Customs regulations for your trip to the United States of America

Last modified: July 24, 2023
You are here:
Estimated reading time: 8 min

”When importing unaccompanied baggage into the United States, there are guidelines and requirements that must be followed. Here are some of the key aspects to consider:

  • Passport: Valid passport for identification purposes.
  • Visa or Immigration Documents: Documentation indicating your legal status in the United States, if applicable.
  • Bill of Lading or Airway Bill: Proof of shipment with details about the transport of your unaccompanied baggage.
  • Packing List: Detailed list specifying the contents of each package.
  • Supplemental Declaration for Unaccompanied Personal and Household Effects: This form provides additional details about the articles being imported and their eligibility for duty-free entry.
  • CF3299 Form (Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles): Required to claim duty-free entry for unaccompanied articles.
  • Power of Attorney (if applicable): Document granting authority to a customs broker if you choose to engage their services.

Prohibited Items: These are items that are strictly prohibited from being imported into the United States. Examples include illegal drugs, counterfeit goods, obscene materials, and certain hazardous substances.

Restricted Items: These are items that may require special permits, licenses, or meet specific conditions for importation. Examples include firearms, ammunition, certain animal and plant products, protected wildlife species, and certain food products.

Please note that the specific documentation requirements may vary depending on factors such as your immigration status, the nature of the goods being imported, and any additional customs regulations. It is important to consult the official website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or seek advice from our agents at XS BAGGAGE to ensure that you have the correct and complete documentation for your specific situation.”

Customs regulations

Import regulations:

Articles from certain countries are given special duty preferences when imported into the USA. Contact the US International Trade Commission or US representations abroad for more information.

Residents :

Returning residents of the USA can import up to USD 800.- worth of articles acquired abroad free of duty, if their stay abroad was at least 48 hours and their duty-free exemption was not used in the preceding 30 days (see 3. below – “If not entitled”).
For arrivals directly from American Samoa, Guam or the US Virgin Islands: duty-free exemption of max. USD 1600.- (of which max. USD 800.- may be acquired elsewhere than in these islands). The duty-free allowances may include the following maximum quantities of:

  • Tobacco products: 200 cigarettes, a reasonable amount of tobacco and 100 cigars. For arrivals from the US Virgin Islands, Guam or American Samoa: 1000 cigarettes, not more than 200 of which may be acquired elsewhere than in these islands.
  • persons of 21 years or older: 1 US quart of alcoholic beverages . For arrivals from the US Virgin Islands, Guam or American Samoa: 1 US gallon, not more than 1 quart of which may be acquired elsewhere than on these islands.
  • Perfumes, lotions, Eau de Cologne, etc. if not under a trade mark restriction recorded in the US Treasury Department (importation of one trademarked article per passenger will usually be allowed, unless the trade mark owner has authorized a greater number of imports of its article).
  • Other goods for personal use.

Above exemptions are also applicable if shipped as cargo and arriving by same aircraft as owner.

Members of a family residing in one household returning together to the USA may group articles acquired, for application of the flat duty rate. For example, an eligible family of four would have their articles grouped for a total of USD 3,200.- fair retail value for entry at the flat rate of duty.

If not entitled to the USD 600.-, USD 800.- or USD 1200.- exemption (because the exemption was previously used within the past 30 days or stay outside the USA was less than 48 hours), articles with max. value of USD 50.- may be imported, including max. 50 cigarettes or 10 cigars or 4 ounces of alcoholic beverages (age: 21 years or older) or 4 ounces of alcoholic perfume. This USD 50.- exemption may not be grouped together for members of a family. If the USD 50.- value is exceeded, the whole quantity is dutiable.

Non-commercial import of goods with max. value of USD 800.- from Cambodia, Cuba, Korea (Dem. People’s Rep.) and Viet Nam is allowed if:

  • the USD 800.- allowance is used max. once per 6 months;
  • the goods are purchased in that country;
  • they are for personal use and not for resale; and
  • carried by the traveler.

Note: Articles from Cambodia, Cuba, Korea (Dem. People’s Rep.) and Viet Nam imported from other countries may still be restricted.
Import of Cuban alcohol and/or tabacco products acquired in Cuba for personal use is allowed in accompanied baggage.

USA residents returning from American Samoa, Guam or the Virgin Isl. (USA) may apply their personal duty-free exemption to articles acquired in, and sent directly from, these islands.

Persons returning to resume residency in the USA after travel, work or studies abroad are considered returning residents by the US Customs.

Mexico and the Virgin Isl. (USA) are exempt from the 48-hour minimum time requirements.

State restrictions: Quantities in excess of one US quart of alcoholic beverages per person imported into certain states are subject to local state taxes. For more information, contact the Distilled Spirits Council of the USA.


Can import the following articles for personal use free of duty:

  • 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 4.4 lbs.(2 kg) of smoking tobacco (persons of 21 years or older), or combination thereof;
  • 1 US quart of alcoholic beverages (persons of 21 years or older);

In addition, each non-resident (incl. minors) can import gifts of max. value of USD 100.- free of duty, once per 6 months, if their stay in the USA is not less than 72 hours.

State restrictions: Quantities in excess of one US quart of alcoholic beverages per person imported into certain states are subject to local state taxes. For more information, contact the Distilled Spirits Council of the USA.

Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes may not be included in the USD 100.- gift exemption. If not entitled for the USD 100.- gift exemption, articles not exceeding a value of USD 50.- may imported, including max. 100 cigars or 3 lbs. of tobacco. The USD 50.- exemption may not be grouped together for members of a family.


  • Narcotics, marijuana, dangerous drugs, absinthe (and any other liquor containing artemisia absinthium).
  • Fresh, dried or canned meat or meat products, plants , seeds (incl. rice, soybeans and chickpeas), vegetables, fruits, soil, live insects, snails and other living plant or animal pests.
  • Fish – unless certified as disease-free – including salmon and trout, or their eggs, if not canned, pickled or smoked may not be imported from anywhere except North America.
  • Goods from Iran and leather souvenirs from Haiti (e.g. drums).
  • Wildlife, fish and their products are subject to restrictions. Articles manufactured from wildlife such as clothing (i.e. leopard skin coats, crocodile shoes etc.), purses, carvings, etc. are prohibited. For more information contact the US Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife or US representations overseas.
  • Lighters without fuel are permitted in checked baggage or max. 2 lighters with fuel if properly enclosed in a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved case.
  • Matches in checked baggage. One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches is permitted as carry-on items.
  • Dairy products and eggs from certain countries.

Small quantities of pest-free cut flowers without soil are generally allowed. Certain plants, plant products and seeds are admissible with an import permit. For more information contact the US Dept. of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Center for Import and Export.

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Import permit is required. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates the importation of firearms. For further details please refer to
If importing arms and/or ammunition into the US Virgin Isl.: passengers must contact the Firearms Unit of the US Virgin Isl. Police Department prior to arrival at Tel: 1-340-776-1525.

Wild Fauna and Flora:

For detailed information see .

Export regulations:

Free export of an unlimited quantity of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.


Cats and dogs must be at least 16 weeks of age and are inspected by quarantine officer at port of arrival. If they appear to be sick, the owner must pay for the veterinarian for further examination of the animal.
Dogs must be accompanied by one of the following documents:

A valid certificate of rabies vaccination if arriving from a high-risk canine rabies country. As the list of these countries may change, see for the latest information.

The certificate becomes valid 28 days after the first vaccination and must include the following information:

  • name and address of owner;
  • identifying information for the dog;
  • vaccine product information;
  • date of vaccination and expiry date;
  • name, license number address and signature of the veterinarian.

If no expiration date is stated, the vaccination must be no more than 12 months before arrival. Puppies must not be vaccinated against rabies before 3 months of age. A dog’s first rabies vaccine must be given at least 28 days before arriving in the United States. Dogs older than 15 months of age that previously received a rabies vaccination (with the first given after 3 months old) may be imported immediately after booster vaccination (if required), without the need to wait 4 weeks before traveling;


A CDC-issued unimmunized dog permit “Permit to Conditionally Import a Dog Inadequately Immunized against Rabies”. Must be applied online 10 business days prior to arrival;


Written (or oral) statement that the dog has not been living in a high-risk canine rabies country for the past 6 months or since birth.

The above pet requirements apply to all US ports of entry EXCEPT the territory of Guam and the state of Hawaii.

For more information, see (bringing an animal into the U.S.).

IMPORTANT: until further notice, it is prohibited to import dogs originating from Egypt.

Pets entering Hawaii (including special aid dogs) and cats must undergo a mandatory 120 day quarantine period in the State Animal Quarantine Station. Only if specific requirements are met, animals can qualify for a 30-day quarantine period or the “5-days-or-less” quarantine program (for details see website:

The Dog and Cat Import Form AQS-279 must have been submitted to the Animal Quarantine Station more than 10 days prior to arrival.
Pets entering Hawaii on direct flights from the British Islands, Australia, Guam or New Zealand may be exempt from quarantine requirements. Pets transiting Hawaii must be quarantined at the state facility for the transit period. The Animal Quarantine Station must be notified of the complete itinerary at least 72 hours prior to departure from Hawaii.

All dogs and cats entering Hawaii are required to have:

  • microchip, implanted before the rabies anti blood test is performed;
  • at least 2 rabies vaccinations. The most recent vaccination must have been administered by a licensed veterinarian more than 30 days before arrival;
  • original Health Certificate in English issued within 14 days prior to arrival;
  • a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit (NIIP) if flying directly to Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA), Kahului Airport (OGG) or Lihue Airport (LIH). Refer to the “Checklist for Requesting Direct Airport Release at Kona, Kahului and Lihue Airports” No permit is required to fly into Honolulu at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), island of Oahu.
    More information about import of pets in Hawaii can be obtained from the Dept. of Agriculture, Animal Quarantine Branch, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, Hawaii 96701-5602. Tel: 808 483 7151. Fax: 808 483 7161.
    Further information regarding importation of pets may be obtained from US Dept. of Agriculture (for birds) or US Public Health Service (for other pets).

Birds: Entry and transit of birds is strictly controlled. Max. 5 personally owned pet birds may be brought into the USA. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Import Centers that contain quarantine facilities for pet birds are located only at the following special ports: Alaska (transit only); Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Mission, TX (only for abandoned or smuggled birds); New York JFK, NY. Note that the US laws restrict the entry of psittacine birds (parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, etc.) to 5 pet birds per family per year.

All pet birds (with certain exceptions for Canadian-origin birds) must be accompanied by:

  • USDA Import permit;
  • Health Certificate issued within 30 days prior to entry by the national government veterinary office of the country of export;
  • An advanced reservation from the quarantine facility for a minimum of 30 day isolation period at a USDA operated quarantine facility.
    For details contact the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,

Pet birds originally obtained in the USA and returning to the USA with the owner can re-enter without a USDA import permit. The bird may be quarantined in the owner’s home for the 30-day quarantine period.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the first point of entry in the USA.

Exempt: At some US airports, passengers making an international transfer are not required to collect their bags. Passengers should check with their carrier if they need to pick up baggage before transferring.


Currency Import regulations:


Currency Export regulations:

local currency (United States Dollar-USD) and foreign currencies: no restrictions, if arriving and departing passengers must report to US customs any money or other monetary instruments exceeding USD 10,000.-. Gold: Importation of gold coins or small, non-commercial quantities of gold must be declared upon arrival.

Airport Tax

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

Was this article helpful?
Dislike 0
Views: 55
Previous: Traveller’s info card for the United States of America
Next: United States of America Travel Information
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright - World Baggage Network