US Customs regulations

A move to the US, or anywhere abroad for that matter, comes with numerous things to do and heaps of paperwork to fill out. When packing your bags, you especially need to keep US Customs regulations in mind!

Before you pack your belongings and send them on their way to the United States, you have to make sure that the items you want to import are in compliance with current import restrictions. US Customs and Border Protection has established strict rules on what items and respective amounts you may import under which specific circumstances to the United States. Some of these US Customs rules may not apply to you, but others will. With everything else you have to worry about at the beginning of your international assignment, you don’t want to get in trouble with US Customs.

Generally speaking, personal effects and household goods are duty-free. You can take along your clothing, jewelry and photographic equipment without any difficulties with US Customs. But you cannot import everything that easily. US Customs and Border Protection has placed strict limitations, for example, on tobacco (products) and alcohol, and other items you are not allowed to import at all. US Customs officers tend to be very rigid when it comes to enforcing these rules. It is therefore immensely important that you properly inform yourself in regard to customs regulations before you leave for the United States. In the following article, you will find an overview of those customs regulations that are particularly interesting to expats.

 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

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