Banned Abroad: 15 Things That Are Illegal to Bring Overseas

If you’re returning to the United States from a trip abroad, make sure you leave the ivory trinkets, absinthe, Kinder Eggs, and other items that are banned in America behind. But if you’re traveling internationally, you also need to pay attention to what you pack before you leave. It’s not too surprising you can’t bring your handgun or illegal drugs when traveling internationally. But some innocuous, everyday items you might carry with you are actually banned abroad. To avoid an unpleasant scene when you land, leave the following items at home if you’re traveling to certain countries.

1. Baby walkers

a chid uses a baby walker while a woman watches

A child uses a baby walker. | Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re traveling to Canada, don’t bother to pack your baby walker. These devices help babies who haven’t quite mastered walking around. But Canada has banned them since 2004 for safety reasons. Babies using walkers can fall, tip over, or crash into objects, according to experts. And though the devices are still legal in the U.S., pediatricians advise parents not to use them.

2. Poppy seeds

poppy seeds in a wooden spoon on a wood table

Poppy seeds |

Don’t stash a poppy seed bagel in your carry-on bag if you’re traveling to Singapore, as well as the United Arab Emirates. The seeds, which come from the plant used to make opium, are illegal in those countries. In 2015, an Indian woman was prosecuted in Dubai for importing poppy seeds she planned to use in her home kitchen. You’re also not allowed to bring poppy seeds and poppy seed flour into Mexico.

3. Pepper spray

pepper spray

Pepper spray | Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images

Fourteen percent of Americans say they carry mace or pepper spray to protect themselves from crime, according to a Gallup poll. Some might also want to bring it with them to stay safe on a trip abroad. But pepper sprays are banned in many counties, including the United Kingdom.

4. Chewing gum

gum for sale

Packages of chewing gum for sale | Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Singapore has a longstanding ban on chewing gum, and bringing packs of Wrigley’s Doublemint or Big Red into the country is a no-no. The only exception is for versions that have medicinal purposes, such as nicotine gum or dental gum. Pharmacists and dentists are allowed to sell gum in Singapore if you really need your fix.

5. Pit bulls

pit bulls at animal shelter

Pit bulls wait at an animal shelter in San Bernardino, California. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Bring your pet pit bull along with you on your trip to New Zealand, and you might find yourself turning around at the border. The country is one of several that ban the breed. American pit bull terriers are also not permitted in Australia, France, and Denmark, and some other countries. Bans sometimes extend to other dog breeds considered dangerous, such as the Japanese Tosa or the American bulldog. If you hope to travel with your pet, make sure you understand your destination’s restrictions before you leave.

6. Fashion magazines

elle magazine

Elle magazine | Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Many travelers are aware bringing liquor or pornographic materials into ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia is verboten, but they might not realize how far the ban on items “incompatible with religion and Islamic faith” goes. Fashion magazines, such as Vogue or Cosmopolitan, might be confiscated if the customs officer believes they contain risqué images, warns the U.S. State Department. Christmas decorations, anything related to gambling (such as dice or poker chips), and even binoculars might also be confiscated, according to Blue Abaya.

7. Occult books


Books on a shelf |

Jamaica bans certain occult books, specifically those published by the de Laurence Scott and Company of Chicago that relate “to divination, magic, cultism or supernatural arts.” De Laurence sold books on Obeah and other spiritual or occult topics in the early 20th century. Although the publishing company no longer exists, the books are still illegal in Jamaica, as is the practice of Obeah itself. The country of St. Lucia also bans “all publications, articles, or other matter associated with black magic, secret magic obeah, witchcraft, or other magical arts and occultism.”

8. Garbage Pail Kids cards

Garbage Pail Kids

Garbage Pail Kids | Garbage Pail Kids via Facebook

Anyone who was kid in the ’80s probably remembers Garbage Pail Kids, a series of trading cards featuring gross-out images of weird or deformed characters. The cards, which spoofed the then-popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, were pretty controversial at the time, and some schools banned them. At least one country did, too. In Mexico, it’s still against the law to bring your collection of Garbage Pail Kids cards into the country.

9. Over-the-counter medications

white pills spread out on a table

Some over-the-counter medications are illegal in other countries. |

You might have to suffer through a stuffy nose on your next trip to Japan. Over-the-counter medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed and Vicks inhalers, are banned in the country. OTC medicines with codeine, which are sold in Canada and some European countries, are also illegal. You might also run into trouble with your bag full of medicine if you’re visiting the United Arab Emirates, which has a strict anti-drug policy. You’ll need a doctor’s note and other documentation if you want to bring prescription and certain non-prescription medication into the country. Possessing even small amounts of illegal drugs could lead to jail time, noted Emirates Air.

10. Conch shells

conch shell blowing

People blow into conch shells in Key West, Florida. | Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via Getty Images

A conch shell might seem like a lovely souvenir of your island vacation, but you might not be able to bring it home if you live in Switzerland. Conches are one of a number of souvenirs banned in the land-locked country. Many countries also have laws that prohibit the collection of shells from beaches, so think twice before you tuck that sandy souvenir in your suitcase.

11. Camouflage clothing

camouflage pattern

Wearing camouflage clothing is banned in many Caribbean countries. |

Leave your camo-print bikini at home if you’re traveling to Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica, and certain other Caribbean countries. Camouflage clothing is banned because of concerns about people trying to imitate police or military. The laws are strictly enforced, and if you show up wearing your camo pants or shirt, you might be asked to change.

12. GPS devices

using a gps

A person uses a GPS. | Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

Traveling to Cuba has gotten a lot easier for Americans in recent years, but those heading there for a trip shouldn’t expect to rely on a GPS device to help them get around. They’re banned in Cuba. Although the GPS function in your phone won’t be a problem, you’ll need special permission if you want to bring a stand-alone GPS into the country. Travelers who’ve tried to bring the devices into the country have had them confiscated.

13. Japanese shaving brushes

close up of man shaving

A man shaves. |

Guys, don’t try to bring your Japanese shaving brush with you on your getaway to St. Lucia. Any shaving brush made in or exported from Japan is against the law on the Caribbean island. The ban likely goes back to the first decades of the 20th century, when some Japanese shaving brushes made with horsehair bristles were found to be infected with Anthrax spores.

14. Sex toys

cloudy day in Maldives

A sunset in the Maldives, where you can’t bring sex toys. |

Those planning a romantic getaway to the Maldives should leave their sex toys in their bedside drawer. Vibrators and similar items are against the law in the picturesque island country, along with all pornographic materials. The country also prohibits idols for worship and religious materials offensive to Islam, the country’s official religion.

15. Cigarettes

camel cigarettes

Packs of Camel cigarettes | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nicotine addicts traveling to Sri Lanka, beware. Bringing cigarettes into the South Asian country is illegal. It’s not the only country with strict tobacco laws. Bhutan bans the sale of cigarettes entirely, and only small numbers are allowed into the country for personal use. Singapore not only has laws against smoking in many public and communal spaces, but it also has steep fines for littering, including tossing out your cigarette butts. It fined one man nearly $20,000 after tossing his butts out his apartment window.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

More Articles About:   ,