What do I Need to Know About US Customs Regulations?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2019
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One of the best things about traveling abroad is that you have the opportunity to visit foreign markets, shops, and shopping centers and peruse goods that are not available or easy to find at home. While many travelers revel in treasures that they have found while shopping abroad, it is important to understand customs regulations before you make any purchases. There are some items that, upon entry into the United States, might incur hefty fines or even be seized from the traveler based on the United States Customs Regulations.

Before making any purchases abroad, be sure to familiarize yourself with the United States Customs Regulations. You can find all of the information that you need at : Here, you will be able to read up on information regarding required declarations, duty free items and information on prohibited and restricted goods. Many travelers have items shipped home from them by their hotel or directly at the stores where they purchase their items.

There are also customs regulations on this process which you can read about at the aforementioned website. A very helpful page within that site is the “Know Before You Go” page: In addition, be sure to simply use your common sense. Anything that is potentially hazardous, dangerous, or illegal within the United States will likely land you in trouble with a customs official upon your return home.


Upon your return trip home, your airline or cruise ship will provide you with a customs declaration slip to fill out and present to the customs officials when you reenter the country. It is helpful to keep all of your receipts and sales slips in one place so that you can fill out this document accurately. You will be asked to declare the following types of items:

1. Gifts that you were given during your trip as well as any gifts that you received.
2. Anything that you purchased and shipped to your home or business during your trip.
3. Items purchased in duty-free stores.
4. Anything that you plan to resell within the US.
5. Any items that you gained as inheritance during your trip.

In addition to understanding the regulations about what you can and cannot bring back with you from vacation, it is also helpful to know a bit about United States Customs procedures. Although it is not always the most comfortable of procedures, customs officials do have the right to search both your luggage and your person upon reentry into the United States. These searches are meant to halt, or at least diminish, the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband items into the country. Many people who make regular international trips are never searched. However, it is important to know that being searched is a possibility. It is also important to comply with customs officials.


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