The Difference Between Restricted and Prohibited Items

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Every day, we get requests from different customers on whether they can ship their items. Before I explain more, let’s jump straight to the point: usually, the question is not “Can I ship the item?” – most items can be shipped. The real question you should be asking is: “What permits/approvals do I need to ship the item?”.

In this article, I will be going through the difference between restricted and prohibited items. Think of it this way – if your item is prohibited, there is no way you can ship it; if your item is restricted, you can ship it… with some extra paperwork.

Restricted and Prohibited Items

Again, here is a quick summary:

Restricted: Licenses, permits, or approvals are required to ship items in.

i.e To ship a laptop to Malaysia, you will need a SIRIM permit.

Prohibited: Completely illegal; do not ship!

i.e E-cigarettes and vapes into Singapore

Chances are unless you’re trying to ship items that are obviously illegal as prohibited items (for example: shipping dangerous toys, bush meat, or illegal substances to the USA), you can ship your item.

However, restricted items require paperwork to get the necessary approvals. Without these approvals, there is a high chance that your item might be seized or sent back.

What do I do if my item is Restricted?

If your item is restricted, you need to get permits or approvals from the relevant authorities. This can vary in many ways. For example, if you’re shipping an electric skateboard that contains over 20kg of Lithium Batteries, you will need a shipper’s declaration for dangerous goods from IATA.

Similarly, you may need a CITES permit if you are shipping a guitar that is made from the wood of an endangered tree.

Understandably, this might be a tiresome process. But Google is truly your best friend, and every country’s various Customs’ Website should have the necessary information. One resource we love to use at JustShip when shipping from Singapore to US is the US Customs’ Website.


Avoid shipping prohibited items. If you’re shipping restricted items, make sure that they comply with the relevant regulations. No one likes paperwork, but no one likes wasting time and money on failed shipments.

February 10, 2021

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