Items Restricted and Prohibited from Shipping to China

Learn about items you can’t ship to China from the USA, including prohibited and restricted goods, to ensure compliance with Chinese customs regulations.

Items Cant Be Shipping To China

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When shipping items from the United States to China, it’s essential to be aware of the various restrictions and prohibitions set by Chinese customs regulations. These rules are designed to protect the country’s safety, public health, economy, and moral standards.

In this article, we will explore the categories of items that are either restricted or entirely prohibited from shipping to China, providing shippers with the knowledge needed to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues.

Prohibited Items from Shipping to China

The list of prohibited items is extensive and includes goods that could pose a risk to public safety, health, or morals, or that could potentially harm the country’s political, economic, or cultural interests.

  • Arms, Ammunition, and Weapons: All forms of weapons, including firearms, ammunition, and explosive devices, are strictly prohibited. This category also extends to non-lethal weapons and replicas.
  • Hermetically Sealed Nontransparent Containers: These items are banned to prevent the smuggling of prohibited goods and substances, as they cannot be easily inspected by customs officials.
  • Chinese Currency: Sending Chinese renminbi (RMB) through the mail from the USA to China is not allowed, to control currency exchange and prevent counterfeiting activities.
  • Valuables: This category encompasses a wide range of items, including coins, banknotes, securities payable to bearer, traveler’s checks, precious metals (gold, silver, platinum), precious stones, jewelry, and other high-value items. These are generally prohibited unless sent through insured parcel post, which provides a way to track and ensure the value of the contents.
  • Potentially Harmful Printed and Electronic Materials: Manuscripts, printed matter, photographic negatives, gramophone records, films, magnetic tapes, and video tapes that could do political, economic, cultural, or moral harm are banned. This includes materials deemed to be politically sensitive or contrary to the values promoted by the Chinese government.
  • Meat and Meat Products: Due to health and safety concerns, including the risk of spreading diseases, meat and its derivatives are not allowed to be mailed to China.
  • Perishable Infectious Biological Substances: The risk of disease transmission makes the shipping of these materials to China prohibited.
  • Radioactive Materials: Given the obvious health risks, radioactive substances are not permitted.
  • Communication Devices: This includes radio receivers, transmitters, walkie-talkies, and their components. The restriction aims to control the import of communication devices that could be used for unauthorized purposes.
  • Used Clothing and Bedding: To prevent health risks associated with used textiles, these items are prohibited.
  • Specific Electronics and Appliances: Wrist-watches, cameras, television sets, radio sets, tape recorders, bicycles, sewing machines, and ventilators are included in the list of prohibited items, mainly to protect the local market and ensure safety standards.

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Restricted Items from Shipping to China

In addition to outright prohibitions, China imposes restrictions on certain goods, allowing them to be imported only under specific conditions or in limited quantities.

  • Personal Articles: Items intended for personal use are allowed but must be imported in reasonable quantities. The value of items in each shipment should not exceed RMB 100 yuan, with a total annual limit of RMB 800 yuan per family.
  • Pocket Electronic Calculators: Limited to one per year, requiring prior approval from customs.
  • Magnetic Tape: Up to 5 blank cassettes are allowed, catering to personal use and not for mass distribution.
  • Cotton or Synthetic Fabric: Shipments can contain up to 10-1/4 yards (10 meters), provided the width does not exceed 50 inches (130 cm). This restriction ensures the fabric is for personal use and not commercial manufacturing.
  • Medicines or Materials Used in Chinese Medicine: Limited to RMB 40 yuan, this allowance facilitates personal health care needs without enabling commercial resale.
  • Philatelic Stamps: Collectors can import up to 100 stamps, promoting cultural exchange without impacting the domestic philatelic market.

Compliance and Best Practices for Shipping to China

Ensuring compliance with these regulations is crucial for individuals and businesses shipping goods from the USA to China. Non-compliance can result in fines, confiscation of goods, or more severe legal consequences. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Research and Verify: Always double-check the latest customs regulations before shipping, as policies can change.
  • Documentation: Ensure all shipments are accompanied by accurate and detailed documentation, including a comprehensive list of contents and their values.
  • Insured Parcel Post: For valuable items allowed under restrictions, use insured parcel post to provide security and traceability.
  • Consult Experts: When in doubt, consult with shipping experts or customs brokers who specialize in US-China shipments. They can offer guidance and ensure that your shipments comply with all regulations.

Final Words

Navigating the complexities of shipping goods from the USA to China requires a thorough understanding of the prohibited and restricted items. By adhering to the guidelines set forth by Chinese customs, shippers can avoid potential pitfalls and ensure that their goods reach their destination without issue. Whether you’re sending personal items, gifts, or commercial goods, staying informed and compliant is key to a successful shipping experience.


Yes, you can ship electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones to China, but they must comply with specific regulations and may be subject to duties and taxes. Ensure you declare these items accurately and check for any additional requirements or restrictions that might apply.

While meat and meat products are outright prohibited, other food items can be shipped to China but are subject to strict regulations, including health and safety standards. It’s essential to ensure that all food products are properly packaged, labeled, and declared. Some food items may require additional permits or certificates.

Keep a detailed record of all shipments sent to China within the calendar year, including the value of each shipment. Plan your shipments accordingly to ensure the total value doesn’t exceed the RMB 800 yuan annual limit per family. When in doubt, consult with customs officials or a professional shipping service.

For shipping medication to China, it’s crucial to have a prescription or a letter from a medical practitioner detailing the medication’s necessity for personal use. The value of the medicines should not exceed the permitted limit, and you should declare the items accurately on customs forms. Always check for any additional documentation that may be required.

While used clothing and bedding are prohibited, the regulations around second-hand electronics like smartphones, laptops, or tablets are less stringent. However, these items may still be subject to inspection and duties.

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