List of Prohibited and Restricted Items at Ports in the United States

Traveling to the United States can be a stressful experience. As authorities often receive alerts of terrorist threats, an extra layer of security is often enforced. This means passengers are subject to longer, more thorough security checks. But more than just security issues, the United States also abides by international laws on shipment of items that are prohibited, endangered and potentially deadly.

But whether you are traveling with certain items or shipping them through  authorized forwarders, it pays to be aware of which items are in the list of prohibited or restricted entry to the United States. The following items are either prohibited, requires permit or restricted to certain allowable amount/volume entry at all ports in the United States as defined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Absinthe and Alcoholic Beverages. Alcohol and other beverages containing large amounts of alcohol may alter a person’s state of mind. For this reason, the United States limits the amount of alcoholic beverages one may bring in to the state. Furthermore, in some cases, a permit or pass is required for anyone carrying such items.

Automobiles. In the United States, there are standards set for vehicle bumper safety, driver and passenger safety, and theft prevention standards. If anyone of those standards is unmet, then the vehicle would not be permitted to enter the country.

Biologicals. Agencies such as United States Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are responsible for controlling the entry of biological specimens that are used for biological and or research study, and pharmaceutical use. These may require permits and inspection.

Ceramic Tableware. Ceramic Tableware is not prohibited in the United States. However, those bought overseas may need to be tested for lead content. Only ceramic tableware with high lead content are not allowed to be brought to the United States.

Cultural Artifacts and Properties. Different countries have various rules and laws that protect their cultural property such as art, relics, and antiquities. These items might be subject to question when brought to the United States.

Defense Articles or Items with Military Applications. Items whether classified or unclassified as defense articles require license before either imported or exported.

Dog and Cat Fur. The US has passed an act known as ‘Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000’ disallowing sale of products containing dog or cat fur.

Drug Paraphernalia. It is illegal or forbidden to import, export, manufacture, sell, or transport drug paraphernalia to the United States unless prescribed for authentic medical situations like diabetes.

Firearms. Firearms can be carried if approved by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a regulating agency that controls and limits firearms and ammunition as well as approves all import and export of items as such.

Photo credit: www.austin360.com
Photo credit: www.austin360.com

Fish and Wildlife. Fishes and wildlife to include products made from these, are subject to import and export limitations, prohibitions, certifications, inspection, and detailed requirements.

Prepacked or Prepared Food. Raw food, such as meat and rice, which may harbor insects and pests are not admissible into the United States.

Fruits and Vegetables. Agricultural products especially raw ones are as much as possible prohibited because they may harbor harmful pests that may cause an outbreak or disease. Thus, are not allowed to be carried inside the state.

Gold. The Office of Foreign Assets prohibits the passage of gold items from Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, and most of Sudan. In addition, copies of gold coins, if not labeled properly by the country of origin, will be considered illegal.

Medications. Medications are technically allowed but one must make sure that those medications are needed to prevent further interrogation and delays.

Pets and Animals. There is a close regulation on the import and export of animals for the reasons of public health and animal well-being.

Pornographic Items. Articles and materials, such as photographic films, can be subject to scrutiny when pornography is suspected.

Soil, Plants and Seeds. These items need permit before they are allowed to enterinto the United States. They need to be scrutinizedand checked for pests that they may harbor.

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