According to the South African Post Office, when a prohibited item is posted overseas, it delays outgoing mail dramatically.
Prohibited items causes extreme delays
Before the parcels can even begin the journey to their end destination, airlines scan all mailbags in search of any prohibited items. And should a prohibited item be detected, the entire mailbag is returned to the sorting centre. Here, everything is opened until the offending parcel is found.
As a result of this back and forth procedure, all items in the mailbag then miss the flight and deliveries are delayed until the next available flight.
Items that may not be posted to other countries
The following items can be potentially dangerous on an aircraft:
- Liquids, including creams and lotions. Certain explosives are produced in the form of gels or creams.
- Explosives – ammunition, fireworks. These may explode in the hull of an aircraft.
- Compressed gas – aerosols, carbon dioxide gas, cigarette lighters. These may also explode in the hull of an aircraft.
- Flammable liquids: alcohol, thinners, varnish remover, turpentine, petroleum products.
- Flammable solids: Magnesium, matches and zinc powder
- Oxidising material: Bleach, some hair dyes, peroxide, fibreglass repair kits. If these items leak, they could produce lethal and explosive gases.
- Poisons, including drugs and medicine. An import permit is required for all countries.
- Radioactive material (including mercury-filled thermometers)
- Magnetised materials. These items can interfere with the navigation system of the aircraft.
The following goods are also prohibited:
- Bank notes and coins. You need an import and export permit to send these items.
- Jewellery, precious stones or precious metals. An import permit is also needed to these items.
- Any animal, insect or living organism
- Any biological substance
- Firearms or parts thereof
- Fur, ivory or any other animal product
- Human remains, including ashes.
How to ensure your package arrives safely
Since parcels are loaded in bulk into the holds of planes, it is important to make sure that your parcel is in a sturdy package. And if there are some empty spaces in the package, try filling it with packaging material.
Also, state the contents on the parcel and if it is an item sent by one individual to another, be sure to write the word “gift” on the parcel. This facilitates customs clearance in the country of arrival. You can also write the phone number of the receiver on the parcel as this then allows postal administration to contact the receiver regarding their parcel.
For more details: South African Post Office on items you should never post