in amongst a bunch of non-restricted items. Then the courier may just remove the item and then continue with the delivery process. The item may get sent back to the sender. It may not. 
  • Your Items Are Confiscated – In many cases where you are sending just prohibited items, the package will be confiscated and destroyed. 
  • The Courier Will Return The Parcel To The Sender – In some cases, the package will not continue in the delivery process and instead will be sent back to the sender. 
  • The Sender Must Book Another Service – If it is a case of your items not being suitable for a standard delivery service, the sender will be required to arrange the appropriate transport for the items with another service provider. 
  • Extra Charges – If a package containing prohibited items damages other items during transportation, the sender may be sent the bill to cover the costs.
  • The Courier Will Report The Sender To The Authorities – If a package is found with dangerous prohibited items, such as drugs, firearms, or explosives the package will obviously not be sent. The courier will then report you to the police who can escalate the issue further.

Final Thoughts

You should never be intending to purposefully send out prohibited packages, and there is a high likelihood that the prohibited items will be discovered.

From there you could have these goods confiscated and the incident may even be reported to the police. 

There shouldn’t really be any excuse for accidentally sending prohibited items either since there are clear prohibited item lists where you can check all restrictions.

If you are still unclear speak to your courier to ensure that you are following all rules and regulations. 

You should always make sure that you are certain about what you are sending and make sure that it is legal to do so.

In best case scenario, you’re going to have your goods taken away from you and lose out on money.

Worst case, you are reported to the police and potentially face a criminal record.

Andy Domar
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