Four bizarre customs laws from around the world

Most countries have a list of items that are banned from import. These contain the usual suspects, such as firearms, illegal drugs, poisonous or radioactive materials, and alcohol in some dry countries; however, some countries have unusual customs laws that you may not hear about until you fall foul of them.

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Whether you are sending a parcel to a family member or trying to take something forbidden through customs, some laws are not anticipated. Only by checking with each country can you be sure of the restrictions they place on imports. Here we look at some quirky customs from around the world.

Plastic flowers and wheelbarrows in Nigeria

Couriers in Bracknell need to know what is prohibited in Nigeria; for example, if they intend to transport either plastic flowers or wheelbarrows, they may be turned away. There is a good reason for such strange laws – to boost the local economy, the import of cheap items has been restricted in favour of encouraging people to buy locally.

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A Kinder Surprise in the US

The much-loved chocolate egg treat has been banned in the US since 1938, when inedible toys were banned if they were inside sweets. The risk is not worth the potential fine. A new egg has been designed whereby the toy is visible between the egg halves, enabling US citizens to enjoy a version of this treat.

Matching shoes in Mexico

To boost local manufacturing, Mexico has banned the import of matching shoes. Banning the import of shoes is also practised in India and South Africa in a bid to increase the manufacturing output. Couriers such as should consider this before facilitating the export of locally-made shoes to Mexico. It should be fine if there are just a few pairs, as the restriction applies to large consignments.

Dental products in Algeria

This custom seems very strange, as oral hygiene is such an important part of our health. We take it for granted that our toothpaste is suitable for use everywhere; however, you cannot use toothpaste that contains fluoride in Algeria. As this is an ingredient in almost every toothpaste available in the UK and Europe, it is best not to send or take any toothpaste there. Toothpaste is joined by dentures and retainers on Algeria’s list of banned items.