Ten Things to Know Before Going on Cruise
By Anna Lynn Sibal
Going abroad on a cruise, or just traveling abroad in general, entails certain risks. Accidents and illnesses happen, and you can commit infringes like traffic violations on shore excursions without you knowing it. And when it comes to shopping and bringing things back home, you can get into big trouble if you do not check out with Customs what you should take back with you.
The US Customs has some stringent regulations on what American citizens and residents can and cannot bring back with them when they return to the United States from their cruise. To avoid encountering problems upon coming home, the agency has ten tips about how travelers should handle purchases from abroad before they enter or re-enter the United States. These ten tips may prove handy for you if you are coming to the United States after a cruise vacation.
1. Always make it a point to visit the US State Department’s website, http://travel.state.gov, to check out whatever travel documents and identification that you would need when going back to or entering the United States. Border security measures now require a show of passports.
2. Another thing you need to do before you leave is to check out which items are considered restricted merchandise and which ones are prohibited merchandise. Counterfeits and products from endangered animals are considered prohibited.
3. If you bought something on your cruise trip, whether from a duty-free shop or not, declare it before you go back to the US. Needless to say, you will need to make payments for duty fees and such even if you made your purchases in a duty-free shop.
4. Beware of buying any item from a street vendor, lest it is a fake or something unsafe. You will only end up surrendering it to Customs when you get back home.
5. There are, of course, some purchases that are exempted from duty fees. Such purchases are ones that are meant to be gifts or for personal use. If you are going to resell what you have bought from overseas on your cruise trip, you will have to pay duty fees.
6. Bought some foreign-made medication while you are on a cruise trip? Forget about taking them back home; if it is not approved by the FDA, it stays with Customs. Therefore, make sure that you bring enough medicine with you before you leave the United States.
7. Products made from Cuba, including their cigars, are a no-no, regardless of where you bought them on your cruise. Even if you paid a pretty penny for them, you will never be able to bring them onto American soil.
8. Some foreign foods are on the Customs’ prohibited list. If some food item you bought from overseas on your cruise trip is included in that list, you will not be able to take it back home.
9. Be prepared for your person and your luggage to be searched and inspected, even without a warrant. It is part of the security procedure and it is meant to protect travelers such as yourself.
10. The Customs has a nice little pamphlet called “Know Before You Go.” Consider it your assignment to read it before you leave for your cruise trip; you can look at it online or you can ask for your own copy.
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