Our travel to the European Union from the United States seems like a long time ago, but we’ve recently traveled within the EU, and one of our daughters is coming to visit this week. As such, we’ve been getting chummy with customs regulations. It can be a bit frustrating, as information isn’t necessarily presented in an easy-to-follow manner, so I’ve gathered a collection of helpful tips for you, should you have occasion to plan international travel in the future. Just passing along hard-won knowledge.
If you’re coming into the US:
You can’t bring in Byzantine period ritual and ecclesiastic objects, but you’ll be relieved to know that you don’t need a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service if the ivory you’re importing is from a warthog.
You’re not going to get past US customs with either bush meat or absinthe.
You may need a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit and/or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention permit to import excretions, fungi, or arthropods.
You’re going to get grief for bouillon and soup mixes because of prohibition on meat trafficking.
Importing hunting trophies of African rodents is allowed if the body has been “sufficiently processed to render it non-infectious.”
You’ll have trouble trying to bring in Haitian goat hide drums, and any kind of drum (or anything at all) from Cuba, Iran, Myanmar or most of Sudan.
If you feel you need more information, the website of US Customs and Border protection provides many handy links, including a page on “Guidelines for the Importation of Ruminant, Swine and Bird Trophies” that you can study at your leisure.
Now, if you’re traveling to the EU:
You can have with you up to 20 kilos (44 lbs) of dead oysters. If they’re still alive the limit is 2 kilos. I guess we can be glad that the regulations go the direction that they do–if it were reversed, and you could bring more live than dead ones, imagine the pressure to nurture those little critters along, making sure none of them shuffled off this mortal coil (or that nobbly half shell) while you traveled!
If you want to bring potatoes or quince, don’t even think about it without a phytosanitary certificate.
Your limit is three when it comes to dead seahorses and dead giant clams, so plan accordingly.
I imagine you’ll be able to rest easier knowing these things; we all want to avoid being traumatized at the airport. Knowing this, it pains me to have to share this last line from the website where I did much of my research:
“ATTENTION! The list of prohibited and restricted goods is not complete.”
To this we can only reply, “thanks a bunch.”