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CBP Issues Holiday International Travel Advice

Release Date: 
April 6, 2012

Baltimore - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) advises travelers who are planning to fly through international getaways during the coming Easter and Passover holiday breaks to take steps now that can help speed up their international arrivals processing.

"First and foremost, make sure you have the right travel and identity documents and required forms completed accurately. Secondly, know what things you can and cannot bring into the United States. Our travel website can help," said Michael Lovejoy, Director of CBP's Baltimore Field Office, which manages operations from Southern New Jersey to Northern Virginia. "An ounce of knowledge is worth more than a pound of frustration at abandoning products that are prohibited from entering the United States."

The Baltimore Field Office comprises the Ports of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pa., Pittsburgh, Wilmington, Del., Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The three primary airports for scheduled international commercial flights are Washington Dulles International Airport (more than 3.2 million international passengers and crew arrivals during fiscal year 2011), Philadelphia International Airport (about 1.7 million) and Baltimore Washington International Airport (about 260,000).

Before embarking on an international trip, CBP encourages all U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to visit its "Know Before You Go" web page. Additional information for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals visiting the U.S. can be found at the CBP Travel page.

Five most common prohibited or inadmissible products:

Obviously, illicit narcotics are illegal and clearly prohibited from entering the United States, and the Baltimore Field Office's three primary international airports have recorded a fair amount of illicit narcotics seizures. So, the following list the five most common inadmissible products, other than narcotics, that travelers abandon or that CBP officers or agriculture specialists seize.

1. Plant and animal products - fruits, vegetables, palm hats, and wooden artwork may provide a vehicle for plant diseases and/or insect hitchhikers that could pose a potentially devastating impact on America's agriculture industries. And animal products, particularly from continents that have previously experienced some type of animal disease, pose potential threats to our nation's livestock industry. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture  website for animal import prohibitions. Generally, the fruit you picked up at the foreign hotel restaurant that morning, and the sandwich or pizza you purchased at the foreign airport before boarding your flight may likely be prohibited entering from the U.S.

2. Currency/Monetary Instruments - narcotics, terror and other nefarious organizations like to conceal and export their illicit proceeds to their home bases in other regions of the world, and so currency verification is one of CBP's primary enforcement operations. There is no limit to how much money anyone can import to, or export from the United States, and travelers won't be taxed or pay duties on monetary instruments; however travelers must truthfully declare all monetary instruments of $10,000 or greater in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency. Travelers who fail to honestly declare the full sum of their monetary instruments risk losing their money and may potentially face federal currency reporting charges.

3. Counterfeit merchandise - brand name "knock off" clothing and accessories, electrical equipment and tools, and children's toys are some examples of commercial goods that hurt American business profits, costs American workers jobs, and potentially injure American consumers. Consumer and trademark protection is a CBP priority trade enforcement mission. See more on CBP's Intellectual Property Rights enforcement website.

4. Cuban cigars, Iran jewelry - The Treasure Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions the importation of commodities from certain countries.

5. Prescription medications - The U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the importation of unapproved new drugs, which includes prescription medications not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States. Generally, travelers should carry just enough prescription medications that they will need for the duration of their trip, and must keep the medications in clearly marked prescription medication vials. Travelers should also possess a prescription by a licensed U.S. medical practitioner for the medicines.

CBP travel tips for international travelers:

  • Tip #1 - Be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad in writing on your Customs Declaration form and verbally to the CBP officer during your primary arrivals inspection. Also, be sure to complete your Customs Declaration form before getting into the primary inspection line. That will save you and your fellow travelers time to catch any connecting flights.
  • Tip #2 - Know what you can and cannot bring into the United States before boarding your flight home by visiting CBP's "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP website.
  • Tip #3 - Know the difference between goods for personal use versus commercial use. For more details, visit Restricted/Prohibited Goods for All Travelers website.
  • Tip # 4 - International airports, even though miles away from a physical border, are still an international border crossing to flights arriving from overseas. International travelers should expect a thorough inspection process, even during busy holiday periods. CBP officers are authorized to conduct enforcement examinations, ranging from checking luggage to a personal search, without a warrant.
  • Tip #5 - If you are a frequent cross-border traveler and haven't already become a member of a trusted traveler program, sign up now. Trusted Travelers enjoy the benefits of expedited arrivals processing which means less time standing in lengthy inspection lines. Visit CBP's trusted traveler website for more information.

Knowing the keys to quickly clearing through a Customs and Border Protection arrivals inspection can get you home faster.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017