What Can I Bring Back From Vacation?
The duty free shop at the airport beckons you while you await your flight. Rows and rows of liquor bottles and various perfumes and cosmetics from which to choose. Bringing some rum home would make your vacation complete, right? The price on that bottle of perfume is a fraction of what you spend for it at Nordstrom, how can you not take advantage of that?
But, wait! What can you legally (and without paying duty) bring back into the United States?
Lucky for you, the Customs and Border Patrol puts all of the information on a handy website so you’ll be able to take full advantage of duty free shopping.
http://www.cbp.gov is the online home of the US Customs and Border Patrol. The travel section is especially helpful. There’s even a whole page for if you’re traveling to Mexico.
The high points:
1. You can bring home $800.00 per person of merchandise or gifts which can include up to one liter of alcohol. (Only people over 21 can bring in the liter of alcohol. So, for instance, if you’re traveling with your husband and your 5 year old, you can bring in a liter, your husband can bring in a liter, but your 5 year old cannot.)
2. You can’t bring in any fruit or meat products. So, don’t fill your carry on with the fruit from that fruit basket that was in your room. Don’t panic if you forgot to eat that last apple you brought back to eat on the plane. As long as you declare and surrender it, you’re fine. The CBP will destroy that apple for you.
3. No Cuban cigars. (Really, no Cuban anything. Except maybe Mark Cuban.)
4. No product of an endangered species. (That crocodile wallet, or that elephant tusk chess set for instance.)
5. No illegal drugs. (Like you would do that anyway.)
The Customs and Border Patrol has even put together a handy dandy guide with all of the information about what you can bring back. (There are many more details beyond what I’ve listed here.) You can access the guide called “Know Before You Go” by clicking here:
On the same page there’s a publication called “Top 10 Tips for Travelers”. Check that out too.
As long as I’m writing about the Customs and Border Patrol, I must put a plug in for Global Entry. You’ll find that on the same website under “Trusted Traveler Programs”. If you travel out of the country more than once or twice a year, consider signing up for Global Entry. The application fee is $100.00 and, if you’re accepted, it allows you to bypass the lines in the immigration and in customs when you arrive back into the US from out of the country. (Not at every airport, but only airports that have the Global Entry kiosks. Most of the airports where you’d arrive on an international flight have the kiosks.)
There is a screening and a pretty through background check, so keep that in mind if that sort of thing creeps you out. I joined Global Entry a few months ago and it has already saved me hours of waiting in line.