Check the Import/Export Laws Before You Go Shopping on Holiday

    To many travelers, the act of shopping plays a big part in holidaying abroad. Items that are expensive at home are sometimes cheaper overseas. Some items that you cannot find at home are available in abundance within other territories. It is little wonder that we spend so much time while vacationing, trying to obtain that rare and beautiful item for ourselves or a loved one back home. However, as simple and as unproblematic as the idea of doing so might sound, the actual deed could get you into trouble. Thus it is important to gain a full knowledge of what you are able to bring into a country and what you are able to leave with. As tedious as all this might sound, a wrongful action could land you with a hefty fine or even worse.

    Christmas in the Green Isle
    Shopping on Holiday Jaimito Cartero / Foter / CC BY-NC

    Thus to be an internationally savvy traveler in today’s world, you must be aware of your import and export guidelines.

    The Reason behind the Constraints

    On finding the perfect gift for that special someone back home, it can come as a letdown when you realize that you’re not allowed to cross borders with the piece in tow. You may even find it unreasonable, but a clear and fair rationale does exist as to why these laws are in place. Most items that are either prohibited or restricted from passing between borders are those that would;

    • infringe on public safety,
    • infringe on domestic plant and animal life,
    • compromise community health,
    • endanger children,

    Or items that would simply defeat national interests in one way or another.

    As stated on the U.S Customs and Borders website,, some of the items that can cause the most injury may seem harmless but are actually extremely dangerous. Other items that are a cause for concern are those cited as being Natural Artifacts to their country of origin. Any such pieces that have historic or cultural value must be accompanied by relevant documentation or receipts. Once the handler is in possession of such a document, the prospect of a problem arising is limited.

    Items to make A Note Of

    While the restrictions that apply to certain articles in one country may not apply to that same article in another, there are generally certain types of bits and pieces that on a whole raise red flags. They include:

    • Alcohol
    • Biologicals
    • Defense Articles
    • Firearms
    • Fish and Wildlife
    • Medication
    • Soil
    • And Gold.

    While this is a list of only a few, they give an indication of the kind of products that warrant investigation and sometimes refusal of exit and entry. But do not despair, with a wide range of arcades, malls, market places and shopping centers available in most countries, it would not prove difficult to find that special something that does not provoke suspicion.


    When we discuss the movement of pharmaceuticals between countries, we tend to refer to the illegal kind. While all of those types of drugs are prohibited from free movement, there are some medications that, unknown to many, warrant suspicion when carried across borders. It is a given that if your doctor has prescribed medication for you to take while you are on vacation, you should do so, but there still remains a handful of legal drugs which are not allowed to be brought into some countries. It is also advised that when traveling with medications, the traveler should carry proof of the prescription or a formal letter from their primary care physician. As already stated, every country has their own laws governing what can be brought across their borders, so do your research and be prepared. Once you have the right documentation all will go well.

    Gaining the Relevant Information

    Gaining the relevant information about what you are able to bring in and take out of certain countries is not a hard thing to do. By simply going on to a site which details the import and export laws of the country you will be visiting, your work is practically done. It is also a good idea to visit the US Customs and Borders website (, and read through the list of items prohibited or that have restrictions placed on them when entering into the US. If you still feel a little skeptical about any of your holiday purchases that you made abroad, why not check with the concierge at the hotel where you are staying? They should be able to offer some visitor friendly advice. You could also visit the local embassy where they are bound to have the right information on hand.

    All of us are entitled to a little international shopping spree when vacationing. There’s nothing quite like it. Just be sure to make inquiries. All the information that you could want in regards to the matter is available to you. Take your time, digest the facts, and then when you are done, go out and buy. In other words, make your next vacation a shopping holiday to remember without any delays or hassles that could make any trip a miserable one.

    Gemma Hobbs is an avid blogger with extensive experience as a travel consultant. She far too often sees travelers get into trouble overseas because of lack of correct information. She enjoys sharing her insights on various blogs. Visit Expedia Australia to find out more travel insurance information.


    I have spent the past 15 years in the travel industry. Today focused on promoting different ways of traveling, I'm in the process of creating few travel websites, which will be launched shortly. I have a great passion for travel and the travel industry. My goal here atTtripOutlook is to connect to other proffessionals in the travel industry and to exchange experience.

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