Many countries have restrictions on what can be brought across their borders, and the United States of America is no different. Products that U.S. Customs and Border Protection prevents from entering the country are those that can “injure or cause harm to community health, public safety, American workers, children, domestic plant and animal life, or those that would defeat national interests”.

So, what exactly does U.S. Customs and Border Protection prohibit from entering the United States?

Things You Can’t Bring Across the U.S. Border

Whether you’ve been travelling abroad and are coming home or are moving to the United States, it’s important to know what you can’t bring with you to make your experience at the border as seamless as possible. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection page has a comprehensive list of prohibited and restricted items that cannot enter the United States (or that require a permit). Some of these restricted items include the following:

  • Alcohol (limited by quantity)
  • Automobiles (must meet fuel-emission requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency and the safety standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation)
  • Biological specimens (bacterial cultures and medium, excretions, fungi, biological tissues, etc.)
  • Cuban-made products
  • Cultural artifacts (most countries have laws that protect their cultural property such as art, artifacts, and antiquities)
  • Classified and unclassified military items
  • Drugs and drug paraphernalia
  • Firearms
  • Fish and wildlife (and products made from them)
  • Food products (anything containing meat or meat products is not admissible; fruit and vegetables depend on a number of factors)
  • Haitian animal hide drums (similarly, untanned animal hide drums from Africa pose a risk for cutaneous anthrax)
  • Plants and seeds (some are permitted with permits, others are prohibited)
  • Soil

Some items can be brought into the United States, but require special permits or regulation. These include game and hunting trophies, pets and wildlife, and biologics including animal products, plants, organisms, and soil. If you are bringing medication across the border, only bring as much as you need, and be sure to declare all drugs and similar products to the appropriate CBP official. Carry your prescription or a written statement from your physician to show that you are using medications under a doctor’s supervision.

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