Guide to Global Shipping Restrictions for Popular Subscription Box Products

20 December, 2017

When it comes to shipping overseas, reducing the risk of delays or holds is crucial to monthly subscription box companies and their customers. Packages can be held at customs and even returned to shipment origin at the expense of the seller if documentation is not properly executed. Specific products that are curated for monthly subscription boxes are included on global shipping restriction lists for various countries. Understanding global shipping restrictions is one way of cutting down on the possibility for a shipping setback.

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are those that can pose a risk to people, animals, or the environment if not handled properly while in use or during transport. Everyday consumer products are seemingly harmless but can be regulated under transport rules due to their ingredients. Materials that are commonly classified as hazardous include perfume, alcohol, aerosols, nail polish, and batteries.


Aerosols, such as hair sprays and deodorants are classified as hazardous since they are made of compressed gas and include flammable ingredients like alcohol. When compressed gas exceeds 52 degrees celsius, there is potential for explosion.


Alcohol is not only a flammable substance, it is also subject to licensing laws. Shipping companies that allow alcohol to be shipped are considered approved alcohol shippers and have proper licensing. Some countries strictly prohibit the import of alcohol. Before shipping alcohol abroad, verify that the receiving country will accept such shipments: reference the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s International Import and Export Requirements.


Batteries that contain liquid, such as lithium-ion batteries, are made of acid that is highly corrosive and can cause fires. Keep in mind that when shipping internationally, only lithium batteries that are properly installed in the product they are meant to operate can be sent.

Nail Polish

Nail polish is made up of flammable ingredients. The retailer is responsible for identifying the nail polish’s flashpoint and toxicity prior to shipment. In some cases, nail polishes cannot be shipped internationally and may only be sent via ground transportation.


Most perfumes contain alcohol and therefore may not be shipped internationally or domestically using air transportation. Perfume containing alcohol may be shipped domestically using ground transportation only. Fortunately, alcohol-free perfumes are safe for international shipping.

Although these items are labeled as hazardous materials, they can still be shipped overseas (pending individual country restrictions), but specific packaging and labeling is required to ensure the safety of those involved with transporting the shipment.

Perishable Products

Information regarding the transportation of perishable products is vital to the growing number of subscription box companies shipping food. Shipping food both domestically and internationally requires the products to have a shelf life greater than six months from ship date. The items must list all ingredients and the food must be sealed, untampered with, and in original packaging. Different countries have restrictions on individual food products and it is important to check with the destination country's import restrictions. For example, honey cannot be shipped to South Africa, coffee is banned for import into Jamaica, and foods containing any amount of saccharine cannot be shipped to Spain.


Non-hazardous liquids, creams, and pastes are given shipping guidelines to ensure no loss of product during travel. Containers with friction or top closure must use additional packaging to seal its contents before traveling. Liquids that have screw top caps must have a minimum of one and one-half turner with soldering clips to ensure proper closure of the product. These packaging standards are important to subscription-based companies, primarily in the beauty industry when products are being dispersed for sampling. Glass and breakable containers with more than four fluid ounces must be cushioned within a sealed waterproof container to prevent leaking or damage to the outside of the parcel. Any products over 32 fluid ounces are also required to be placed within a sealed outer package and should be cushioned.

Global Shipping Assistance

Asendia can unlock your shipping potential to over 220 countries and territories worldwide. Our knowledge and expertise of the mailing and parcel shipping industries, along with cross border e-Commerce solutions, can help any subscription box business grow exponentially in the global marketplace. Subscription box companies looking for parcel tracking, cost-effective shipping options, and reliable service can request a quote through Asendia USA.