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 foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. for your destination country to find out what is prohibited. 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:
- gold and other precious metals,
- precious and semi-precious stones,
- electronic equipment not declared on arrival,
- firearms and ammunition,
- animal skins,
- religious artifacts and literature, and
- ivory and certain other wildlife parts and products.
Countries may require export permits, which may take some time to process. Travelers who violate foreign customs rules can be detained at the airport, fined, have the items confiscated, and, in some cases, be sentenced to prison.
To be safe, check with foreign embassies and consulates in the United States for your destination country before you travel. 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 into the United States, or that you can bring in only under certain conditions. For information on U.S. customs regulations and procedures, see the Customs and Border Protection booklet “Know Before You Go.”
Many wildlife and wildlife products are prohibited from import into the United States. You risk confiscation and a possible fine if you attempt to bring them into the United States. For more information see:
Watch out for the following prohibited items (this is an illustrative list):
- All products made from sea turtles
- All ivory, both Asian and African elephant
- Rhinoceros horn and horn products
- Furs from spotted cats
- Furs and ivory from marine mammals
- Feathers and feather products from wild birds
- Most crocodile and caiman leather
- Most coral, whether in chunks or in jewelry
For more information, you may contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, at 1-800- 344-9453, or send an email to the Fish and Wildlife Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.