Three Items That May Be Prohibited in Your Travels

Know what you can or can’t pack before you go

Cheese in cheese shop
••• Reza Estakhrian/Taxi/Getty Images

While everyone enjoys the fun of travel, local norms and customs regulations may prevent modern day adventurers from taking certain items into or away from a destination. Everyone loves having something to take with them – but are we packing the right ones?  

By understanding what is and isn’t allowed, travelers can make better decisions when it’s time to head out and avoid souvenir scams at home and abroad.

As you make your travel plans, keep these items in mind before you pack your bags for the ride home.

Usually Prohibited: Meats and Cheeses

So you may have made the stop at the perfect cheese or meat shop in your international travels. You loved the cured bacon or gouda so much, that you just must take it home and share it with your friends. So you buy a little extra, with the goal of packing it away in your checked baggage. Will it be allowed in the United States? 

No matter what foods a traveler purchases while or where you purchase it at (at a local shop or in Duty Free), every international traveler is required to declare all of their food items when entering a country. Failure to declare any foods while traveling to the United States can result in fines of up to $10,000, and other potential penalties – such as loss of trusted traveler status. 

In addition, some items may not ever be allowed to bring back into the Untied States.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office: “The importation of fresh, dried or canned meats or meat products is generally not allowed from most foreign countries into the United States. This includes products that have been prepared with meat.” In addition, other animal byproducts, including cheese, may not be allowed to come back with you as well.

Be sure to check your home country regulations before you pack meats and cheeses in your bags. 

Potentially Prohibited: Alcoholic Beverages

Many travelers love to sample the local spirits as they travel around the world. However, just because we enjoy a good beverage does not mean it’s allowed in a destination country. How can you make sure your beverages allowed on the road? 

Different countries have different regulations on what alcoholic beverages are allowed to be brought with a traveler. Some countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, strictly outlaw the importation and consumption of alcoholic beverages into their nations. Many western nations allow alcohol to be brought in by travelers, but must be declared at the point of entry. In some cases, you may be asked to pay duties on alcoholic beverages. 

Returning to the United States, travelers are allowed to bring beverages back from their travels. Depending on how long one was out of the country, travelers may be allowed a duty free allowance of up to $600 of goods. Regardless of where a beverage was purchased, it must be declared at the point of entry, and duties may have to be paid. The Harmonized Tariff System can help you figure out what you may be required to pay upon entry to the United States.

Possibly Prohibited: Human Ashes

Losing a loved one is always incredibly difficult, especially if that loss took place in another country. If their final wishes were to be taken to another country, the transport of their ashes can be a difficult ordeal. 

Regardless of where you intend to travel, all human ashes must be interred in an approved container or urn. Your funeral home can help you decide on an airline-friendly container. In addition to the urn, arrangements must be made with your air carrier to transport the ashes as either checked cargo, or a carry-on item. Your airline can be happy to inform you of rights and regulations when it comes to traveling with ashes. 

In the United States, all cargo must be security screened by the Transportation Security Administration before it will be allowed on flights.

Under no circumstances are TSA officers allowed to open containers – even if requested by a traveler. Rather, every container must be inspected via X-Ray Machine, and a determination to the contents must be made. If a TSA officer can not definitively determine that the contents are safe, they will not be allowed to fly.

Finally, many countries have specific regulations on how human remains are allowed into the country. Upon entry, you may need to provide documentation of the contents, including death records and other paperwork. Your funeral home and airline can help you prepare the items you need to travel internationally with human items. 

By understanding the local regulations on which items are and are not allowed, you can make sure your travels run as smoothly as possible. When traveling with potentially prohibited or protected items, be sure you understand and prepare for local regulations in order to ensure smooth travels.