Yachting Abroad: 5 Highly Restricted Souvenirs by US Customs

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not mess around when it comes to the importation of merchandise from foreign countries. They have a vast list of items that are either prohibited or restricted in some way, and it can be incredibly difficult to stay up to date on the often changing rules and regulations.

If you’re like most people, when you travel abroad you like to collect souvenirs. Whatever you collect, however, will likely be subject to intense scrutiny from CBP. Below is a list of five highly regulated and restricted souvenirs that all yachters should be aware of when traveling abroad. These items are particularly difficult to bring back to the United States, and will require extra permits and actions if they are even allowed at all.

1) Merchandise from Embargoed Countries

There are several countries in the world against which, for various reasons, the US government has instituted comprehensive embargoes, meaning bans on trade. These countries include Myanmar, Iran, most of Sudan, and despite recent efforts to improve relations, Cuba. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to bring any products back from these countries when you return to the US. With a few exceptions—such as informational materials like books and photographs—Customs usually requires a rarely issued license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in order to allow merchandise from these countries to be brought into the US. In addition to these comprehensive embargoes, some countries and locales have item-specific embargoes, such as cultural artifacts from Iraq. This brings us to our next point…

2) Cultural Artifacts

Antiquities and other artifacts of cultural significance are highly restricted and it can be incredibly difficult to get them through CBP. This is due in large part to the fact that the illegal antiquities trade is major business around the world, and the government restricts these items in order to help prevent the act of plunder and avoid the importation of black market goods into the US. If at any point in an artifact’s history it was illegally obtained, the US government will not recognize your legal title to the item. The only way to bring such artifacts into the country is with a clearly legal export permit from the country in question, and even then it can be a major challenge.

3) Fruits and Vegetables

Ecosystems can be incredibly fragile, and various pests and diseases can be carried on perishable items like fruits and vegetables from other countries. CBP cites the costly 1980 Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in California as an example of the dangers of bringing unregulated fruits or vegetables into the US. If you plan to bring any sort of fruits or vegetables back to the US from another country, you will almost certainly need a permit and your bounty will likely require inspection by US authorities.

4) Plants and seeds

Gardening enthusiasts beware, as with fruits and vegetables, all forms of plant life from other countries are highly regulated by Customs. CBP must inspect every individual plant or plant product to ensure there are no pests or invasive species. They also keep a sharp watch out for threatened or endangered species, most of which require a legal export permit from the country of origin.

5) Alcohol

When you travel abroad by air, it is usually difficult to bring back enough alcohol to cause any sort of issues with Customs simply due to a lack of space. However, when you yacht abroad, you usually have more than enough space to exceed legal import limits on alcoholic beverages. The limits and other regulations regarding your ability to bring alcohol back to the US will depend on on the laws of the state at which you plan to enter the country.

Howard S. Reeder, Inc is a family-operated Customs Brokerage with over 75 years of experience helping people like you legally import merchandise into the US. Whether your business relies on importation, or you are a recreational yachter looking to bring souvenirs and other items back with you following travels abroad, we can guide you and assist in the paperwork needed to ensure legal compliance. Give us a call today to learn more.

Howard S Reeder Inc