With school holidays just around the corner, the end-of-year festive period is the most popular time to take the family on a vacation. One of the most exciting places to visit is the United States of America, or USA for short, where you’ll experience a Christmas you won’t come by in Asian countries!
Before you start packing your entire wardrobe into luggage bags, it’s always important to take note of some immigration regulations. The last thing you want is to be stuck at immigration and have a terrible start to your trip. If you’ve been thinking about planning a holiday to the USA, here are a few things you might want to take note:
If you’re bringing a few elderly relatives with you, you might want to tell them to leave their trusty Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) at home. Many from the older generation believe in plant-based TCM remedies and they’d most likely want to bring some along “just in case”, especially when they’re going to a western country. However, if you’re bringing along herbs, plants, and even handicraft items made with straw, these items must be declared and presented for inspection. It can be quite a hassle to declare these items at customs especially when you’re visiting during the year-end period. If possible, try to keep plant products out of your luggage!
Do you need to take medication regularly? If you do and you always need them with you, you’ll definitely need to declare them on your flight to the USA. It is highly recommended that you only bring just enough – not too much – and also be sure that the drugs are in their original containers. On top of that, it’s also a good idea to bring along the prescription from your doctor to show that the medication you’re carrying is necessary for your well being.
Additionally, it’s also important to check whether your medication is approved for use in the USA. While some medication may be legal in certain countries, you may not be able to bring them over if they’re not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – this applies even if you have a physician’s prescription.
The general rule of thumb is to bring only what you absolutely need. If you need to bring more than 50 dosage units of your medication, make sure you contact USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration at (202) 305-8800 before entering the country.
Perhaps you’re thinking of visiting a friend who’s migrated to the USA and thought gifting them an exotic bottle of wine would be a good idea. While it’s a generous thought, you have to be prepared to do a bit of paperwork for bringing alcohol across borders. Depending on the amount of alcohol you’re carrying, you might even need to apply for a license. Additionally, if you’ve bought alcohol at duty-free shops before boarding, you’ll need to declare those too.
Thinking of bringing some homemade snacks to munch on board? Perhaps a few well-meaning friends passed you some handcrafted goodies at the airport? Although the USA immigration is quite strict about what medication and drugs you bring in, they are pretty lax when it comes to food items. Homemade food or simply small amounts of food bought at your nearby store can be packed into your check-in or hand-carry with no problems! You don’t need to declare these items if they’re just for personal consumption. Only those who are importing food for commercial purposes need to report to the FDA before arrival.
In general, ceramic tableware is not prohibited or restricted. Ceramics make pretty good gifts for friends and family who have been living in the USA for some time. However, if you’re thinking of bringing tableware with you – especially those purchased from rural areas in less developed countries – just remember that these items might contain traces of lead which can potentially seep into food and beverages. The USA immigration will not confiscate your items but they do warn you about the dangers of consuming food with these wares, so just keep that in mind!
In general, the US immigration isn’t too strict and you probably won’t run into any problems if you don’t bring an excessive amount of consumables. Whether you’re bringing the family to Disneyland or taking them on a shopping spree in New York City, you don’t want to ruin your holiday by packing prohibited items and getting stuck at the customs. Make sure you only bring what you need and you’ll have a fantastic year-end holiday in the USA!
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