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Prohibited and Restricted Items

CBP has been entrusted with enforcing hundreds of laws for 40 other government agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These agencies require that unsafe items are not allowed to enter the United States. CBP officers are always at ports of entry and assume the responsibility of protecting America from all threats.

The products CBP prevent from entering the United States are those that would injure community health, public safety, American workers, children, or domestic plant and animal life, or those that would defeat our national interests. Sometimes the products that cause injury, or have the potential to do so, may seem fairly innocent. But, as you will see from the material that follows, appearances can be deceiving.

Before you leave for your trip abroad, you might want to talk to CBP about the items you plan to bring back to be sure they're not prohibited or restricted. Prohibited means the item is forbidden by law to enter the United States. Examples of prohibited items are dangerous toys, cars that don't protect their occupants in a crash, bush meat, or illegal substances like absinthe and Rohypnol. Restricted means that special licenses or permits are required from a federal agency before the item is allowed to enter the United States. Examples of restricted items include firearms, certain fruits and vegetables, animal products, animal by products, and some animals.

Absinthe (Alcohol)

The importation of absinthe is subject to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations (21 C.F.R. 172.510 and the Department of the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations (27 C.F.R. Parts 13.51, 5.42(a), and 5.65. The absinthe content must be "thujone free" (that is, it must contain less than 10 parts per million of thujone); the term "absinthe" cannot be the brand name; the term "absinthe" cannot stand alone on the label; and the artwork and/or graphics cannot project images of hallucinogenic, psychotropic or mind-altering effects. Absinthe imported in violation of these regulations is subject to seizure.

Alcoholic Beverages

In addition to U.S. laws, the laws of the state in which you first arrive in the United States will govern the amount of alcohol you may bring with you, and whether you need a license. If you plan to bring alcoholic beverages with you, before you depart, you should contact the state's applicable alcoholic beverage control board to determine what you need to do to comply with that state's laws and regulations.

Automobiles

Automobiles imported into the United States must meet the fuel-emission requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency and the safety, bumper, and theft prevention standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Trying to import a car that doesn't meet all the requirements can be difficult. Please see the Importing a Motor Vehicle page for more information.

Almost all cars, vans, sport utility vehicles and so on that are bought in foreign countries must be modified to meet American standards, except most late model vehicles from Canada. Passenger vehicles that are imported on the condition that they be modified must be exported or destroyed if they are not modified acceptably. Also under these circumstances, the vehicle could require a bond upon entry until the conditions for admission have been met.

And even if the car does meet all federal standards, it might be subject to additional EPA requirements, depending on what countries it was driven in. You are strongly encouraged to contact EPA and DOT before importing a car.

Information on importing vehicles can be obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency Web site.  You may also find importation information from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of VehicleSafety Compliance.

Copies of the brochure Importing or Exporting a Car can be obtained by writing to:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection
P.O. Box 7407
Washington, DC 20044

You can also visit the Exporting a Motor Vehicle page.  The EPA Automotive Imports Fact Manual can be obtained by writing to the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC 20460. You can also visit the EPA Web site.

Cars being brought into the United States temporarily, by nonresidents, (for less than one year) are exempt from these restrictions. It is illegal to bring a vehicle into the United States and sell it if it was not formally entered on a CBP Form 7501.

Biologicals

You may need a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit and/or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention permit to import biological specimens including bacterial cultures, culture medium, excretions, fungi, arthropods, mollusks, tissues of livestock, birds, plants, viruses, or vectors for research, biological or pharmaceutical use. Permit requirements are located under "Permits" on the USDA Web site and CDC permit information can be found on the Etiologic Agent Import Permit Program page. 

Ceramic Tableware

Although ceramic tableware is not prohibited or restricted, you should know that such tableware made in foreign countries may contain dangerous levels of lead in the glaze, which can seep into foods and beverages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that if you buy ceramic tableware abroad - especially in Mexico, China, Hong Kong or India - you have it tested for lead release when you return, or use it for decorative purposes only.

Cuban-made ProductsThere is a total ban on the importation into the United States of Cuban-origin cigars and other Cuban-origin tobacco products. This prohibition extends to such products acquired in Cuba, irrespective of whether a traveler is licensed by Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) to engage in Cuba travel-related transactions, and to such products acquired in third countries by any U.S. Traveler, including purchases at duty-free shops. Contrary to what many people may believe, it is illegal for travelers to bring into the United States Cuban cigars acquired in third countries, such as Canada, United Kingdom, or Mexico.

Importation of Cuban-origin cigars and other Cuban-origin tobacco products is prohibited whether the goods are purchased by the importer or given to the importer as a gift. Similarly, the import ban extends to Cuban-origin cigars and other Cuban-origin tobacco products offered for sale over the Internet or through a catalog.

It is also illegal for U.S. persons to buy, sell, trade, or otherwise engage in transactions involving illegally-imported Cuban cigars. The penalties for doing so include, in addition to confiscation of the cigars, civil fines of up to $55,000 per violation and in appropriate cases, criminal prosecution which may result in higher fines and/or imprisonment.

These prohibitions are applicable to all goods of Cuban origin and are an important element of the comprehensive program of economic sanctions against the Cuban Government which have been in place since 1963. Those sanctions have had the support of the last seven Administrations.

The U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), administers the embargo of Cuba. Suspected embargo violations may be reported telephonically to OFAC Enforcement Division at (202) 622-2430 or via facsimile at (202) 622-1657.

Cultural Artifacts and Cultural Property

Most countries have laws that protect their cultural property. Art/artifacts/antiquities; archaeological and ethnological material are also terms used to describe this material. These laws include export controls and/ or national ownership of cultural property. Even if purchased from a business in the country of origin or in another country, legal ownership of such artifacts may be in question if brought into the United States.

Therefore, although they do not necessarily confer ownership, you must have documents such as export permits and receipts when importing such items into the United States.

While foreign laws may not be enforceable in the United States, they can cause certain U.S. laws to be invoked. For example, under the U.S. National Stolen Property Act, one cannot have legal title to art/artifacts/antiquities that were stolen - no matter how many times such items may have changed hands. Articles of stolen cultural property from museums or from religious or secular public monuments originating in any of the countries party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention specifically may not be imported into the United States.

U.S. law may also restrict the importation of specific categories of art/artifacts/antiquities. For example, U.S. laws restrict the importation of:

  • Any pre-Columbian monumental and architectural sculpture and murals from Central and South American countries;
  • Native American artifacts from Canada; Mayan pre-Columbian archaeological objects from Guatemala; pre-Columbian archaeological objects from El Salvador and Peru; archaeological objects like terracotta statues from Mali; Colonial period objects such as paintings and ritual objects from Peru;
  • Byzantine period ritual and ecclesiastic objects such as icons from Cyprus; and
  • Khmer stone archaeological sculpture from Cambodia.

Importation of items such as those listed above is permitted only when an export permit issued by the country of origin where such items were first found accompanies them. Purveyors of such items have been known to offer phony export certificates.

As additional U.S. import restrictions may be imposed in response to requests from other countries, it is wise for prospective purchasers to visit the State Department cultural property Web site.  This Web site also has images representative of the categories of cultural property for which there are specific U.S. import restrictions.

Merchandise determined to be Iraqi cultural property or other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific and religious importance illegally removed from the Iraq National Museum, the National Library and other locations in Iraq, since August 6, 1990, are also prohibited from importation.

Defense Articles or Items with Military or Proliferation Applications

Classified and Unclassified Items that have military application that are considered defense articles, thus require a license before the permanent export, temporary import and temporary export abroad. Such items may include software or technology, blueprints, design plans, and retail software packages and technical information. If CBP officials suspect that a regulated item or defense article has been temporarily imported/exported or permanently exported without a license, they are subject to detention and possible seizure for violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. A complete list of commodities and regulations can be found on the Directorate of Defense Trade Control's (DDTC) web site.

Items that have both a commercial and military application are considered to be dual-use commodities and may require an export license depending upon the specifications of the commodities. These commodities may include hardware, software, technology, blueprints, design plans and technical information. A complete list of commodities and regulations controlled under the Export Administration Regulations can be found on the Bureau of Industry and Security web site.

Dog and Cat Fur

It is illegal in the United States to import, export, distribute, transport, manufacture or sell products containing dog or cat fur in the United States. As of November 9, 2000, the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 calls for the seizure and forfeiture of each item containing dog or cat fur.

The Act provides that any person who violates any provision may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each separate knowing and intentional violation, $5,000 for each separate gross negligent violation, or $3,000 for each separate negligent violation.

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal to bring drug paraphernalia into the United States unless prescribed for authentic medical conditions such as diabetes. CBP will seize any illegal drug paraphernalia. Law prohibits the importation, exportation, manufacture, sale or transportation of drug paraphernalia. If you are convicted of any of these offenses, you will be subject to fines and imprisonment.

Firearms

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates and restricts firearms and ammunition and approves all permanent import transactions involving weapons and ammunition. If you want to import weapons or ammunition, you must do so through a licensed importer, dealer or manufacturer. Also, if the National Firearms Act prohibits certain weapons, ammunition or similar devices from coming into the country, you will not be able to import them unless the ATF provides you with written authorization to do so. If the firearm is controlled as a U.S. Munitions List article and it is temporarily imported to the United States, or it is temporarily exported, it may also require a Department of State license or need to meet the conditions for a license exemption.

You do not need an ATF permit if you can demonstrate that you are returning with the same firearms or ammunition that you took out of the United States. To prevent problems when returning, you should register your firearms and related equipment by taking them to any CBP office before you leave the United States. The CBP officer will register them on the same CBP Form-4457 used to register cameras or computers. For more information, please refer to the Tip: Register Items Before You Leave The United States page.

For further information about importing weapons, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
99 New York Ave. NE
Mail Stop 5S144
Washington, DC 20226

The Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) regulates the permanent export, temporary import and temporary export of rifles and handguns, plus ammunition. If you want to temporarily import/export or permanently export rifles, handguns and ammunition, you must either obtain a license from DDTC or qualify for a license exemption under 22 CFR 123.17 or 123.18. The export of shotguns and buckshot is controlled under the Bureau of Industry and Security's Export Administration Regulations.

Many countries will not allow you to enter with a firearm even if you are only traveling through the country on the way to your final destination. If you plan to take your firearms or ammunition to another country, you should contact officials at that country's embassy to learn about its regulations.

Fish and Wildlife

Certain fish and wildlife, and products made from them, are subject to import and export restrictions, prohibitions, permits or certificates, as well as requirements. CBP recommends that you contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before you depart if you plan to import or export any of the following:

  • Wild birds, land or marine mammals, reptiles, fish, shellfish, mollusks or invertebrates;
  • Any part or product of the above, such as skins, tusks, bone, feathers, or eggs; or
  • Products or articles manufactured from wildlife or fish.

Endangered wildlife species, and products made from them, generally may not be imported or exported. You will need a permit from the FWS to import virtually all types of ivory, unless it is from a warthog. The FWS has many restrictions and prohibitions on various kinds of ivory - Asian elephant, African elephant, whale, rhinoceros, seal, pre-Endangered Species Act, post-CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and many others - and urge you to contact them before you acquire ivory in a foreign country. You may contact the Management Authority at 1-800-358-2104. Pressing Option 3 will provide you with general information, and Option 4 will connect you to the permits section. You can also get information on permits at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service web site.

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. You will need documentation that authenticates the age of the ivory. You may import other antiques containing wildlife parts with the same condition, but they must be accompanied by documentation proving they are at least 100 years old. Certain other requirements for antiques may apply.

If you plan to buy such things as tortoiseshell jewelry, or articles made from whalebone, ivory, skins or fur, contact the:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 3247
Arlington, VA 22203-3247

You can also call 1-800-358-2104 or visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site. Hunters can get information on the limitations for importing and exporting migratory game birds from this office as well or from the Migratory Birds page.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated specific ports of entry to handle fish and wildlife entries. If you plan to import anything discussed in this section, please contact CBP about designated ports and the brochure Pets and Wildlife, which describes the regulations CBP enforces for all agencies that oversee the importation of animals.

Some states have fish and wildlife laws and regulations that are stricter than federal laws and regulations. If you are returning to such a state, be aware that the stricter state laws and regulations have priority. Similarly, the federal government does not allow you to import wild animals into the United States that were taken, killed, sold, possessed or exported from another country if any of these acts violated foreign laws.

Food Products (Prepared)

You may bring bakery items and certain cheeses into the United States. The APHIS Web site features a Travelers Tips section and Game and Hunting Trophies section that offers extensive information about bringing food and other products into the U.S. Many prepared foods are admissible. However, bush meat made from African wildlife and almost anything containing meat products, such as bouillon, soup mixes, etc., is not admissible. As a general rule, condiments, vinegars, oils, packaged spices, honey, coffee and tea are admissible. Because rice can often harbor insects, it is best to avoid bringing it into the United States. Some imported foods are also subject to requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Prior Notice for Food Importation

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act or BTA), Public Law 107-188, established the requirement that food items, imported (or offered for import) for commercial use, including hand-carried quantities, be properly reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prior to arrival of those items in the United States. The FDA prior notification timeframes (by transport mode) are two hours by land, four hours by rail or air, eight hours by vessel and prior to the "time of mailing" for international mail.

Food that was made by an individual in his/her personal residence, or food purchased by an individual from a vendor that is sent by that individual as a personal gift (for non-business reasons) to someone in the United States is not subject to Bioterrorism Act requirements. However, food that is sent to an individual in the United States by a business is subject to special requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For instance, if you go to a food shop in England and buy a gift basket, then take it to the post office or a courier service to send to a friend, the shipment is not subject to BTA requirements. But if you go to that same shop and ask them to send the gift basket for you, the shipment is subject to BTA requirements, and the vendor will have to file Prior Notice. Many travelers are finding that vendors will not ship food directly to U.S. residents because the reporting requirements can be time-consuming to complete.

In general, failure to provide complete, timely and accurate prior notice for Bioterrorism Act regulated items, can result in refusal of admission of the merchandise, movement of the goods to an FDA registered facility (at importer expense) and/or civil monetary penalty liabilities for any party that was involved in the import transaction.

For full details regarding the latest FDA requirements, including those food items exempt from these requirements, access the FDA's Counterterrorism-Related Legislation page.

Fruits and Vegetables

Bringing fruits and vegetables depends on a number of factors. For instance, consider the apple you bought in the foreign airport just before boarding and then did not eat. Whether or not CBP will allow the apple into the United States depends on where you got it and where you are going after you arrive in the United States. The same would be true for Mediterranean tomatoes. Such factors are important because fresh fruits and vegetables can introduce plant pests or diseases into the United States.

One good example of problems imported fruits and vegetables can cause is the Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak during the 1980s. The outbreak cost the state of California and the federal government approximately $100 million to get rid of this pest. The cause of the outbreak was one traveler who brought home one contaminated piece of fruit. It is best not to bring fresh fruits or vegetables into the United States. However, if you plan to, contact either CBP or check the Permits section on the USDA-APHIS Web site for a general approved list on items that need a permit.

Note: The civil penalty for failing to declare agricultural items at U.S. ports of entry will cost first time offenders $300. The penalty for the second violation goes up to $500. To avoid receiving a penalthy all agricultural items and present them to Customs and Border Protection for inspection so that an agriculture specialist can determine if it is admissible.

Game and Hunting Trophies

Information on bringing back your game or hunting trophy can be found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Information on Hunting and Fishing page.  Currently, 14 ports of entry are designated to handle game and trophies; other ports must get approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to clear your entry.

Depending on the species you bring back, you might need a permit from the country where the animal was harvested. Regardless of the species, you are required to fill out a Fish and Wildlife Form 3-177, Declaration for Importation or Exportation.

Trophies may also be subject to inspection by CBP for sanitary purposes. General guidelines for importing trophies can be found on under the APHIS Import Authorization System (IAS) on the Guidelines for the Importation of Ruminant, Swine, and Bird Trophies page, or by writing to:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
APHIS, VS, NCIE Products Program
4700 River Road, Unit 40
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231

You can also call (301) 734-3277.

Nonhuman primate trophy materials may require a permit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prospective importers of nonhuman primate trophy materials from nonhuman primates should review the permit requirements and complete an application form, following the Guidance for Individuals Wishing to Import Non-Human Primate Trophies, Skins or Skulls.  Trophy materials of other animals under import embargo because of viral zoonotic infections, such as civets, Asian birds, and African rodents, may be imported if the body has been sufficiently processed to render it non-infectious. Proper methods of accomplishing this include:

  • Heating to an internal temperature of 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) or placing in boiling water for a minimum of 30 minutes);
  • Preservation in 2 percent formaldehyde;
  • Chemically treating in acidic or alkaline solutions (soaking in a solution below pH 3.0 or above pH 11.5 for 24 hours); or
  • The use of hypertonic salts.

Also, federal regulations do not allow the importation of any species into a state with fish or wildlife laws that are more restrictive than federal laws. If foreign laws were violated in the taking, sale, possession or export to the United States of wild animals, those animals will not be allowed entry into the United States.

Warning: There are many regulations, enforced by various agencies, governing the importation of animals and animal parts. Failure to comply with them could result in time-consuming delays in clearing your trophy through CBP. You should always call for guidance before you depart.

Gold

Gold coins, medals and bullion, formerly prohibited, may be brought into the United States. However, under regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, such items originating in or brought from Cuba, Iran, Burma (Myanmar) and most of Sudan are prohibited entry. Copies of gold coins are prohibited if not properly marked by country of issuance.

Haitian Animal Hide Drums

Haitian goat hide drums have been previously linked to a case of cutaneous anthrax, and the CDC restricts entry of animal hide drums from Haiti if they have not been processed in a way that renders them non-infectious. Travelers should be aware that untanned animal hide drums from Africa may pose a similar but low risk for cutaneous anthrax.

Meats, Livestock and PoultryThe regulations governing meat and meat products are stringent. You may not import fresh, dried or canned meats or meat products from most foreign countries into the United States. Also, you may not import food products that have been prepared with meat.

The regulations on importing meat and meat products change frequently because they are based on disease outbreaks in different areas of the world. APHIS, which regulates meats and meat products as well as fruits and vegetables, invites you to contact them for more information on importing meats. A list of countries and/or regions with specific livestock or poultry diseases can be found at the Animal Disease Status page.

Medication

Rule of thumb: When you go abroad, take the medicines you will need, no more, no less. Narcotics and certain other drugs with a high potential for abuse - Rohypnol, GHB and Fen-Phen, to name a few - may not be brought into the United States, and there are severe penalties for trying to do so. If you need medicines that contain potentially addictive drugs or narcotics (e.g., some cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants or stimulants), do the following:

  • Declare all drugs, medicinals, and similar products to the appropriate CBP official;
  • Carry such substances in their original containers;
  • Carry only the quantity of such substances that a person with that condition (e.g., chronic pain) would normally carry for his/her personal use; and
  • Carry a prescription or written statement from your physician that the substances are being used under a doctor's supervision and that they are necessary for your physical well being while traveling.

U.S. residents entering the United States at international land borders who are carrying a validly obtained controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD), are subject to certain additional requirements. If a U.S. resident wants to bring in a controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD) but does not have a prescription for the substance issued by a U.S.-licensed practitioner (e.g., physician, dentist, etc.) who is registered with, and authorized by, the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe the medication, the individual may not import more than 50 dosage units of the medication into the United States. If the U.S. resident has a prescription for the controlled substance issued by a DEA registrant, more than 50 dosage units may be imported by that person, provided all other legal requirements are met.

Please note that only medications that can be legally prescribed in the United States may be imported for personal use. Be aware that possession of certain substances may also violate state laws. As a general rule, the FDA does not allow the importation of prescription drugs that were purchased outside the United States. Please see their Web site for information about the enforcement policy for personal use quantities.

Warning: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits the importation, by mail or in person, of fraudulent prescription and nonprescription drugs and medical devices. These include unorthodox "cures" for such medical conditions as cancer, AIDS, arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Although such drugs or devices may be legal elsewhere, if the FDA has not approved them for use in the United States, they may not legally enter the country and will be confiscated, even if they were obtained under a foreign physician's prescription.

Additional information about traveling with and importing medication can be found at the FDA's Drugs page.

The FDA is responsible for pharmaceutical admissibility determinations. If you have any questions as to whether a specific pharmaceutical may be imported into the United States, please contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, at (301) 796-0356.

If you have any questions regarding the importation of a controlled substance into the United States, please contact the Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control, International Drug Unit, at (202) 305-8800.

Merchandise from Embargoed Countries

Generally, you may not bring in any merchandise from Cuba, Iran, Burma (Myanmar) or most of Sudan. The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury enforces economic sanctions against these countries. To bring in merchandise from these countries, you will first need a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Such licenses are rarely granted. You can write to the:

Office of Foreign Assets Control
Department of the Treasury
Washington, DC 20220

These regulations do change from time to time, so it is suggested that you contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control before traveling to these countries to determine what may or may not be brought back.

Exceptions:

  • You may, however, bring from any of these countries information and informational materials - books, magazines, films, posters, photographs, microfilms, tapes, CDs, records, works of art, etc. Blank tapes and blank CDs are not informational materials.

    Gifts of up to $100 (U.S.) in value.

  • Household and personal effects, of persons arriving in the United States that were actually used abroad by the importer or by other family members arriving from the same foreign household, that are not intended for any other person or for sale, and that are not otherwise prohibited from importation, and

  • Accompanied baggage from personal use normally incident to travel.

  • Allowed importations of merchandise from Sudan include gifts of up to $100 (U.S.) in value.

  • Importations of merchandise from Sudan are generally allowed if acquired directly from these parts of Sudan: Southern Sudan, Southern Kordofan/Nuba Mountains State, Blue Nile State, Abyei, Darfur, and certain marginalized areas in and around Khartoum. (Note that such merchandise may not be commercially shipped through Khartoum, Port Sudan or other areas of Sudan that remain subject to sanctions.)

  • There are non-comprehensive embargo programs administered by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control with respect to the following regions, countries or entities: Western Balkans; Belarus, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq (for cultural property), Liberia (Former Regime of Charles Taylor), Sierra Leone, Syria, Zimbabwe, and Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or its Democratic Processes and Institutions.

OFAC also administers programs that target individuals and entities wherever they are located. Those programs currently relate to foreign narcotics traffickers, foreign terrorists, and Weapons of Mass Destruction proliferators. See OFAC's Website for a list of those persons and entities.

There are some travel restrictions with respect to certain embargoed countries. You should check the Sanctions Programs page to determine which countries are subject to travel restrictions before making any plans to visit these countries.

Pets

If you plan to take your pet abroad or import one on your return, please review a copy of the CBP brochure Pets and Wildlife. You should also check with state, county and local authorities to learn if their restrictions and prohibitions on pets are stricter than federal requirements.

Importing animals is closely regulated for public health reasons and also for the well-being of the animals. There are restrictions and prohibitions on bringing many species into the United States.

Cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner's expense might be required at the port of entry.

Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination.

All pet cats arriving in the state of Hawaii and the territory of Guam, even from the U.S. mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements.

Dogs must also be free of evidence of diseases that could be communicable to humans. A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet dogs into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. Dogs must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies greater than or equal to 30 days prior to entry into the United States. This certificate should identify the dog, show the date of vaccination, the date it expires (there are one-year and three-year vaccinations), and be signed by a licensed veterinarian. If the certificate does not have an expiration date, CBP will accept it as long as the dog was vaccinated 12 months or less before coming to the United States. Dogs coming from rabies free countries do not have to be vaccinated.

These requirements apply equally to service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs.

If your pet does not meet CDC's entry requirements as described above, contact CDC at CDCAnimalImports@cdc.gov to discuss your particular situation.

 Birds may be imported as pets as long as you comply with APHIS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife requirements.

Advisory: Until further notice, there is a temporary ban on the importation of pet birds from countries/ regions affected with highly pathogenic Avian influenza subtype H5NI. See the Animal and Animal Product Import Information page for more information.

All non-U.S. origin pet birds imported into the United States (except from Canada) are required to be quarantined for 30 days in a USDA animal import quarantine facility at the owner's expense. A reservation at the facility must be made in advance by contacting the USDA port veterinarian at one of the special ports of entry listed below. A cost estimate for the quarantine will be provided at that time. Once the reservation is made and payment is received in full for all quarantine services, the animal import quarantine facility will issue a USDA import permit (VS Form17-129). This permit must accompany the bird while in transit.

The USDA defines pet birds as those that are imported for personal pleasure of their individual owners and are not intended for resale.

Document and Quarantine Requirements:

  • USDA import permit (VS Form17-129);
  • Current Health Certificate issued by a full-time salaried veterinarian of the agency responsible for animal health of the national government in the exporting country of origin;
  • 30-day Quarantine in an USDA Animal Import Center; and
  • Fish and Wildlife Services Certification (if necessary).

USDA Quarantine Centers and Ports of Entry

All non-U.S. origin pet birds must enter the country and undergo quarantine at one of the following import quarantine facilities.

These are the only ports of entry available for importing non-U.S. origin pet birds.

New York City
230-59 Rockaway Blvd., Suite 101
Jamaica, NY 11413
Telephone: (718) 553-1727
Fax: (718) 553-7543Miami Animal Import Center
USDA-APHIS-VS
6300 NW 36 Street
Miami, FL 33122
Telephone: (305) 526-2926
Fax: (305) 526-2929Los Angeles
Los Angeles International Airport
11850 South La Cienega Blvd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250
Telephone: (310) 725-1970
Fax: (310) 725-9119

For additional information visit the APHIS Animal Health page.

Other common pets such as rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs may be imported if they are in good health. The importation of reptiles and invertebrates is restricted; please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for additional guidance. Most species of snails are not admissible. Contact APHIS for additional information. All civets, African rodents and nonhuman primates are prohibited except for science, education and exhibition. These species cannot be imported as pets. Refer to the CDC's Traveling with Pets, Importation of Animals and Animal Products into the United States page for more information.

Photographic Film

CBP will not examine film you bought abroad and are bringing back unless the CBP officer has reason to believe it contains prohibited material, such as child pornography.

You will not be charged duty on film bought in the United States and exposed abroad, whether it is developed or not. But film you bought and developed abroad counts as a dutiable item.

Plants and Seeds

Some plants, cuttings, seeds that are capable of propagation, unprocessed plant products and certain endangered species are allowed into the United States but require import permits and other documents; some are prohibited entirely. Threatened or endangered species that are permitted must have export permits from the country of origin.

Every single plant or plant product including handicraft items made with straw, must be declared to the CBP officer and must be presented for CBP inspection, no matter how free of pests it appears to be. For information on importing plants or plant products visit the Plant, Organism and Soil Permits page.

Soil

Soil is considered the loose surface material of the earth in which plants, trees, and scrubs grow. In most cases, the soil consists of disintegrated rock with an admixture of organic material and soluble salts. Soil is prohibited entry unless accompanied by an import permit. Soil must be declared and the permit must be verified.

Textiles and Clothing

In general, there is no limit to how much fabric and clothing you can bring back as long as it is for your personal use or as gifts. If you have exceeded your personal exemption, you may have to pay duty on the items. Unaccompanied personal shipments (packages that are mailed or shipped), however, may be subject to limitations on amount.

On January 1, 2005, quotas for all countries that are part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were eliminated. There are still some countries, like Vietnam, that are not part of the WTO that have quotas in place for commercial shipments. These countries may require an additional document called a "visa" accompany the shipment.

China could have limits on particular garments called "safeguards." It is recommended that you contact a CBP import specialist in your area or at the port where you plan to import to determine what countries are subject to quotas and what products from China are subject to safeguards.

There may be additional documentation required for textiles from other countries such as the African countries that require a visa to be placed on a commercial invoice in order to get duty-free treatment. There may also be a certificate of eligibility document requirement to get duty-free treatment under many of the free trade agreements that are negotiated between the United States and the foreign government. These are not admissibility documents, but allow you to import your garments duty-free, provided certain conditions are met.

Trademarked and Copyrighted Articles

CBP enforces laws relating to the protection of trademarks and copyrights. Articles that infringe a federally registered trademark or copyright or copyright protected by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works are subject to detention and/ or seizure. Infringing articles may consist of articles that use a protected right without the authorization of the trademark or copyright owner or articles that copy or simulate a protected right.

Articles bearing marks that are counterfeit or inappropriately using a federally registered trademark are subject to seizure and forfeiture. The importation of articles intended for sale or public distribution bearing counterfeit marks may subject an individual to a civil fine if the registered trademark has also been recorded with CBP. Articles bearing marks that are confusingly similar to a CBP recorded registered trademark, and restricted gray market articles (goods bearing genuine marks not intended for U.S. importation for which CBP granted gray market protection) are subject to detention and seizure.

However, travelers arriving in the United States may be permitted an exemption and allowed to import one article of each type, which must accompany the person, bearing a counterfeit, confusingly similar or restricted gray market trademark, provided that the article is for personal use and is not for sale.

This exemption may be granted not more than once every 30 days. The arriving passenger may retain one article of each type accompanying the person. For example, an arriving person who has three purses, whether each bears a different infringing trademark, or whether all three bear the same infringing trademark, is permitted only one purse. If the article imported under the personal exemption provision is sold within one year after the date of importation, the article or its value is subject to forfeiture.

In regard to copyright infringement, articles that are determined by CBP to be clearly piratical of a protected copyright, i.e., unauthorized articles that are substantially similar to a material protected by a copyright, are subject to seizure. A personal use exemption for articles, similar to that described above also applies to copyrighted articles for the personal, non-commercial use of the importer and are not for sale or distribution.

You may bring back genuine trademarked and copyrighted articles (subject to duties). Products subject to copyright protection most commonly imported include software on CD-ROMs, sound recordings, toys, stuffed animals, clothing with cartoon characters, videotapes, DVDs, music CDs and books. Products subject to trademark protection most commonly imported include handbags and accessories, and clothing.