What Is Non-mailable Matter?
Generally, non-mailable matter means, but is not limited to, any mail:
- that is prohibited by law (e.g., illegal, obscene, fraudulent)
- for which the importing or mailing contravenes an Act of Parliament
- that fails to meet certain physical characteristics or marking requirements
- that contains products or substances that could:
- cause injury to those handling the mail
- cause damage to postal equipment or other items, or
- cause entrapment of other items
- that contains sexually explicit material unless it is sent in an opaque envelope with the words “ADULT MATERIAL” or similar wording.
Sexually explicit material that is sent as Addressed Admail or Unaddressed Admail means images or representations of nudity that are suggestive of sexual activity; images or representations of sexual intercourse, with no context suggesting violence or degradation; or written text that describes sexual acts in a way that is more than purely technical, with no context suggesting violence or degradation.
Any item bearing a modified postage stamp in contravention of section 52, or bearing a word or mark in contravention of section 58, of the Canada Post Corporation Act and Regulations is also non-mailable matter.
The customer is solely responsible for ensuring that an item is acceptable for mailing. Without limiting that responsibility, by depositing an item with Canada Post the customer represents to Canada Post that the item has been properly prepared and paid for, does not constitute non-mailable matter, and that the mailing of that item is permitted by applicable law. The customer acknowledges that in accepting an item for deposit, Canada Post may expressly rely on that representation from the customer. Visit General Terms and Conditions at canadapost.ca/generalterms for information on how non-compliant items will be handled. For more information, refer to the Canada Post Corporation Act and Regulations. See in particular the Non-mailable Matter Regulations and the Solicitations by Mail Regulations.
Criminal Code and Other Offences
Any person using the mail for the delivery of any one of the following items commits an offence:
- articles that are obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous
- any information relating to bookmaking, pool-setting, betting or waging
- articles relating to unlawful lottery schemes
- any article relating to schemes to deceive or defraud the public
- articles or special messages sent to any person with the intention to obtain money under false pretences.
False representation on any customs document is considered an offence.
Prohibited and Controlled Items
Some products may be prohibited from the mail or prohibited from entering Canada. Prohibited products are not permitted in the mail under any circumstances.
Controlled products may be permitted in the mail but have special requirements or require special documentation.
The list that follows is a general overview of prohibited items, or items that may have special restrictions on how or to whom they may be shipped. These items must be properly prepared and meet applicable requirements for mailing.
Replica or inert munitions
Replica or inert munitions are non-mailable, as well as other devices that simulate explosive devices or munitions, including replica or inert grenades or other simulated military munitions, whether or not such items are for display purposes. These products are not permitted in the mail under any circumstances.
Tobacco products are non-mailable unless:
- the shipments are intra provincial (within province only), and
- they are imported in limited quantities for personal consumption and meet the requirements of the Canada Border Services Agency’s enforcement of the Tobacco Act, and
one of the following criteria is met:
- the shipment is between manufacturers and retailers or between retailers. These items can only be shipped by customers using Electronic Shipping Tools (EST) and selecting the “PROOF OF AGE (18 or 19)” option, or
- the product is a replacement product (free of charge) mailed by a manufacturer to a consumer, or
- the person is otherwise exempted by the regulations.
For additional information, refer to the Stamping and Marking of Tobacco Products Regulations or the Tobacco Act on the Department of Justice website.
A unit is defined as: 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars; 200 tobacco sticks; or 200 g (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco. Amounts in excess of five units are subject to the labelling and stamping requirements of the Tobacco Department Regulations
Electronic smoking products (i.e. electronic products for the vaporization and administration of inhaled doses of nicotine including electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and pipes, as well as cartridges of nicotine solutions and related products) currently require market authorization by Health Canada prior to being imported. Failure to obtain this authorization will result in your items being refused entry by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). For additional information, refer to the Notice - To All Persons Interested in Importing, Advertising or Selling Electronic Smoking Products in Canada
on the Department of Health Canada website.
The originator of the shipment is solely accountable to ensure all tobacco shipments meet the requirements defined within the Tobacco Act
Firearms (including imitation and replica firearms)
Under no circumstances can Firearms be mailed as defined by the Firearms Act: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/sor-98-209/FullText.html (Section 16 - non-contract) or http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-98-210/FullText.html (Section 15 - contract).
Please contact the Canadian Firearms Centre at cfc-cafc.gc.ca or by calling 1-800-731-4000 to determine whether it is permissible to ship your firearms.
When it is determined permissible to ship firearms, they must be shipped as follows:
There cannot be any ammunition in the firearm or in the package. Bullets, cartridges and other ammunition are dangerous goods and cannot be mailed. These items fall under Class 1 (Explosives) of the Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations.
Customers who wish to ship firearms must:
- unload the firearms
- attach a secure locking device to the firearms
- lock the firearms in a sturdy, non-transparent container, and
- remove the bolt or bolt carrier from any automatic firearms (if removable).
Firearms cannot be shipped via air and cannot have any markings on the outside of the packaging. The customer is solely responsible for meeting all Canadian Firearms Centre regulations.
For information regarding the importing or mailing of intoxicating beverages, refer to the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act and contact the provincial liquor board. The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act can be found on the Department of Justice website.
Intoxicating beverages can only be shipped within Canada by Parcel Services contract customers and VentureOne cardholders that meet each of the following requirements:
- the customer uses Electronic Shipping Tools (EST) and selects the "PROOF OF AGE" (18 or 19) option (which includes a signature at delivery); and
- the customer and the customer's shipment of intoxicating beverages falls within one of the following categories:
- a Provincial Liquor Board or Commission is mailing to a manufacturer, distributor or individual within the same province
- a manufacturer of such beverages is mailing to a Provincial Liquor Board or Commission, to a distributor of such beverages in Canada, or to an individual within the same province
- a distributor of such beverages is mailing to a Provincial Liquor Board or Commission, to a manufacturer or distributor of such beverages in Canada, or to an individual within the same province
- such beverages are mailed between a peace officer and a test laboratory for the purpose of carrying out a lawful investigation; or
- a permitted party* mails wine** from one province*** to an individual in another province in accordance with the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act and the respective laws of the origin and destination provinces. Laws applicable to the shipment of wine vary by province. It is the customer's sole responsibility to ensure:
- the customer is legally permitted to mail wine;
- wine shipments comply with applicable provincial legislation; and
- recipient individuals are receiving the wine for their own personal consumption and not for resale or other commercial use.
Parties permitted to mail wine will vary by province in accordance with applicable provincial legislation.
Regardless of who is shipping, special restrictions apply as follows:
- If the intoxicating beverage contains less than 24% alcohol by volume* (e.g. 48 proof), the item can be shipped by air or ground.
- If the intoxicating beverage contains:
- more than 24% alcohol by volume (e.g. 48 proof); and
- less than 70% alcohol by volume (e.g. 140 proof); and
- is shipped in a container of less than five litres,
the item can be shipped by ground only.
When shipping via Priority™, intoxicating beverages are only acceptable if they contain less than 24% alcohol by volume.
Intoxicating beverages can only be imported into Canada by mail when:
- they are imported by or mailed to a licensed distiller or body authorized by the board, commission, officer or other governmental agency in the province of destination, and
- the alcohol content is no greater than 24% alcohol by volume (e.g. 48 proof).
Intoxicating beverages can only be exported from Canada by mail if:
- the applicable requirements for export have been met and the international destination postal administration permits such mailings (see canadapost.ca/internationallistings for more information).
Drugs and other controlled substances
Drugs, including narcotics and other controlled substances are governed by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Food and Drugs Act and can only be mailed in certain circumstances and subject to various restrictions. For information on Marihuana Medical Access Requlations visit the Department of Justice website at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2001-227/page-8.html#docCont.
The material must not be infectious, poisonous, or otherwise prohibited under the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Food & Drugs Act or any other applicable law. If permitted for mailing, the material (e.g., blood specimens [human and animal], spinal fluid, pathological specimens and culture specimens [e.g. urine, sputum, and swabs]) must meet the packaging and other applicable requirements. For more information on biological specimens, see Section 3.2.1 Suggestions for how to package and wrap items of ABCs of Mailing.
Fish, game, meat, fruit, vegetables or other perishable items must be properly prepared and meet applicable requirements for mailing (see Section 3.2.1 Suggestions for how to package and wrap items of ABCs of Mailing).
In addition, it should be noted that these commodities Canada Border Services Agency might require special import permits in order for these products to enter Canada. For additional information contact:
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at: 1-613-759-1000
- Canada Border Services Agency at: 1-800-461-9999.
Liquids, liquefiable substances and powders
Liquids, liquefiable substances, fatty substances and powders, provided they are otherwise mailable substances, must be properly prepared and meet applicable requirements for mailing. For information on packaging and wrapping materials, see Section 3.2.1 Suggestions for how to package and wrap items of ABCs of Mailing.
Live animals cannot be mailed unless the mailer has entered a related Agreement with Canada Post prior to mailing. Bees, day-old chicks, parasites, leeches and some other small cold blooded animals can be mailed under certain conditions (see Section 3.2.1 Suggestions for how to package and wrap items of ABCs of Mailing).
Dead animals or their parts, including, for example, the whole carcass of a beaver or a mallard duck, the antlers of a deer, hides, pelts, nests or eggs, may be acceptable for mailing, provided all applicable requirements are met. For information, please contact the:
CANADIAN WILDLIFE SERVICE
351 BOUL ST JOSEPH
GATINEAU QC K1A 0H3
Additional information may also be required from the relevant provincial government authority.
If permitted to be mailed, the package must meet the following requirements:
- the contents must not leak or emit offensive odours
- the cover of the package must bear a full, accurate description of the contents
- the name and address of the shipper must be identified
- the number of any permit under which the contents were taken must be specified.
The Plant Protection Act and the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species regulate the movement of certain plants, seeds, fruits, bark, plant parts and soil. For further information, please contact:
CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY
PLANT HEALTH DIVISION
59 CAMELOT DR
OTTAWA ON K1A 0Y9
CANADIAN WILDLIFE SERVICE
351 BOUL ST JOSEPH
GATINEAU QC K1A 0H3
Solicitations by Mail
Solicitations that have the general appearance of a bill or statement of account must clearly indicate that there is no obligation to make a payment in relation to the offer unless it is accepted. Specific wording and format requirements are detailed in the Solicitations by Mail Regulations made under the Canada Post Corporation Act and Regulations.
Customers must ensure they are applying the most current requirements of the regulation found at http://laws.justice.gc.ca. For convenience, the following details those regulatory requirements.
Where a letter or other mailable matter that is not a bill, invoice or statement of account due is in such a form that it has the general appearance of a bill, invoice or statement of account due, it shall have endorsed on its face the following notice:
“THIS IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE ORDER OF GOODS AND/OR SERVICES AND NOT A BILL, INVOICE OR STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT DUE. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAKE ANY PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT OF THIS OFFER UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.”
The notice referred to above shall be printed in boldface capital letters in such a manner that:
- the print of such notice is no less conspicuous than the print of any other word on the letter or other mailable matter; and
- the size of the print of such notice is not smaller than the larger of the print of any other word on the letter or other mailable matter or 12 point type.
There must be a clear space of not less than 6 mm immediately surrounding the notice referred to above that is printed on a letter or other mailable matter.
- The notice referred to above must be printed on a letter or other mailable matter in such a manner that the contrast between the background and the print of that notice is not less than the contrast between the background and the print of any other word on the face of the letter or other mailable matter.
No letter or other mailable matter referred to above shall state that it has been approved by the Canada Post Corporation or that it conforms to any federal statute or regulation.
No letter or other mailable matter referred to above that does not comply with these Regulations shall be sent by post.
Other Miscellaneous Prohibited Items
Other prohibited items and conditions include:
- unsealed envelopes and unsealed self-mailers, when deposited as Letter-post (see Letter-post (U.S.A. and International) for more information)
- with the exception of presort option Addressed Admail, envelopes with windows are unacceptable for mailing unless the window has a transparent cover parallel to the length of the envelope, the address of the addressee is easily read and it does not interfere with the date-stamping process
- only one auxiliary window is permitted on the front or the back of an envelope when mailed at the Incentive Lettermail price
- items that have on their outside cover anything written, printed or attached other than the name and address of the addressee and the sender or endorsements or attachments which are authorized by or under applicable regulations or by Canada Post
- items with covers that bear words, devices, etc. which may adversely affect the commercial or social standing of the addressee
- items with covers that bear rings or similar advertising devices appearing around the postage stamps (hand-stamped or printed facsimiles of postal cancelling or franking stamps)
- items with covers that bear non-postal (i.e. private manufacture) stamps or stickers that are affixed in such a manner that they may be mistaken for postage stamps or postal franking impressions, or otherwise indicating value
- mail bearing successive addresses
- items in wholly transparent envelopes unless such envelopes can be easily handled by post and the outside label is securely attached and is large enough for the name, address, postage and any applicable service instructions
- pre-printed labels must adhere to the following:
- pre-printed terminology and/or graphics on the mail piece should in no way imply special handling or service for which postage has not been paid
- the label and endorsement should not duplicate trade-marks of, or used under licence by Canada Post
- it should be clear that pre-printed labels and endorsements used by mailers are directed to the addressee as an instruction related to the enclosure
- it is the mailer’s obligation to clear an endorsement with Canada Post prior to printing, in order to ensure the “mailability” of an item
- any item emitting an offensive odour
- gold bullion, gold dust and non-manufactured precious metals unless mailed under an Agreement between Canada Post and the mailer
- any other item that contravenes the Universal Postal Convention, an Act or a Law
- visit http://www.upu.int/en/activities/customs/list-of-prohibited-articles.html for information on dangerous products as defined by the International Air-Transport Association as accepted by the Universal Postal Union.
Dangerous Goods, as defined by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (Clear Language) Regulations (TDGR), are non-mailable matter, except, if permitted by the TDGR, the mailer of the dangerous goods offers them to Canada Post for transport in Limited Quantity as defined by the TDGR, and if the Corporation is capable of handling them.
Canada Post will not otherwise accept packages that contain dangerous goods or that display dangerous goods symbols. Canada Post must assume that all markings and labels on a package identify the actual contents. If any evidence of former hazardous material contents is visible on the box, the parcel cannot be accepted.
It is acceptable to reuse boxes for mail shipments if all former package markings and labels have been removed or completely obliterated by the mailer. Merely crossing out a label and marking or writing the current contents on a box or package is insufficient to allow for mailing. The former markings and labels must be marked out even if the parcel is wrapped in paper because, if the wrapping becomes damaged during shipment, these markings will be visible and the package will then be returned.
It is important to note that dangerous goods can be found in everyday items or commodities.
Transportation of dangerous goods classes/index
Customers who are uncertain whether the items they intend to mail are dangerous goods should verify with the manufacturer or supplier or contact CANUTEC by phone at 1-613-992-4624. Customers can also consult www.tc.gc.ca/eng/tdg/safety-menu.htm for information.
List of dangerous goods
Products that contain low concentrations of dangerous goods may not be regulated if the dangerous goods are diluted to such an extent that the product no longer poses a hazard. For example, a flammable liquid that is diluted so that it is no longer flammable is not a dangerous good, provided that it does not fall under any of the nine classes listed above.
The Index of Dangerous Goods contains examples of common dangerous goods and should not be regarded as an exhaustive list. The Index does not necessarily include items designated as non-mailable matter under Canada Post’s Regulations Respecting Non-mailable Matter
(for example, knives that have been improperly prepared for mailing).
Commodities that may contain dangerous goods
General descriptions on Customs Declarations or on the outer packaging of the commodities being offered for mailing can often help determine whether a consignment contains dangerous goods.
List of commodities that may contain dangerous goods