If in doubt, declare it. That’s the take-away from expert advice on how to get to arrivals more quickly
1 – If you’ve been to any farming/agricultural areas
“You’ll be asked about the nature of the contact and may be subject to additional screening,” says Jon Moulding, co-founder and director of travel agent Florida4Less. “Customs officers could even choose to disinfect your items in order to avoid unwanted pests from entering the country.”
2 – If you haven’t declared everything
“Even if you’re 99% sure that the item you bought does not need to be declared, it’s always worth letting customs know anyway,” says Moulding. “Anything prohibited found that hasn’t been declared can lead to major delays and possibly even fines. The CBP advise: ‘If in doubt, declare it’.”
3 – If you’ve been to certain countries
“Customs officers may pay more attention to you if you’ve been to certain countries, such as those affected by the infection ‘Yellow Fever’,” says Moulding. Some destinations may be flagged as more suspicious (e.g. having a reputation for drug smuggling) than others and duly make you more likely to be stopped and questioned.
4 – Using your phone or a camera
The CBP forbids the use of any equipment capable of taking photos while passing through customs. “If seen taking photos, the item can be confiscated and you will be questioned,” says Moulding.
5 – If you’re wearing walking/hiking boots
It is forbidden to bring soil into the US. “So anyone wearing walking/hiking boots may be stopped under suspicion that some may still be lingering on the footwear,” says Moulding. “The shoes could also be carrying traces of seeds or water and this threatens the US’s biosecurity.”
Got any Haitian goat hide? There are also a few ‘quirks’ of the system the savvy traveller should be aware of:
Kinder Surprise eggs: “While chocolate is generally allowed into the US, Kinder Surprise eggs are prohibited because the toy inside them doesn’t pass certain safety regulations.”
Mooncakes: “The popular baked product mooncakes are forbidden if they are filled with meat or eggs.”
Drums: “Haitian goat hide and various African drums are prohibited because of the risk of anthrax.”
Pet fur: “Any item containing dog or cat fur will be confiscated and the individual could be fined up to $10,000.”