Non-mailable Matter

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Last updated: 2017-01-16

Last Updated Date
January 16, 2017
Added information on Electronic smoking products.
Updated List of Dangerous Goods.


What Is Non-mailable Matter?

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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. Solicited Publications Mail items only require opaque wrapping.
Sexually explicit material that is sent as Personalized Mail™ or Neighbourhood Mail™ 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 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.

Prohibitions or restrictions on the acceptance of certain articles for transmission by post may apply (refer to International Destination Listing).


Criminal Code and Other Offences

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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

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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), or
  • 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.
Returning expired or defective product
If the product is expired or defective and is being returned from a retailer to a manufacturer, the following conditions apply:
  • the shipments can be inter-provincial
  • the “PROOF OF AGE (18 or 19)“ option is not required
  • a compliant Canada Post return label must be used

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.
The originator of the shipment is solely accountable to ensure all tobacco shipments meet the requirements defined within the Tobacco Act.


Electronic smoking products

Electronic smoking products (electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes and the liquid cartridges) are non-mailable unless they meet the following requirements:

  • can only be mailed domestically by a ground/surface service
Customer type
Service to be used
Regular Parcel with Signature option
Contract customer
Expedited Parcel with the Proof of Age (18 or 19) option using EST. Visit Section 4.3.2 Mail addressed to children of Policies for an age of majority by province or territory listing.
  • must not be shipped to remote locations in Canada (see Air Stage Office List in Prices)
  • The lithium battery in the device must meet the requirements in Section of ABCs of Mailing for domestic ground/surface mailing of lithium batteries
  • liquid cartridges must be nicotine free and sealed to prevent the scent from escaping. To properly prepare liquids for mailing, refer to the information on packaging and wrapping materials, found in Section 3.2.2 of ABCs of Mailing.
Electronic smoking 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, require market authorization by Health Canada prior to being sold in Canada. For more information, refer to Notice - To All Persons Interested in Importing, Advertising or Selling Electronic Smoking Products in Canada on the Department of Health Canada website.


Firearms (including imitation and replica firearms)

International destinations:

Under no circumstances can Firearms be mailed as defined by the Firearms Act: (Section 16 - non-contract) or (Section 15 - contract).


Please contact the Canadian Firearms Centre at 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:

Customer Type
Service To Be Used
Regular Parcel with Signature option.
Contract customer
Expedited Parcel with the Proof of Age (18 or 19) option using EST. Visit Section 4.3.2 Mail addressed to children of Policies for an age of majority by province or territory listing.

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.


Intoxicating beverages

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 Solutions for Small Business cardholders that meet each of the following requirements:

  1. the customer uses Electronic Shipping Tools (EST) and selects the "PROOF OF AGE" (18 or 19) option (which includes a signature at delivery); and
As the legal age for certain goods may differ from age of majority by province or territory, it is the customer's responsibility to ensure that the appropriate age is selected under the Proof of Age option.
  1. 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.
As defined in the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. Note that certain provinces have further restrictions on what is classified as “wine”.
As defined in the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. This definition is only applicable to the mailing of wine as set out above.

Regardless of who is shipping, special restrictions apply as follows:

  1. If the intoxicating beverage contains less than 24% alcohol by volume* (e.g. 48 proof), the item can be shipped by air or ground.
  2. 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 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 Regulations, visit the Department of Justice website at


Medical/Biological materials

The material must not be infectious, poisonous, or otherwise prohibited under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Food and 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 labelling requirements. For requirements on biological specimens, see Section Liquid and dry patient specimens (human or animal) of ABCs of Mailing.


Perishable items

Fish, game, meat, fruit, vegetables or other perishable items must be properly prepared and meet applicable requirements for mailing (see Section 3.2.2 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 3.2.2 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 3.2.2 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:



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:




Solicitations by Mail

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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 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:


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

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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, 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


Dangerous Goods

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Dangerous Goods, as defined by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDGR), are non-mailable matter. Canada Post will not accept packages that contain dangerous goods or that display dangerous goods symbols, except for lithium batteries described in Section Batteries of ABCs of Mailing. 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, the package 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 not be delivered.

It is important to note that dangerous goods can be found in everyday items or commodities.

For contract customers and Solutions for Small Business cardholders, a limited quantity, excepted quantity and expanded lithium battery acceptance program is available. Please contact your sales representative or call Customer Service 1-888-550-6333 for more details.


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 for information.

Table 1: List of dangerous goods
Class 1
- Explosives
  • ammunition / cartridge
  • black powder
  • blasting caps
  • detonators
  • dynamite
  • explosive fuses and igniters
  • fireworks
  • flash powder
  • grenades
  • rocket motors
  • signal flares
  • toy and starting pistol caps
Class 2
- Compressed Gases
  • aerosol products (hair sprays, inhalers)
  • bear / dog spray
  • camping stove and BBQ cylinders
  • cigarette lighter
  • cryogenic liquids (nitrogen, helium, etc.)
  • cylinders of compressed gas (oxygen, air, acetylene, butane, propane, carbon dioxide, etc.)
  • fire extinguishers
  • mustard gas
Class 3
- Flammable liquids
  • acetone (nail polish and remover)
  • adhesives (glues)
  • alcohols (butanols, methanol, ethanol, etc.)
  • camping fuel
  • cigarette lighter fuel
  • essential oils (tea tree and eucalyptus oils)
  • furniture stripper
  • gasoline
  • gasoline additives
  • paints, enamels, lacquers, etc
  • perfume and shaving lotion
  • petroleum - products / kerosene
  • thinners
Class 4
- Flammable substances
  • charcoal
  • fire starters
  • flameless ration heaters (FRH)
  • fuel tablets
  • matches
  • metals (calcium, magnesium, phosphurous and sodium)
  • moth balls
  • oil impregnated fabrics
Class 5
- Oxidizers and organic peroxides
  • ammonium nitrate products (fertilizer)
  • bleaching powders
  • disinfectants
  • fibreglass repair kits
  • hair and textile dyes
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • nitrates
  • organic peroxides
  • oxygen pellets
  • pool - chlorine / bromine
Class 6
- Toxic and infectious substances
  • arsenic
  • bacteria and viruses (hepatitis, HIV, etc.)
  • chloroform
  • disinfectants
  • drugs / medicine
  • fungicides
  • herbicides
  • infectious diagnostic specimen (blood samples)
  • used needles and swabs
Class 7
- Radioactive materials
  • measuring instruments
  • medical isotopes
  • smoke detectors
Class 8
- Corrosives
  • acids (hydrochloric, sulphuric, nitric, muriatic, etc.)
  • battery acid
  • caustic soda
  • cleaners
  • disinfectants
  • drain openers
  • dyes
  • etching fluid
  • fire extinguishers
  • formaldehyde
  • household bleach
  • mercury
  • mercury thermometers and blood pressure gauges
  • oven cleaners
  • paint or varnish remover
  • potassium hydroxide
  • rust remover
  • self heating beverages (SHB)
  • soda lime
  • sodium hydroxide
Class 9
- Miscellaneous
  • air bags
  • asbestos
  • caron dioxide solid
  • dry ice
  • gas filled shock absorbers
  • lithium batteries (with / without device)
  • petrol powered devices - even without petrol (lawn mowers, chain saws, weed cutters, motor bikes, etc.)
  • self inflating life preservers
  • strong magnets

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.

Table 2: List of commodities that may contain dangerous goods
Dangerous Goods Which May Be Present
Agricultural supplies
fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides
Automobile parts
wet batteries, shocks/struts with nitrogen, air bags, etc.
Breathing apparatus
cylinders of compressed air or oxygen
Camping gear
flammable gas or liquid, matches, other dangerous goods
often found to be dangerous
Chemistry kits
dangerous chemicals
Cleaning fluids
dangerous chemicals
hairsprays, flammable liquids, or other dangerous goods
very low temperature liquefied gases
compressed gases
Dental supplies
resins or solvents
Diagnostic specimens
infectious substances
Diving equipment
gas cylinders, high intensity diving lamps
Electrical equipment
mercury in switch and electron tubes
Electrically powered apparatus (wheelchairs, lawnmowers, etc.)
wet batteries (corrosive)
explosive substances
Frozen fruit, vegetables
dry ice
Household goods
paint, aerosols, bleaching powder, etc.
Individual meal packs (IMP)
flameless ration heaters (FRH) and self heating beverages (SHB)
barometers, manometers and sphygmomanometers containing mercury, mercury switches, thermometers, etc.
Laboratory equipment
dangerous chemicals
Machinery parts
may include adhesives, paints, sealants, solvents, etc.
Medical supplies
dangerous chemicals, thermometers, blood pressure instruments
flammable solvents
Party supplies
compressed gases, explosive articles
flammable liquids
dangerous chemicals
Photographic supplies
dangerous chemicals
Repair kits
adhesives, paints, organic peroxides, solvents, etc.
Samples for testing
may contain dangerous goods
Swimming pool chemicals
dangerous goods
Switches (electrical)
mercury switches
Tool boxes
may contains explosives (power rivets), aerosols, adhesives, etc.
may be composed of flammable material
may be packed in dry ice

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