You can’t bring that in here.

Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons The mighty warthog

We’re headed off on a trip today.* In figuring out what we ought to pack, I was reminded of my earlier research on customs regulations, and decided to go back and have a look. At one point I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what you can take where. As it happens, none of the items listed here were on my current “should we or shouldn’t we?” list, but I bring them forward in case any of them are on yours.


If you’re traveling to the USA:

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.

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.

the arthropod Phyllobius calcaratus, Richard Bartz, Wikimedia Commons

Importing hunting trophies of African rodents is allowed if the body has been “sufficiently processed to render it non-infectious.”

You’re going to get grief for bouillon and soup mixes because of a prohibition on meat trafficking.


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 would doubtless have piles of fascinating facts.

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!

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.”

[Images: Wikipedia, Pinterest]

*I always feel tempted to use the term junket, but I’m actually never involved in one. I talked about it here.

†Given that Cuba and the US are trying to get along better, that is likely to be changing, though I don’t know how much or how soon.

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