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Items You Cannot Get Through Customs

By Expert Author: www.cheapfares.com

You do not want to put a damper on a trip abroad that started off well by reviewing cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages, only to discover when returning that money spent on items you wanted to bring home are confiscated at the border.

The following items are not allowed through U.S. customs for reasons ranging from health, to complex economic or cultural factors:

• Absinthe containing 10 parts per million or more of the chemical thujone is illegal to bring into the country. Be aware that typically absinthe makers who emphasize the alcohol's supposed “mind altering” properties are focused on taking tourists’ money. Make certain any alcohol you imbibe while abroad is “thujone free” and does not have the word “absinthe” or any psychotropic image on the bottle.

• Plants and crafts made from plants must be presented to a customs officer for inspection. You will need a permit to bring in items like cut flowers with berries attached, nursery stock and seeds. Other fauna, such as noxious weeds (even when it has a harmless sounding name such as “apricot cape tulip”) are not allowed. If you have a plant you want to return to the U.S., apply for a USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine permit online after first checking to see if it is prohibited.

• Ivory including jewelry made from ivory requires a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because of the Endangered Species Act. Antique ivory can be imported if special documentation can be provided showing that it is over 100 years old.

• Ancient artifacts require an export permit in part because so many items have been stolen from museums and churches. The U.S. National Stolen Property Act prevents individuals from legally owning a stolen item, regardless of how many people have since had it in their possession. An export permit from the country you are taking the item out of is required. You should check out of U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affair’s website for information regarding what is not allowed.

• Meat based products even in soup mix can introduce serious pathogens into the U.S. and spread diseases such as foot-and mouth, African fever, mad cow, and avian flu. The same is true for canned and dried meats.

• Souvenirs from Cuba (including its famous cigars), Iran, and much of Sudan are forbidden because of economic sanctions placed against these countries. Exceptions to this rule include books, magazines, films, photographs, posters, art, and music as well as small gifts valued under $100.

• Most fruits and vegetables are forbidden. One piece of fruit carried onto a plane heading to the U.S. resulted in the great California Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in the early 1980’s which cost the federal government $100 million to eliminate. Failing to report produce at customs could result in a $300 fine.

• Designer knockoffs and cartoon character paraphernalia are subject to U.S. copyright and trademark protections. You can bring in one item of its kind into the country, such as a pair of sunglasses, a purse, and a pair of jeans, so long as it is for personal use. Multiple fakes of the same item are not allowed.

• Cash in excess of $10,000 is not allowed. Smuggling bulk currency is an offense under the Bank Secrecy Act and something drug traffickers are known to do. Money orders, travelers’ checks, and foreign coins, not just paper bills, count as well. To bring in excess money, obtain a form called “Report of International Transportation of Currency of Monetary Instruments” from a customs officer. If caught, you could face up to five years in jail.

• Select Haitian and African goat hide drums will be seized because the skins are not treated properly and contain cutaneous anthrax. Ensure that your drum covers have been tanned which will result in them being non-infectious.

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