You can’t bring that in here.

Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons

Warthog, Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons

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:


Michael the Archangel, 13th century

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.

the arthropod Phyllobius calcaratus, Richard Bartz, Wikimedia Commons

the arthropod Phyllobius calcaratus, Richard Bartz, Wikimedia Commons

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:

800px-Briny_BeachYou 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!


Jonathan Zander, Wikimedia Commons

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.”


4 thoughts on “You can’t bring that in here.

  1. When my friend goes to visit her mother and sister in Japan, she always brings back the BEST cookies… I’m glad our country doesn’t bar those. (and good to know the regulations, because what if some hungry customs guy saw the sweets and suddenly made up a reason to keep your shortbread?) But she said she’s tried ramen packages, and sometimes the customs people let it slide, and other times they confiscate it – it has some sort of bullion. Now really, just how much real meat is in a pkg of top ramen??

    • Isn’t that the irony of it. Maybe it’s a secret ploy–I know, to convince people it has a relationship with something besides salt, we’ll ban importation under rules governing something we want people to think of when they eat it!

  2. When my husband flew into this country the first time, there was a woman in the customs line behind him with what appeared to be a stuffed chicken. Not stuffed in the cooked sense, but in the preserved sense. She held up her stuffed chicken to my husband and asked if he thought customs would let her through with it, since she was a taxidermist…….My husband has never been certain if he was hallucinating – it had been a very long flight!

  3. Pingback: Lori Notes turns 100 | Lori Notes

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