Banner matrix depicting parcel deliveries

What do couriers deliver?

Planning to use a courier service? It is important to know what they can deliver and, more importantly, what they will not.

Items a courier service will not deliver

Couriers ship most things, including some foodstuffs. However, every courier service will also have a list of items they will not ship or deliver. The exact list will differ between couriers, although there will be some similarities.

Obvious prohibited items include drugs and firearms. You may also discover a few less obvious, but common, exclusions: e.g. high-value antiques, live animals, and human remains.

Always check your courier’s list of prohibited items before sending a parcel. At Impact Express we retain the right to refuse to carry items at our own discretion. We do not refuse to deliver something lightly; the reasons are nearly always owing to safety, or because it would be against the law to deliver the item.

Antique painting being handled for shipping

Some dangerous goods are deliverable

If an item presents a manageable safety risk, it may be accepted.

Impact Express offers a special dangerous goods service, which allows us to deliver items such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops with lithium ion batteries, and dry ice. Doing so requires fully trained dangerous goods staff. All staff and procedures must comply with IATA regulations.

Country specific restrictions

In addition to satisfying a courier’s own set of prohibitions, items sent overseas must also comply with the rules of the destination country.

Most nations have rules and restrictions relating to the importation of goods. If your item does not meet the customs requirements at the destination, it may be returned, retained or even destroyed.

There are several items which cannot be shipped abroad by a courier at all. These include:

  • skins, furs, and horn products
  • aerosol cans/sprays
  • alcohol
  • car batteries
  • explosives
  • firearms or weapons (swords, knives chainsaws, etc).

Customs officials inspecting packages

Weight and size restrictions

Most courier services specify a maximum weight and size restriction, but deliver anything up to the maximum. Parcels over 40kg are usually considered ‘large’.

Couriers use volumetric weight to measure an item. This is a size measurement which determines how bulky an item is.

A common method for calculating volumetric weight is:

Parcel length x width x depth
5,000 or 6,000

Some couriers allow a maximum weight limit of 70kg. However, there are couriers who will deliver an item within the UK up to 500kg, and with maximum combined dimensions of 549cm.

For items over a courier’s weight or size restrictions, you should consider using a freight service.

Sending multiple items

Most couriers are more than happy to ship and deliver multiple items. However, always consider the number and volume of items you need to send. In this context, it is important to distinguish a courier service from something like a removal service.

A courier will normally require that each item over a certified weight must be wrapped in a particular way and transported by pallet. If this is the case, it’s not hard to see why a courier probably wouldn’t be a good choice for transporting items when moving house.

Oversized package being transported on a vehicle

Who has responsibility for what couriers deliver?

It is the sender’s responsibility to comply with all of the different rules. This includes ensuring their chosen courier will deliver their item, and that the item complies with export and import rules.

Remember: items may be inspected by the courier service or by customs officials. Most couriers will also reserve the right to refuse or suspend transportation of any package.

It is also the sender’s responsibility to ensure an item is correctly packaged.


At Impact Express, we are happy to deliver most items, of varying shapes and sizes, which we assess to be safe for delivery. As a Dangerous Goods Certified Carrier, we also have the experience and understanding necessary to manage and carry certain goods that other couriers may refuse.

If you any questions about the type of item you’d like to send, get in touch with us. Our experienced and friendly team is ready to help.

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