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Nothing to declare: The good, the bad and the ugly

When it comes to shipping things from A to B in this country, most of us are pretty clued up. But how much do we know about transportation when we need to send something overseas? All over the world, different countries have differing restrictions concerning what can be allowed in (and out) – for both cargo and passenger goods. Sadly for some, these laws can mean getting caught out and losing some of your prized belongings – but for us it’s those who try and smuggle the weird and wonderful that are the most interesting. Here are our favourite ‘Nothing to Declare’ anecdotes from around the world – enjoy!

Something’s fishy

A female passenger travelling through Melbourne was busted when officials found 15 bags of water in her skirt containing rare tropical fish. She was discovered after security guards became suspicious when they heard ‘flapping sounds’ coming from her clothing! The fish were later found to be worth $30,000 – although the woman when questioned insisted that she hadn’t smuggled the fish for commercial reasons and in fact just loved them herself and wanted to take them home for her own personal enjoyment.

Snakes on a plane

After tucking 14 Royal Pythons into socks then strapping them to his chest with duct tape (along with 10 writhing Leopard Geckos), a 22 year old Norwegian traveller was stopped when customs officials noted that his whole body appeared to be wriggling bizarrely. A Brazilian man was also arrested after attempting to smuggle seven live snakes and three turtles into Miami in his trousers and another was busted with 44 snakes and lizards headed for the black market in Bangkok.

Bird is the word

Rare, exotic birds are a valuable commodity often discovered hidden from customs for a variety of reasons. Recently 24 yellow-crested cockatoos, each stuffed into an empty plastic water bottle, were discovered in Indonesia, and a man in Australia was found to have two pigeons concealed in jiffy bags strapped to his legs. Possibly one of the most incredible cases was one man’s attempt to smuggle 12 hummingbirds secured in specially-sewn pouches in the front of his underpants. Unsurprisingly, he was caught after he was spotted ‘fidgeting suspiciously’. They’re not the only weird and wonderful creature to have called underwear their home for a while – a passenger was caught in India with a live Loris (a small monkey) concealed in his pants!


It goes without saying that Apple products carry a pretty hefty price tag all over the world – and deals on the much-wanted devices are almost as in demand as the products themselves. So it came as little surprise to officials in Hong Kong when they stopped a man who was ‘walking and standing suspiciously’ only to discover that he was wearing a home-made suit of almost 100 iPhones, strapped onto his body with copious amounts of cling-film and tape.

On a serious note, when it comes to shipping parcels overseas, it’s always a good idea to check what you can and can’t send. Laws and regulations vary quite considerably from place to place – and certain locations (such as Australia) have much stricter border controls which mean even the most harmless-seeming objects (like wooden bowls and shell jewellery) may not be allowed into the country. If you’re ever unsure – simply ask – or check out these handy guidelines on the UK’s customs website:

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