What Can You Mail to Italy?

I make no secret of my hate-hate relationship with the Italian post office.

With Christmas coming up, I’ve been getting requests from my friends and family for my new Italian address.  I always give it to them with a little note- “Don’t worry about mailing me anything! It is incredibly difficult to send and receive packages in Italy.”

I don’t think I’m being over-dramatic. The list of things that you cannot mail is quite impressive.  For a good laugh, you can check out the entire list of items you are prohibited from sending to Italy here.

My favorites include:

  • No live bees
  • No hats
  • No photo albums
  • No toys (unless they are made entirely of wood)
  • No shoes
  • No playing cards
  • No typewriter ribbons

That means my friend Andy broke several rules to mail me a package with chocolate AND a toy car:

How this made it through customs will always remain a mystery.

And let’s not forget, you (the Italian recipient) have to pay taxes on any package that has a value of over 40 Euro.  Even though the sender paid to mail it, you have to pay again to pick it up.

So thank you for the thought, but please hold the mail.

19 Comments

  • Reply neekoh December 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Oops, I have a package on its way to you. Luckily, none of these “black list” items are contained inside. Phew!

    XXo,
    Neekoh

    • Reply La americana December 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

      Neek neek! Love love <3

  • Reply Sara December 7, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Seriously! I know its really crazy isn’t it! But……here’s a little trick I’ve learned after many years and several lost or incredibly expensive packages; Tell the sender to declare on the customs form that the package is for ‘Personal use’ and is of ‘NON commercial value’ I was amazed at how quickly my package arrived and that I didn’t have to pay un centessimo! True story, my mother sends me packages this way all the time now. Oh they really are so funny aren’t they these Italians?

    • Reply La americana December 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

      What an amazing tip! Thank you!!

  • Reply Mice Aliling December 7, 2010 at 5:57 am

    That happens in the Philippienes, too.

  • Reply Noelle December 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Ugh. I hate the postal system here. My US priority international mail from my office takes 6 weeks to get here from CA. And, the USPS guarantees receipt to 180 countries within 6 days…..BUT NOT ITALY. Sometimes I feel like I am living in Siberia when these basic services are so unreliable.

    But, don’t fear the list of banned items. We have received a ton of toys, photo albums and hats and they have never stopped it. Why? Because they would have to actually do their job and open the package. Not likely to happen….

    • Reply Ruth June 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      If you are in the military service, just ask your family or friends to send it priority mail flat. Obviously if you are in the military service your APO address and don’t pay anything back there. Is what I do for my girls, son in laws and grandkids.

      • Reply Natalie June 9, 2017 at 7:30 am

        I wish I had one of those addresses!

  • Reply Celia prosecchino December 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I have been waiting for three weeks for a registered letter with my insurance documents! luckily the original turned up after about a month.

  • Reply Mike Mazzaschi December 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    My favorite true story about Christmas mailings goes from Italy to the US. When he was a student in Boston, my Bologna friend Lucio’s mother sent her son a new pair of pants. On the customs form she entered, ‘Calzoni’. The customs officers did what they are paid to do. He got the package after a couple of extra days with an official note say it had been opened for inspection (not mentioning the possible lunch).

    • Reply La americana December 15, 2010 at 6:51 am

      bahahaaha! That is AWESOME.

  • Reply No stamps, this is the post office « May 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

    […] What Can You Mail to Italy? and Post Offices in Italy by Natalie. She’s lovely. And she has the English title of my blog. […]

  • Reply Annalisa September 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Hi,
    I am Italian from Bologna. I have been in California for now over 20 years but I still have family in Bologna.
    See that you live in Italy now and are probably more up to date than I am with custom procedures, I have a question :

    Can I send a pound of Starbucks Coffee to Italy…Bologna to be specific. Any information/reccomandation is appreciated.

    Oh by the way I LOVE ROMA!

    • Reply Laura September 22, 2013 at 8:10 am

      Annalisa, I see that it’s been a year since your question, but I stumbled upon this post and figured I’d answer you while I’m here. I’m also an American in Italy and have all of my packages sent to me through myus.com. The prices are much lower than mailing through the post office and they arrive in Italy with DHL or Fedex within 4/5 days. Unfortunately, coffee is on the list of prohibited items:

      Roasted or ground coffee and its substitutes; roasted chicory.

      Ciao,
      Laura

  • Reply David June 27, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Hello:

    Why on earth are photo albums prohibited? You mean a person in Italy can’t receive family photos?? That’s crazy! Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • Reply Natalie June 27, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Hi David! All the info is from the US postal service… I don’t even try to question why Italy has certain rules any more…

      It literally might be the ALBUM itself, not the photos. You can send photos but not an album. Maybe because Italy has a paper/book making industry that they want to protect?

  • Reply Jenn June 30, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    The USPS list of prohibited items is outdated. Here’s a list from Fedex https://smallbusiness.fedex.com/international/country-snapshots/italy.html

    • Reply Natalie June 30, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks!

  • Reply Luciano Mezzetta March 28, 2019 at 9:50 am

    The Italian Post Office is mired in bureaucratic nonsense and its call center is manned by utter incompetents who know nothing other than to get a monthly pay check for knowing and doing nothing.

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