What NOT to take

Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann writes regularly for 111 Travel Directory - Adult Escapes - and 1000 Travel Tips - as well as several other websites.

Planning to travel abroad? Leave these items at home!

Leaving the Figueroa

Anyone who travels regularly is aware of luggage and carry-on restrictions post 9-11. However, if you travel abroad, there are other considerations to keep in mind. No foreign country wants undesirable insects, rodents, or diseases to infiltrate their population via border crossings.

Before reading further, remember that if you have outstanding police warrants or a criminal record, you should probably forget about foreign travel. Period.

What NOT to take with you

Regulations vary by country. The snacks you pack for a domestic flight may not pass customs inspection for an overseas destination. Start with a good dose of 'common sense' and you will quickly realize why most of the items on the following list are not permitted:

- Beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages that have been opened

- Pets without appropriate vaccination certificates

- Native wildlife

- Weapons - or toys and other items that look like weapons

- Big game bagged while on your safari or hunting trip

- Prescription drugs without an accompanying doctor's prescription

- Drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements with unreadable labels

- Illegal drugs or paraphernalia - *DEATH PENALTY* in some countries

- Potted houseplants, seeds, soil, pebbles, or sand

- Natural products like seashells, pieces of coral reef, whalebone

- Uncooked pork, poultry, beef, and other meat or animal products

- Unprocessed or uncooked vegetables, fruits, tubers, roots, etc.

- Hay, straw, oats, and similar items

- Any other natural products that may harbor diseases or pests

- Fireworks and incendiary devices

- Clothing and souvenirs manufactured with any of the above products

Some prohibited articles may be allowed with appropriate permits or certification. If you don't know for sure - don't pack them or bring them back home with you.

What you MUST take with you

Imagine your charging should you go through customs on your return trip and discover that you must pay duty on your laptop computer, digital camera, and jewelry - even though you purchased them in your own country prior to your trip. Yes, it can - and does - happen. Protect yourself!

Pack copies of documents such as sales receipts, credit card statements, insurance policies, and appraisals for all valuable items to prove ownership and purchase date - especially for anything that looks like new.

No receipts or paperwork? Take a picture of each item next to a newspaper that plainly displays a readable date. Note the serial number(s) with each photo. Keep all photos and paperwork in a safe place along with your passport and other important documents. They will be invaluable when you fill in customs declarations - both leaving and returning.

Do your homework

Spend some time doing research on the internet before you travel. You should be able to find a government or embassy website that provides the regulations online. Do searches such as:

- customs regulations France

- customs regulations Spain

- customs regulations Brazil

- customs regulations USA

Advance investigation may save you considerable time, money, and effort as you pass through each border crossing.

Be aware! The resulting peace of mind will make your holiday much more enjoyable.

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  • Laura_actually says
    It is no wonder then, that so many people are surprised when customs stop them! That's a long list.
  • Bernadette says
    This is handy to know! Ive never been overseas before but last night I had a dream I did! :p. I find that illegal drugs thing quite obvious..Who would be silly enough to put them in your bags and DEATH PENALTY! I am definitely put off going to any country that does death penalty...thats not fair! Because I am sure that someone would not be silly enough to do anything like that, it would be someone that would pop them in there bag....therefore, I am put off going overseas to countries that do stuff like death penalty. Scary stuff! Never knew about the things that you should take with you....Paying duty for what youve already purchased....ahhhhh so much to remember!
  • Carena says
    It's also a really good idea to double check what the limits are for bringing alcohol purchases into certain countries- Many countries have a restriction of one bottle of spirits per person when you enter (especially around the middle east) and the Duty Free Stores will not tell you, meaning that some people get purchases confiscated from them at customs. It's always a good idea to research the duty free restrictions of each country you are going to visit!
  • twisty_mist says
    I've had hiccups with customs before and its HORRIBLE! Stick to the rules, you'll be sorry otherwise.
  • stealthkiwi says
    Be extra careful with normal daily things you don't think twice about. I once took a necklace to Tahiiti not realising it actually had coral bits till customs stopped me on the way back home and presumed i'd bought it on holiday
  • nmgray says
    You can't even that a bottle of water on the plane, I got caught out at Auckland airport and had to skull the water or surrender my favourite bottle to customs.
    • Wice says
      Just take an empty water bottle through customs and fill it in the departure lounge. Most large planes also have a distilled water tank to refill you bottle once on board.
    • Twitteratti says
      While we assume so much is common sense, we daily hear of people making idiotic mistakes in international travel, so clearly it isn't! Hubby learned the hard way after wearing a stuntman tshirt that had a picture of a James Bondish charcter with a gun on it. He got searched at customs and they said "really? You thought THAT was a good tshirt to wear flying?" So yep, add to that list items of clothing with guns or inflammatory words etc on it! Dont' give customs an excuse to pick YOU out!
    • Karen says
      Good advice about the laptop and digital gear. I hadn't heard about any problems with those from friends but I can see how it might appear to customs depending on the country you are going to or from.
    • ynot3000 says
      If in doubt declare it!
      • New Member says
        Better to be safe than sorry. Also having something to declare gets you throught customs faster as well!
      • erenakelly says
        You know what NOT to take? Pesky alpha-people who dictate your every move and spoil the romance of discovering a new place. You don't want to take too strict an itinerary either, but definitely an open mind. Be prepared to follow your whims and let your instincts guide your trip. You won't regret it!

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