Are you traveling abroad? These common substances are banned in some countries

to practice – Electronic cigarettes, plastic bags, chewing gum… common items in France or food prohibited in certain countries. Be careful not to carry them in your luggage.

Are you planning to travel to Asia or the United States? You can’t fit everything in your suitcase. Most of the prohibitions are already well known to tourists, especially perishable foodstuffs (fruits, meat, plants, etc.), dangerous goods (weapons, explosives, etc.) and counterfeiting. A country’s authorities may also ban clothing or products that may offend religious beliefs or political opinions.

But other rules are surprising to us, French travelers. Everyday objects, food or medicine are banned in some countries. Their use or their simple introduction into the territory can lead to confiscation, fines or worse, imprisonment. A piece of advice: Read carefully the country sheets published by France Diplomatie (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), especially the “Entry / Stay” tab.

chewing gum

Are you planning a trip to Singapore? Empty your pockets looking for a possible package of chewing gum. In Asian city-states, this gum is not only prohibited to be chewed in public, but also prohibited to be imported, even for personal use. Known for its strict rules of life (for example, not flushing the toilet is a crime), Singapore has had this ban in place since 1992 to keep its streets clean. The Singapore Customs website specifies that only therapeutic chewing gum approved by the Ministry of National Health is allowed.


Some countries, mainly in Southeast Asia, ban both possession of electronic cigarettes and vaping in public. This is especially the case in Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Thailand. Later, simple possession of an electronic cigarette, banned since 2014, is punishable by a fine of 100,000 baht (€3,000). A French woman found out the hard way in February 2019 when police detained her for four days and fined her 1,100 euros.

In other tourist destinations, restrictions have been further relaxed. In Japan and Hong Kong, electronic cigarettes are allowed if they do not contain nicotine. In Finland, travelers cannot carry more than 10ml of e-liquid. In any case, vaping in public is prohibited. For country-by-country regulations, the site (in English) is regularly updated by the World Institute for Tobacco Control (The Institute for Global Tobacco Control).

Codeine is a drug

In the summer of 2014, a French woman was arrested by the Georgian authorities… because of a box of codeine Dafalgan. This drug, sold in France without a prescription until 2017, is specifically indicated against headaches. It contains two painkillers, paracetamol and codeine. However, this last molecule is considered a drug in Georgia. It is possible to enter the region with this substance at the cost of heavy administrative procedures described on the website of the French Embassy in Tbilisi. As a tourist, he was able to leave the country after a trial and a fine of 2500 €.

A word of advice: check if the medicines you are taking are approved in the country of destination. Some substances that are completely harmless in one country may be banned in another. For example, drugs containing pseudoephedrine (including Actifed and Humex) are banned in Japan, even in therapeutic form. If you are undergoing treatment, be sure to bring your prescription and have it translated into English. The “Health” and “Entry/Stay” sections of the France Diplomacy country sheet are again a good source of information here.

plastic bag

Some countries are leading the way in environmental change. Maybe too early for most tourists. 34 countries responsible for massive pollution on the African continent have banned plastic bags. A ban that applies to both locals and foreigners. Kenya is one of the most oppressive countries in this regard. Since August 2017, using or possessing plastic bags (including those in duty-free shops) can result in a €32,000 fine and four years in prison.

In June 2019, Tanzania in turn tightened its rules. The government invites tourists to get rid of plastic bags before entering the country, as the French embassy in Dar es Salaam reminds us. Plastic cosmetic bags are allowed, provided they are not left behind. Offenders can be fined €80 and jailed for a maximum of seven days. Deliberately light punishment.

The authorities explained that they did not want toMakes things unpleasant for tourists. This is just to emphasize the need to protect the environment and keep our country clean and attractive; Visitors are welcome to accept the minor restrictions that result.»

The Kinder Surprise

Just be careful not to bring any chocolates for his uncle from America. Kinder Surprise has been banned in the United States since 1938, when the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act went into effect. This law, which predates the creation of Kinder Surprise (in 1975), prohibits placing a non-edible product inside an edible product to avoid choking hazards. This is why especially American pastry chefs do not put the bean in the galette des rois but sell it separately.

Kinder Eggs are banned because they contain a surprise, which poses a choking and aspiration risk for children under three. They cannot be imported into the United States and will be confiscated and destroyed“, recalls a warning American customs. Since 2018, the Ferrero company has been allowed to sell Kinder Surprise in the United States for the first time. To respect the law, toys and chocolates are sold separately. Only this version is allowed on American soil.

Published in November 2019, this article is subject to an update.

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