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
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 chagrin 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.
©Copyright Kathy Steinemann: This article is free to publish only if this copyright notice, the byline, and the author's note below (with active links) are included.