Written by Dilhan Salgado D'Arcy

And so begins another academic year, and with it the inevitable joy of stuffing as many clothes and household items into luggage while thinking why, oh why, the technology of the TARDIS and Mary Poppins’s bag has not yet been properly developed in our modern age.

The choices of what to take and what to abandon are difficult enough. How many jumpers do you really need? – at St Andrews, a lot. Will everyone else have a Barbour jacket too? – yes. But, when going on (arguably) more exciting adventures abroad, these choices are made even harder. This is because the most mundane of items – items which we don’t think twice about using – can be banned in other countries. To help avoid unknowingly stumbling into the realm of illegality, here are seven common things that are banned elsewhere.

Plastic Bags – Bangladesh, Kenya

Do you love a plastic bag? Well, even if you do, importing them is now illegal in certain countries.  Bangladesh has had a ban on plastic bags since 2002, while most recently Kenya has introduced a ban and fines of up to $40,000 for importing the little blighters. And we thought 5 pence was bad!

Vicks Vapo Rub – Japan

Yes, this staple of every medicine cupboard in the UK is banned in Japan. Japan has very strict policies on medicines and, unfortunately, not knowing these policies may not be considered a defence. If you’re worried about catching a cold, you should also know that blowing your nose in public is considered rude. A good coat is your best option, and hopefully an option that shouldn’t cause any problems.

Kinder Eggs – USA

Who would have thought those sweet and innocent treats could get themselves banned? Well, the US did just that as the toys in them were said to pose a choking hazard. You shouldn’t miss them too much however, in the land that invented fried dough.

Pork – Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia (and more)

Don’t try bringing that nifty packet of scratchings with you if you’re on your way to Iran, Iraq or Saudi Arabia. The importation of pork is banned for religious reasons. And if you like pork scratchings, you should probably think of giving them a break for a while anyway. Seriously. Stop.


Baby Walkers – Canada

Not your typical piece of luggage, admittedly. But if you were thinking of bringing a baby walker to Canada, it’s best to reconsider. The country banned them in 2004 as they were considered a safety hazard for young children. Don’t walk through security with one of these! (I’m so sorry).


Alcohol – Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia (and more)

It’s no secret that the streets of St Andrews run blue with Pablos*, the very lifeblood of much of the student body. But not so much elsewhere. The importation of alcohol is illegal in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and many more countries. For more information, the Foreign Office’s travel advice page is well worth a look. After all, alcohol can cause you much more trouble than just a hangover if you’re caught with it in the wrong place.

*A university favourite made from blue WKD and vodka