UPS, FedEx, DHL, & More

UPS Shipping Restrictions and Prohibited Items

Michelle Mondonedo

by Michelle Mondonedo

On 2019 M06 22

by Michelle Mondonedo

UPS is a reliable courier company to use if you’re looking to send your items cross-border. However, it’s important to be familiar with their conditions for carriage, specifically their restricted and prohibited items.

By being mindful of UPS mailing restrictions, you can ensure that your account remains in good standing and most importantly, that your packages are able to be shipped to their final destination.

UPS Shipping Restrictions


If an item is restricted, it maybe able to still be shipped – but you must have a contract with regular volume and be able to adhere to all regulations before UPS decides to accept it.

UPS Restricted Items


Here is UPS’ list of restricted items, regardless of the destination you are shipping to:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Non-domesticated animal products, non-domesticated
  • Articles of high/unusual value
  • Biological substances, Category B and exempt human or animal specimens
  • Dangerous goods
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Firearms and weapons (including inert and replica explosive weapons)
  • Furs
  • Gold or other precious metals
  • Live animals
  • Perishables
  • Personal effects
  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Tobacco

For additional details and the most up-to-date list, visit UPS’ List of Prohibited Articles for Shipping.

UPS International Restricted Items


As every country has their own import laws and agreements, certain UPS international shipping restrictions may apply.

UPS’ Country or Territory Regulations tool helps you discover specific restrictions you may encounter when shipping cross-border.

Enter in the origin country and destination country in the dropdown menus. Under “Country or Territory Regulation Topics”, select “Prohibited or Restricted Commodities”. You should then see a list of items and special instructions that apply.

UPS Shipping Size Restrictions


UPS package size restrictions for individual packages to most destinations are as follows:

  • Maximum weight per parcel is 150 lbs (70 kg).
  • Maximum length per parcel is 107.9 inches (274 cm).
  • Maximum dimensions per parcel is 165 inches (419 cm) - length and girth combined

Shipments that exceed these size restrictions would have to be shipped by either the UPS Freight or UPS Worldwide Express Freight service.

UPS Ground Shipping Restrictions


In terms of UPS mailing restrictions, they do have the right to refuse ground service to any shipment with the following characteristics:

  • Contents of the package are considered dangerous
  • Contents could possibly damage other merchandise or equipment
  • The package is economically or operationally impractical for transport
  • The package is not packaged or wrapped properly

High value items

UPS will not ship items that are valued at over US$50,000. Jewelry has a lower limit, at US$500.

Should your high value item get lost or damaged in UPS’ service, they will only assume a maximum liability of US$100. It is recommended to buy additional shipment insurance for items valued over US$100 to ensure coverage.  

No illegal items

If an item is prohibited for import by law to a state, region, or country, UPS will not accept your shipment.

Other size and weight restrictions

Should your package exceed the UPS shipping size restrictions, it can be denied for shipment using UPS Ground. Additionally, if you are shipping hazardous materials, it cannot weigh more than 70 pounds.

Perishable items

UPS doesn’t provide any special services that protect perishable shipments against heat or cold, so ship these items at your own risk.

UPS Prohibited Items


If an item is prohibited, it means it is strictly not allowed to be shipped by UPS. Service will automatically be declined if your shipment’s contents are prohibited. If you weren’t honest about the contents of your shipment and UPS finds out, they can either suspend or close your account.

The following items are currently prohibited for shipments through UPS:

  • Ammunition (except as expressly provided in the "UPS Tariff/Terms and Conditions of Service - United States")
  • Bank bills, notes or currency (other than coins)
  • Fireworks
  • Hazardous waste
  • Industrial diamonds
  • Ivory
  • Marijuana, including marijuana intended for medicinal use
  • Postage stamps
  • Shark fins
  • Shipments prohibited by law
  • Watches exceeding the value of US$500

For additional details and the most up-to-date list, visit UPS’ List of Prohibited Articles for Shipping.

UPS Prohibited Items – International


As every country has their own import laws and agreements, certain items may be prohibited for international shipping with UPS.

UPS’ Country or Territory Regulations tool helps you discover prohibited items that are not allowed to be shipped to specific countries.

It’s also important to note that currently, UPS is not allowed to ship products made in Iran due to a current embargo.

Prevent UPS Shipping Issues – Understand UPS Shipping Restrictions


Hopefully your eCommerce inventory isn’t on the UPS prohibited items list! But if they are on the restricted list, be sure to speak to your account manager about getting permission to ship such items.

Also, it’s never wise to be untruthful about your shipment contents on your UPS label and paperwork. Doing so puts your account at risk for suspension or closure.

By paying attention and following UPS’ restrictions, you can ensure your shipment will be allowed to ship and ultimately be delivered to your customer.