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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Hello Kitty guide to UK postal regulations

I was reading an article about the age-old chicken and egg problem which the author sought to solve by posting them and seeing which one turned up first. I was quite intrigued to note that it was perfectly legal to post live chickens in the US. So I began to wonder, just what one could mail in the UK. And it turns out that I've broken those regulations quite a few times without even trying. So what aren't you allowed to post? Take it away Hello Kitty...

No aerosols except inhalers less than 50ml.

Fair enough, but I've bought paint and mounting spray from ebay. Oops.

No alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of 70% or more.

So I can't buy decent absinthe online?  I broke this rule by sending a Christmas present to a gothy friend.

Not only was this a real product, it
wasn't even uncommon

Asbestos can be carried but only when fixed in a resin, plastic or glass matrix.

I'm pretty sure I haven't posted any asbestos on purpose. Damn.

I'll bet I could find Hello Kitty
absinthe and asbestos if I tried too.
Inflated balloons can only be posted if they contain non-flammable gas and this must be marked on the outside of the packaging for them to travel by air.

I'm slightly annoyed that I haven't breached this regulation, especially as they've no way of telling the difference between flammable and non-flammable gases until that becomes evident in an explodey manner.

Batteries can only be sent in their original packaging and lithium batteries can only be sent it they're rated at less than 100 watts per hour. Car batteries are prohibited.

Oops, broke that one several times without even realising just buying up battery packs for my many Tapwave Zodiacs.

I own this lighter. It's windproof and it
makes a continual meowing noise when
you open it. It will also survive a surprising
number of blows from a hammer.
No filled butane lighters or refills.

My addiction to shoddy Chinese knockoff Hello Kitty lighters ensures that this little postal regulation is going to get busted more times than an appropriate analogy.

Christmas crackers can only be sent in their complete made-up form and in their original retail packaging.

Really? Good grief. My father always used to make his own Christmas crackers and got me into doing it too.

Yup, I own these too (thank you, Ally)
No clinical and medical waste. For example used dressings, bandages, needles, cotton wool.

I haven't posted used bandages... yet.

No Counterfeit currency and stamps. Restricted to examples of currency no longer in circulation or pre decimalisation postage stamps that are of value only as collectors' items.


What? Everyone's got a jar of
Hello Kitty hyaluronic acid
No corrosive substances. Substances which can cause severe damage to living tissue, other freight or transport by its chemical action are prohibited. E.g. aluminium chloride, caustic soda, corrosive cleaning fluid, corrosive rust remover/preventative, corrosive paint remover, electric storage batteries; hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and sulphuric acid.

Pfft. Challenge accepted.

I didn't even have to fake this picture
No prescription drugs except in an emergency where they can't be sourced locally.

What kind of emergency? The kind where you've got time to wait for the postman?

Yeah, so the Hello Kitty cocaine might
not exactly be licensed by Sanrio,
but y'know...
Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as defined by the International Narcotics Control, and drugs which are banned in the country of destination, are not permitted for either import or export.

I imagine that people involved in transporting quantities of illegal drugs are very concerned about abiding by postal statutes.

Dry ice is prohibited.

I can't believe I've actually broken this one. Or that the Post Office accepted and delivered a heavily-insulated package that proclaimed that it contained nothing but dry ice.

Environmental waste E.g. used engine oil or batteries.

So you can't return your Hello Kitty engine oil if it has been used. That little quip would work better if it weren't for this list being in alphabetical order.

Any chemical compound, mixture or device capable of producing an explosive or pyrotechnic effect with substantial instantaneous release of heat and gas is prohibited. E.g. ammunition, blasting caps, fireworks, flares, fuses, igniters and nitroglycerine. Items that appear to be prohibited explosive ordnance are prohibited.

Damn, that's a comprehensive list.

There were so many images I could
have used for this. So many, many
images. Never ever do a search
for "Hello Kitty filth"

Filth E.g. dirt, waste or refuse.

No comment.

Yup this is a genuine Hello Kitty
product. Hello Kitty motor oil
Flammable liquids This includes mixtures of liquids or liquids containing solids in solution or suspension which give off a flammable vapour. Any liquid with a closed cup flash point below 60.5° C is prohibited. E.g. acetone, benzene, cleaning compounds, gasoline, lighter fuel, paint thinners and removers, petroleum and solvents.

See? Damn you alphabetical order.

Pretty much everything's
flammable if you try hard
Flammable solids. Solid materials which are liable to cause fire by friction, absorption of water, spontaneous chemical changes or retained heat from manufacturing or processing, or which can be readily ignited and burn vigorously. E.g. adhesives, calcium carbide, cellulose nitrate products, matches, metallic magnesium, nitro-cellulose based film, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, sodium hydride, zinc powder, zirconium hydride etc.

Calcium carbide's a flammable liquid? This shit's educational.

Don't worry, it's just a
portable speaker... shaped
like a gas cannister
with a Hello Kitty theme.
Okay, so maybe you
should worry
Gases that are compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure, permanent gases which cannot be liquefied at ambient temperatures, liquefied gases which become liquid under pressure at ambient temperatures, dissolved gases which are dissolved under pressure in a solvent.

Tch, pussies...

Indecent, obscene or offensive material E.g. pornographic material.

All that "plain, brown wrapper" stuff is bullshit? Damn

No Living creatures except certain insects. You must use boxes that protect both the creatures and Royal Mail staff from harm. Use First Class as the minimum service and clearly label the package as "URGENT - LIVING CREATURES".

Okay, so that's chickens ruled out. What about eggs?

How could you even think there wouldn't
be Hello Kitty lottery tickets? 
Lottery tickets. Except UK lottery tickets.

Uh... so lottery tickets are bad, except for certain lottery tickets? Maybe there's a special ink in British lottery tickets that renders them inert?

Nail varnish Some nail varnish may be sent via our Royal Mail Tracked service – restrictions apply.

And yet ten zillion bottles of nail varnish are available on ebay. What?

Magnetised materials except those that are prohibited, should be wrapped in soft packaging at least 20mm thick. Prohibited magnetic materials are those with a field strength of over 0.159A/m or more at a distance of 2.1m from the outside of the package.

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to measure the strength of magnetic fields, but I'm guessing/hoping that I would if I needed to.

Oxidising substances and organic peroxide  These are substances such as disinfectants that may cause or contribute to combustion of other substances. They may also be liable to explosive decomposition, react dangerously with other substances and injure health. For example: bromides, chlorates, components of fibreglass repair kits, disinfectants, nitrates, perchlorates, permanganates and peroxides.

Fibre glass repair kits can cause explosive decomposition? Man, I have to experiment.

Perfumes and aftershaves Any perfumes or aftershaves that are non-flammable are permitted.

Hmm, I'd better test out all that Elizabeth Arden Green Tea eau de parfum I've been buying.

Perishable items Fresh fruit, meat, fish and other perishable articles should be able to withstand a journey of up to 48 hours and must be sent preferably by Special Delivery™ or by First Class as the minimum service. Packages must be clearly labelled ‘PERISHABLE’.

My mother broke this one sending me smoked salmon. Ha ha.

Pesticides: any chemical that is used to kill pests and insects. 

Except water and hammers.

Radioactive materials  Radioactive materials and samples that are classified as radioactive using Table 2-12 of the latest edition of the International Civil Aviation Organisations' (ICAO) Technical Instructions. For example: fissile material, (uranium 235, etc), radioactive waste material, thorium or uranium ores, etc.

I'm pretty sure that postal regulations are the least concern of people posting nuclear devices.

Sharp objects Sharp objects like knives, kitchen utensils and gardening tools may only be posted if they are packaged appropriately so that they are no risk to employees, other postal items or recipients.

Spoilsports. I love sending badly-wrapped kitchen knives. It's a little game I like called Postman's Fingers Roulette.

Solvent-based paints and inks. These are varnishes (including nail varnish), enamels and similar substances. However, some nail varnish is allowed via our Royal Mail Tracked service – restrictions apply.

For goodness sakes. Paint?

UN2814 or UN2900 Infectious substances (Catergory A)  Category A infectious substances are prohibited e.g. Ebola, Anthrax, Foot and Mouth Disease.

Ah, it's good to know that the guy who posted that anthrax would be in trouble for putting it in a postbox.

Weapons and ammunition. Sporting firearms and most ammunition can be admitted into the United Kingdom conditionally as imported goods.

The fuck? I can't send batteries, but I can post bullets? Okay...

Well there we go. Thanks to Hello Kitty we all know what we can and can't shove in one of those delightful red post boxes that we're famous for.

Oh and according to the chicken-and-egg-posting guy, the chicken showed up first.

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