Customs and Import Restrictions
Customs Restrictions of Foreign Destinations – What You Cannot Take to Other Countries
Many countries have restrictions on what you can bring into that country, including food, pets (see “Taking a Pet Overseas”) and medications. Even over-the-counter medications may be prohibited in some countries. Check with the embassies of your destination countries as to prohibited items. A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. is available on the Department of State’s website. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found in the Country Specific Information for each country.
Customs Restrictions of Foreign Destinations – What You Cannot Take out of Other Countries
A number of countries have restrictions on what items you can export or take with you when departing that country including, but not limited to, currency, gold and other precious metals, precious and semi-precious stones, electronic equipment not declared on arrival, antiques, animal skins, religious artifacts, and ivory jewelry. Countries may require export permits, which may take some time to process. Travelers found violating customs rules can be detained at the airport, fined, have the items confiscated, and, in some cases, be sentenced to prison for three months or more. To be safe, check with the embassies of your destination countries as to prohibited items before you travel. A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the United States is available on the Department of State’s website. You can also find general information about a foreign country’s customs in the Country Specific Information we provide at travel.state.gov.
U.S. Customs Restrictions – What You Cannot Bring Back With You
There are some items that you cannot bring back with you into the United States, or that you can bring back only under certain conditions. For information on U.S. customs regulations and procedures, see the Customs and Border Protection booklet “Know Before You Go.”
There are special rules for products made from endangered wildlife. Many wildlife and wildlife products are prohibited either by U.S. or foreign laws from import into the United States. You risk confiscation and a possible fine if you attempt to bring them into the United States when you return. Watch out for the following prohibited items:
- All products made from sea turtles
- All ivory, both Asian and African elephant, and rhinoceros
- Furs from spotted cats
- Furs from marine mammals
- Feathers and feather products from wild birds
- Most crocodile and caiman leather
- Most coral, whether in chunks or in jewelry
You may import an object made of ivory if it is an antique. To be an antique the ivory must be at least 100 years old, and you will need documentation that authenticates the age of the ivory. You may import other antiques containing wildlife parts under the same conditions -- they must be accompanied by documentation proving they are at least 100 years old. Certain other requirements for antiques may also apply.
For more information, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Law Enforcement, P.O. Box 3247, Arlington, VA 22203-3247, call 800-358-2104, or send an email to the Fish and Wildlife Service Customer Service Center.
Learn About Your Destination
Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws: While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. Check out our country-specific safety and travel information about the places you will visit.