Sunday, May 13, 2007

Border Patrol: Ten Basic Tips from U.S. Customs

The United States Customs offers these ten basic tips for the traveler going abroad. Easy to remember, they will help you in your shopping abroad decisions and exit from and re-entry to the United States.

1) Check that you have all the required travel documents for the countries you're visiting, as well as identification for re-entry to the United States. Passports are required for re-entry to the U.S. by air from all countries as of January 23, 2007. Visit for destination information.

2) Declare everything you are brining in from abroad, even if you brought it in a duty-free shop. (Items sold there are subject to the U.S. duty fees and other restrictions.)

3) If you buy something from a street vendor, keep in mind that it may be counterfeit and/or unsafe. You may have to surrender it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when you get home.

4) If you bought things abroad for personal use or as gifts, they are eligible for duty exemptions. If you are bringing them back for resale, they're not.

5) Shipped goods are not eligible for your personal duty free exemption, and it may cost more than you think to clear them through U.S. Customs and Border Proections. U.S. Customs offers an "International Mail Imports" brochure for more information.

6) Regarding medecine, many foreign-made medications are not FDA-approved and cannot be brought into the United States. Also, when traveling abroad, bring only the amount of medication you'll need during the trip. T.H.T notes that all prescription medications be carried in original bottles/packaging with prescription labels.

7) Don't try to bring any Cuban-made products into the U.S., no matter where they were purchased.

8) Don't try to bring any food into the U.S. without first checking to see if is permitted. Also, any and all live birds and bird products, whether for personal or commercial use, may be restricted and/or quarantined. T.H.T. notes that even meat products are suspect by U.S. Customs. Usually most confections, cookies, jam/jellies and coffees/teas purchased abroad are safe for export.

9) CPB officers can inspect you and your belongings without a warrant. This may include luggage, vehicle and personal searches, and is meant to enforce the law as well as protect all legitimate travelers.

10) Read the helpful brochure, "Know Before You Go," before traveling. Print copies may be requested online or view the web version at under the Travel section.

The Hopeful Traveler has posted links for U.S. Customs, including the to the "Know Before You Go" brochure, under the Quick Links section of this blog. Another link is added for passport information to the U.S. Department of State website.


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