USA: What you can and can't ship

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A image of the White House, Washington
When it comes to shipping items to the USA, there are some regulations and restrictions in place which you will need to consider and abide by in order to ensure the safety, security and compliance with local laws. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the process and highlight items that are not allowed and prohibited when shipping to the USA. 

Abiding by USA customs laws is essential for several reasons:

  • Legal Compliance: USA customs laws are established by the government to regulate the movement of goods across borders. Adhering to these laws ensures that you are shipping your goods to the USA lawfully and prevents you from engaging in any unlawful activities. 
  • Avoiding Penalties and Fines: Violating USA customs laws can result in significant penalties, fines and even legal action. Non-compliance could lead to financial burdens that far outweigh any potential gains from attempting to ship prohibited or restricted items. 
  • Smooth Customs Clearance: Abiding by customs laws ensures a smoother customs clearance process. Accurate and honest declarations on customs forms help prevent delays, inspections and complications that can disrupt your shipments timeline. 
  • Security and Safety: Customs regulations are designed to safeguard national security and public safety. Following these laws helps prevent the movement of illegal goods, dangerous substances and items that could pose a threat to the country or American citizens. 
  • Cultural and Environmental Preservation: Customs laws often regulate the movement of cultural artefacts and protected species to prevent their illegal trade. Respecting these regulations helps preserve cultural heritage and biodiversity. 
  • Legal Consequences: Even if you are unaware of certain USA customs regulations, you can still face legal repercussions for violating them. Taking the time to read up on US customs laws is vital to protect yourself and your interests. 
In short, abiding by US customs laws is vital to ensure legality, security and the smooth shipment of your goods from the UK.

To limit the chances of any nasty surprises, we have put together a list of the items that you can and can't ship to the USA. 

What items can you ship to the USA?

There are a range of items that can be shipped to the USA in your household goods consignment. Some of these include:

Medication and medical equipment 
Prescription medicines and certain medical equipment can be shipped to the USA, however they may require special packaging and documentation. 

Cosmetics and toiletries 
Non-hazardous cosmetics and toiletries are allowed, but liquids must comply with the Transportation Security Administration's regulations. 

Items like laptops and other electronics can be shipped, but they might be subject to import restrictions or taxes. 

Documents and printed materials
Letters, books, magazines, and other printed materials are generally allowed to be shipped to the USA. 

Your furniture items, home decor, appliances and other household items can be shipped to the US for personal reasons. 

Paintings, sculptures and decorative items can be shipped, although they may require special handling.

You can ship your pet to the USA, however there are several important considerations and requirements that you will need to take into consideration. To find out more information, visit our pet shipping page to see how our service can help. 

Other items that are typically allowed consist of:


Toys and games 

Sports equipment 

Crafts and hobby equipment/supplies

Educational materials 

Music and media 

Pet supplies 

Baby items 

Fashion accessories 

Beauty products

It is important to remember that although these items are generally permitted for shipping to the USA, potential import taxes or duties may still apply. Some items also have specific regulations or restrictions depending on their nature and intended use. It is always a good idea to check the guidelines with your Move Manager to ensure a smooth shipping process. 

What items can you not ship to the USA?

There are various items that are prohibited and restricted from being imported into the USA in order to protect the safety, security and health of the people and the country's environment. 

Here are some common items that you generally cannot ship into the USA:

Illegal substances
Such as illegal drugs, narcotics and controlled substances 

Hazardous materials 
Such as explosives, fireworks, flammable liquids, gases and toxic substances 

Weapons and firearms 
Such as firearms, ammunition and certain weapon accessories. 

Counterfeit goods
Such as counterfeit goods, fake currency, and items infringing intellectual property rights. 

Certain agricultural items
Such as plants, seeds, fruits and vegetables without proper permits or phytosanitary certificates. 

Obscene or immoral materials 
Materials that are obscene, offensive or immoral. 

Certain medical products
Such as unapproved medical devices, medications or supplements. 

Radioactive materials 
Items containing radioactive substances. 

Animal products 
Such as animal fur without proper permits 

It is important to note the customs regulations can change, meaning there may be additional items not mentioned in the list above that are prohibited or restricted from being shipped to the USA. We recommend you always check the regulations with your international Move Manager, to get the most up-to-date and accurate information before shipping your goods. You can also visit  the US FIDI Guide online if you are unsure your shipment will comply with regulations. 

By hiring Pickfords as your international mover, you will have all the support you need to ship your household effects to the USA. In 2022, we were announced the winners by the Forum of Expatriate Management for the 'International Moving Company of the Year', having also won the award in 2013, 2018 and 2019. Our great achievements highlight our unbeatable experience and the professional service we provide our customers who are shipping their goods to the US. 

If you are ready to ship your belongings to the USA, contact us today and get a quote