What can I bring in the luggage?

Specific limits and rules exist in regard to the transport of goods, objects, precious and cash/ titles, and the luggage might be checked by the competent authorities (customs). In order to avoid long waiting times at the customs, it is better to know beforehand what is allowed and what is not.

Since the luggage can be opened and be put under revision from the CBP, we advise you to be prepared for this circumstance, so that the process will be handled quickly and smoothly.

Liquid chlorine, flammable paints, and fireworks are absolutely prohibited. Hammers, Drills and other work tools, baseball, golf or hockey bats, firearms and ammunition (under certain conditions) are permitted in the baggage if you have an authorization.

For hand baggage, one for each person, it must always be kept in mind that any liquid container, hair gel, or aerosol can not exceed 100 ml. These limits may be exceeded only in some cases:

  • – By declaring them under the control zone, it is allowed to transport breast milk, artificial milk, fruit juice and other liquids if you are traveling with an infant.
  • – Yet by declaring them under the control zone, you can transport liquid drugs in an mount greater than 100 ml.

There are then prohibitions and restrictions on many products. If you want to bring along one of the products listed, you should strictly follow the CBP guidelines (US Customs)

  • Products for military purposes: any article, software, or related military project must be declared, and you must obtain a license for its import.
  • Weapons and ammunition: In case of detention of arms and/or munitions, you should require a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If you previously carry a firearm before leaving the US, you do not need to show the authorization again. You should always remember to register the fire arm at the CBP before taking your flight, using the 4457 module.
  • Cars and vehicles in general: To obtain all the information regarding import of vehicles, it is reccomended to contact the US EPA Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, in the United States, each State lays enstablishes rules on vehicles, therefore you must contact the agency of the desired state. Here is a list for each state. In general, vehicles registered in Europe and Canada over the past 2 years are in accordance with the requirements in the state in which they are located. Otherwise, the agencies responsible will allow entry of the vehicle under caution. The changes must be made immediately and the vehicle can’t be used until these are finished. Otherwise the vehicle must leave the country or be destroyed. For non-immigrants who bring a car in the USA for less than a year, these changes are not required but the car/vehicle cannot be sold.
  • Research products or pharmaceutical products: The products highlighted are mollusks, animal tissues, viruses, bacteria and mushrooms, and they need a permission from the Department of Agriculture (Department of Agriculture of the United States) or from a Disease Control Centers.
  • Alcoholic Beverages: There isn’t a real limit but it depends on the destination. We recommend you to check before departing.
  • Plants, seeds, Ground: These need authorization.
  • Articles protected by copyright law: It is forbidden to introduce counterfeit products. These articles are allowed one per each person. In the event of a surplus, products will be seized.
  • Prohibited articles as a result of their provenance: It is forbidden to introduce products from countries subject to embargo, among which Iran, Myanmar, Cuba and part of Sudan or products from countries subject to partial embargoes as Ivory Coast, countries of the Balkans or the Sierra Leone. The only products that make an exception are books, magazines, films or similar products as well as gifts or objects for domestic use, the value of which does not exceed 100 USD.
  • Drugs and illegal substances: It is illegal to import medicines or medical products on the American territory which are not purchasable. So products such as needles cannot be imported in the absence of a doctor’s prescription which demonstrates their pharmaceutical use, for example in the case of diabetic patients.

    In general, you can bring any medicinal product you need if provided with recipe and if this remains in the original box. We want to stress that products such as contact lenses need a prescription in the United States. The quantity allowed varies depending on the time period of your you stay in the US. For residents, the maximum quantity is 50 doses.
    You must inform the customs officer in regards to medicines that can be used as drugs or which are addictive, as like some medicine for coughing, antidepressants or sleeping pills.

  • Food: It is allowed to bring coffee, tea, honey, spices, vinegar, olive oil, or processed foods.
    It is allowed to partially bring fruits and vegetables. This depends on the provenience of the fruit and the traveler. If this is not declared, the traveler is likely to be fined for up to USD 500

    It is partially allowed the entrance of cheese and bakery products. It is always better to check first.

    It is not allowed to bring instant soups or similar products, as well as meat of farm animals, raw or cooked: that is you can’t import any cured meat.

  • Art, ancient objects and archaeological finds: In order to introduce these objects you must demonstrate in an impeccable manner your property of the object, with a property document attached.

    If you have an export license issued by the country of origin, it is allowed to bring in the United States objects like sculptures, prints, and works of art. However, you must pay attention to the type of license you have because it has often happened that some permissions, even from large companies, proved to be false or invalid.

    The pieces of art from Mali, Cyprus, Iraq or Cambodia are examined with particular attention given cases of looting in the last years.

  • Pets: Cats do not need of a vaccination certificate, while dogs must be vaccinated against rabies in a period between 30 days and one year from the date of departure. Dogs coming from countries where no cases were found of rabies are exempt.

    Company airlines require certificates of good health, even if not required by the customs. This serves to demonstrate that the pet will not suffer or is a bearer of diseases.
    The import of products containing dogs or cats is prohibited, and incurs a penalty that can reach 10,000 USD.

    Birds taken from home must be subjected to quarantine at the time of entry into the United States. The owner must declare them before you beginning the trip. He must also fill the module VS 17-129 and pay the fee for the quarantine before starting the journey.
    Hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and similar animals may be introduced without carrying out any practice. However, to avoid problems with the customs, we recommend to bring a certificate.

    In general, when carrying animals in the United States, it is advisable to get informed about the conditions laid down by each Member State.

female-headshotExample: Mrs. Grace>

A few weeks ago Mrs. Grace and her husband Frank went to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit their son, which is a teacher of economics at the local university.

Grace lives in south of France, homeland of pate and cheese!

Thinking of doing something pleasant to her son Paul, the lady and her husband brought with them in their journey some of the delicacies of their land.

Once in flight, while filling the customs form known as form 6059B (this is delivered by the flight attendants before landing at the destination, in order to be ready upon arrival), to the question whether the passenger brought along meat or food products, our protagonists had a first hint that something was not OK with the food in their luggage. In any case, to a specific question in customs form, they opted for responding No.

Once arrived, Grace and Frank underwent a more detailed check from the Authorities.
While opening the luggage you can imagine that the our couple did not feel comfortable at all. Food products were in fact seized, and the spouses fined for not declaring them.

male-headshotExample 2: Mario

Mario is an entrepreneur in tourism field, member of a German tour operator based in Monaco of Bavaria. His specialization is journeys in the American continent. In arrival to Miami from Mexico, after having stopped for a couple of days in Cuba, Mario brought with him some Cubans cigars.

Upon arrival at Miami, Mario declared to possess tobacco.

Once at the customs, at a specific question by the agent in charge, Mario declared the provenience of the tobacco.

Since Cuba is part of the list of countries with economic embargo by the United States of America (along with North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Burma), Mario’s cigars were confiscated.
Before entering the United States with an Esta, if you are not sure about the legality of certain products you own, it is a good idea to double check with our customer service they are allowed to enter the U.S.. It could result in a seizure penalty at the U.S. Customs.

Get your ESTA Visa in 3 easy steps!


1. Complete the application form in full.


2. Confirm personal and payment information.


3. Receive a confirmation email from us shortly.