Items That are Permitted and Prohibited by U.S. Customs

January 26, 2018
Sometimes when we travel or try to send goods to another country we get annoyed when it's time to deal with customs. It's a long and very detailed process, especially when you send big cargo overseas, as they check not only documentation but the type and quantity of the items you're carrying into the country. This can get extensive and boring, right? Particulary if you are busy with other things. But the truth is that having this kind of control over what enters the U.S. is more important than you think.

As it was said before, customs are an official organization responsible for charging taxes on goods coming into a certain country, taking detailed care on the type of objects that are entering, in order to prevent the ingress of illegal goods that could harm the country's security.
Items Permitted and Prohibited
The importance of the exhaustive work of customs lies in improving foreign trade and preventing harm to the country's health and safety. In the past, customs' failing affected tax revenues and facilitated smuggling, so it was essential to advance and improve its operational techniques to collect and protect production from shady imports. Besides, strengthening customs duties is crucial for the collection, as well as the protection of local production.

Back then, the collection of taxes on foreign trade was affected by the elimination of export taxes and the reduction of import. The deficiencies of the administration allowed, according to numerous evidences, the entry of merchandise of contraband. Fortunately, nowadays customs are working hard to compensate the past and have increased their security in all matters relating togoods importation.

Cargo and U.S. Customs

We have already mentioned U.S. Customs works hard to ensure safety and to identify situations that represent a threat for national health, safety and security as well as taking care of taxes . Just like in traveling by plane, U.S. Customs Border and Protection ensures all the legal documentation for importing goods it's in order, and if the packages are permitted or restricted for entering the country.

As a person who wants to hire cargo services to import goods into the U.S., there is a lot to learn before making a final decision.


If you don't educate yourself first on how U.S. Customs works, you will have to spend more money than expected or worse; pay fines or commit a felony for something you just didn't know.

The first thing you must do before you hire cargo services is to learn about U.S. Customs Border and Protection. They have a list of prohibited items you cannot import to the U.S., so if you have friends or family in other country who would like to send you goods like alcohol or medication, you should be careful and do your research first, learn about what the restrictions are for these two items and stay out of unnecessary trouble.

What Items Can or Cannot Enter to the U.S.?

U.S. Customs Border and Protection has an official page where they specify what kind of goods are restricted, and the regulations they have in case there is a possibility to successfully make the shipment.

At CA CARGO INC, we deeply care about your cargo, whether is to import or export goods, we want you to have the best experience, so we put together a list with regulations made by the U.S. Customs Border and Protection:

    Alcohol Beverages
  • Alcohol Beverages:
  • It's not that you're not allowed to import alcohol to the U.S., it's about knowing the laws and regulation of each state.

    Each state has differences in how they handle the amount of alcohol you are permitted to bring with you, and the cases in which you need a license or not. So, if you plan to bring alcoholic beverages with you, you should contact the state's applicable alcoholic beverage control board beforehand to determine what you need to do to obey that state's law and regulations.

  • Automobiles:
  • Any car that doesn't meet all the requirements of the U.S. Customs Border and Protection can be imported into the country. If you want to do this, it is not going to be easy. All automobiles must meet the fuel-emission requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency and the safety, theft prevention standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Almost all cars, vans, sport utility vehicles among others, that are bought in foreign countries must be modified to meet American standards, if they don't, there is any possibility you could bring them to the United States.

    Food Products
  • Food Products:
  • Bush meat from African wildlife and everything containing meat products such as bouillon, soup mixes, etc., are prohibited to enter the U.S. There are only some items like cheese, bakery ingredients and condiments, vinegars, oils, packaged spices, honey, coffee and tea, allowed to pass through with no problem. Other food product that is best to avoid bringing into the U.S. is rice, this can often port insects and carry dangerous diseases without even knowing.

    Depending on what you're bringing, you should know that some imported foods are also subject to requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Fruit And Vegetables
  • Fruit and Vegetables:
  • U.S. Customs Border and Protection takes seriously what fruit and vegetables are permitted to bring into the country, as there are numerous plant pests and disease that can affect the security and health of U.S. residents. This is why if you're planning to import this type of goods, you should ask about the regulations and requirements first.

    Be careful! If you fail to declare agricultural items at U.S. ports of entry will cost first time offenders $300. The penalty for the second violation goes up to $500. Make sure you present these items first to Customs for inspection, they'll decide if the fruit, vegetable or others are permitted.

  • Medication:
  • This is a very delicate subject, as narcotics and other type of drugs with a high potential for abuse are prohibited into the United States, so if you try to import forbidden medication, there are severe penalties for it. Importing medication for commercial use is banned by the FDA.

    On the other hand, if the medication you're importing is for personal use, in the U.S. Customs Border and Protection website there is a list with tips on what you can do when you need medicines that contain potentially addictive drugs or narcotics (e.g., some cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants or stimulants):

    -Declare all drugs, medicine, and similar products to the appropriate CBP official.
    -Carry such substances in their original containers.
    -Carry a copy of the prescription.

    Be aware that possession of certain substances may also violate state laws. As a general rule, the FDA does not allow the importation of prescription drugs that were purchased outside the United States.

  • Pets:
  • Importing animals is closely regulated for public health reasons and for the well-being of the animals. There are restrictions and prohibitions on bringing many species into the United States.

    All animals must have a medical examination before being able to enter the country. You must be aware that they may be denied to entry the United States, if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans.

  • Clothing:
  • There is no limit on how much clothing or fabric you can bring back, as long as it is for your personal use or as gifts. If you have exceeded your personal exemption, you may have to pay duty on the items.

    It seems like it's a lot of things to consider, right? Now you can see that importing goods into the U.S. it's not an easy task to go through, when you have so many other stuff to think about. The best you can do, if you want to send or receive goods in the United States without having to worry about all this regulations and paperwork yourself, is to hire a freight shipping company who offers you the greatest cargo services that takes care of your customs and advice you in this process.

Where Can I Find this Freight Shipping Company?

You've entered to the right website! You're reading this in the CA CARGO INC's site! We are an international freight shipping company with 16 years of experience and the best staff who are specialized in cargo services, such as transportation, repackaging, storage, and customs clearance.

With CA CARGO INC you won't have to worry about dealing with the exhaustive process of customs, we advise you on what's the best for you in customs respect and give you the best cargo services to ensure your package's safety and arrival to U.S. or other parts of the world.

Our international customs agents dispatch all merchandise and follow all regulations. Our team takes care of all documentation, inventory management and necessary procedures. We can comply with the most stringent customs requirements, and we continuously update our procedures to meet current rules and regulations.

If you are looking for an international freight shipping company that can help you get through customs and offers you the best cargo services, CA CARGO INC is your best option. For more information about our services or to request a quote, contact our specialists by filling out our contact form. Find us on Facebook as Ca Cargo Inc., and follow us on Twitter as @cacargoinc, and Instagram @cacargoinc.