Strange Customs Regulations Around The World

As anyone who has traveled internationally will tell you, it is a learning experience like no other. Our planet is the world’s greatest classroom, home to an endless variety of cultures, each with their own unique food, languages, customs and beliefs. However occasionally it is not the local sights that make you stop and wonder, but rather the crazy customs regulations immigration policies — such as these strange customs regulations around the world.

  Countries where antiques, honey, and goatskin are just as illegal as firearms and explosives.

Strange customs regulations in countries around the world
Do not make these guys mad. Trust me here. Firsthand experience. (Another lesson brought to you by DDWDD — Don’t Do What Derek Did)

Strange customs regulations in Nigeria: Water bottles are forbidden to travel with in your luggage

There are some of the most intriguing and strange customs regulations that I’ve found, however I’m also eager to hear of any that you have noticed in your travels. Don’t forget to share your comments at the bottom 🙂

30 Countries With Crazy Customs Regulations:

(In no particular order)

Nigeria   Prohibited items include mineral water, soft drinks, “textile fabrics and mosquito netting.”

Afghanistan   “The import of film cameras is only possible with a licence.”

Barbados & Seychelles   “All bags, clothing, and articles made from camouflage material are expressly forbidden.”

Bhutan   “Antiques” are expressly prohibited alongside with explosives and narcotics. Seems odd.

Punakha Dzong, built in 1638, is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan
“Punakha Dzong, built in 1638, is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan

Oman   Visitors are allowed to bring with them “8 tapes for personal use. However, Customs may confiscate tapes. Tapes will be sent to the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture for verification (takes about 1 week).”

Zimbabwe   Honey is prohibited along with other dangerous items like drugs, firearms, and “flick and lockable blade knives.”

Malaysia   Importation regulations include “max. 3 pieces of new wearing apparel” and “max. 100 matches.” Official policy states that “customs duties of 30% of the value are due in case of exceeding the allowed quantities,” however no one at immigration said anything about my 114 matches…

New Zealand   Visitors are allowed to bring with them musical instruments “provided that the goods are taken from New Zealand upon their departure.”

Iceland Off The Beaten Path HoliDaze Travel Guide
Iceland Off The Beaten Path HoliDaze Travel Guide

Iceland   “Fishing equipment, including waders and rubber boots must be accompanied by a certificate of disinfection issued by an authorized veterinary officer.”

South Korea   The final item on South Korea’s list of prohibited items is: “products originating from communist countries.”

Cuba   Expressly prohibits “Household appliances (freezers with a capacity exceeding seven cubic feet, air conditioners, any type or model of electric accumulators and heating/cooking plates, electric and microwave ovens, any type or size of electric frying pans, electric water heaters and showers, electric irons and toasters).”

Singapore   Since 1992 chewing gum has been banned in Singapore, although in recent years an addendum has been made to allow for an exception on dental hygiene gum.

Saudi Arabia   “Nothing can be imported free of duty as passenger’s baggage, except clothes and strictly personal effects. Customs charges a fee on photographic cameras, typewriters, etc. Customs charges may be refunded if these articles are re-exported within 90 days.”

Borat

Jamaica   Expressly prohibits “all articles made of goatskin (still bearing fur), e.g. drums, handbags and rugs.”

Kazakhstan   Better leave your copy of Borat at home — “printed matter directed against Kazakhstan” is completely prohibited.

Israel   The following items are permitted by visitors only if they’re “for their personal use and provided re-exported: one video camera, one photo camera, one movie camera, one tape recorder and, up to a value of $250 USD. These articles are subject to high deposits which can be paid in cash or by VISA credit card only.” However some item categories are completely forbidden, such as all “fruits and vegetables from the African continent.”

Hungary   Visitors are forbidden from exporting any “children and baby articles, underwear, kitchen articles,” among other less-humorous items.

Kenya   High on the banned list here is “imitation firearms, children’s’ toy pistols, etc,” but this is actually not that surprising if you think about it.

Elephants at Masai Mara 2, Nairobi City, Kenya
Elephants at Masai Mara 2, Nairobi City, Kenya

Fiji   “Pilgrims returning to Fiji with holy water should comply with the following requirements. The water must be: limited to one pint; and – carried in hermetically sealed containers from the country of origin; and – certified by a competent authority to be sterile and free from cholera, typhoid, and paratyphoid germs. The water is impounded for 21 days at Nadi airport if this certificate is not available.” This actually raises more questions than it answers — at least for me.

Iran   “Holding alcoholic beverages and old books or magazines is prohibited.” Guess we all should have seen that one coming…


Indonesia   Visitors may only bring (video) cameras, portable radio cassette recorder, binoculars and sport equipment into the country as long as they are also exported upon their departure. However both “cordless telephones” and “Chinese medicines and printings” are expressly forbidden alongside such obvious items as narcotics and firearms.

Cote d’Ivoire   “For personal use only passengers are allowed to import a video camera. The camera must be declared on arrival and a deposit must be paid, which will be returned to the passenger upon departure. Video cassettes are subject to customs duties.”

Yunnan Nationalities Village in China
Watching a local dance performance at the Yunnan Nationalities Village in China

China   Visitors may freely import all vegetables except for egg plants, red peppers, and tomatoes.

Latvia   All “pieces of art older than 50 years must hold permission from Latvian authorities.” I can understand limiting the exportation of art, but the importation…huh?

Mmmmm...pork and beer ;)

Lithuania   “Electric fishing equipment” is prohibited unless permits have been obtained from the government.

Maldives   “Alcoholic beverages, pork and pork products are restricted items and are only permitted to be imported with a prior obtained permit. Any such items imported without a permit will be confiscated and destroyed.”

Kuwait   Visitors are not allowed to bring with them any “mineral water.”

Mauritius   Prohibited items include “chewing tobacco.”

Angola   Visitors are not allowed to bring with them any postal stamps.

Pakistan   “Warning: import of alcoholic beverages is strictly prohibited for both residents and non-residents regardless of their nationality.” Note: Bold emphasis included on the official site so do not take the warning lightly.

London Heathrow Airport immigration survey
How was your experience today?

Now that you know not to bring any honey into Zimbabwe and definitely not to bring a copy of Borat with you when visiting Kazakhstan, hopefully this helps demonstrate just how….strange….some countries can be with their customs regulations and tourist immigration policies. For even more things you do not know, check out the massive list of weird but true Travel Facts or my collection of TYDNK travel guides:

Things You Do Not Know About     BhutanEstoniaFinlandSri Lanka

  Text in quotations directly from the IATA — International Air Transport Association

  // markusunger

Encountered any strange customs regulations? Maybe traveled with something you shouldn’t of?

What crazy customs/immigration experiences have you had?

Like what you read?
About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

4 thoughts on “Strange Customs Regulations Around The World”

  1. Nice article! Love the range of prohibited items. I’ve also read that it’s difficult to get camping tents into New Zealand.

    Reply
    • Interesting Christy, I didn’t know that….wonder why that would be. Is it so that people going trekking/camping are forced to buy their tents in New Zealand? Or maybe because they can be heavy and bulky? Strange…

      Reply
    • Yes indeed, that was my exact thought too Julia! Seeing the prohibited items really does give you a better idea about the country…but then again sometimes it just flat out makes you scratch your head and say “WTF?!?”

      Reply

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