For many tourists photos and memories are not enough. It is souvenirs that prove you have been there! While choosing them, however, you need to remember that national regulations are getting stricter and stricter. So if you think you can take something home because it’s unique, you can soon be in trouble.
As a rule, endangered species of plants and animals must not be taken anywhere. They are on the CITES list, containing as many as 34,000 species. Moreover, this does not only refer to animals that are alive, but also to stuffed ones, framed butterflies, decorative bird feathers or any products based on parts of endangered animals, including food, medications or cosmetics.
For some time there has been a tendency to ban bringing in too much food, especially if this is not the common supply one might need for the time of the journey. Many countries have also banned taking out shells or even beach pebble stones.
Statistically, top of the list of items taken over by the border control include shells, bones and leather products made of endangered animals. Sometimes they come across live animals (especially birds) and some rare plants species. But loss of your souvenir is not the worst scenario. Smuggling such forbidden items is punishable with a fine, ranging depending on a country, or even imprisonment.
We have chosen some of the most popular tourist destinations. Please find out what you can bring along with you from there, of course apart from photos and souvenirs!
Apart from the above mentioned species of plants and animals facing extinction and any products based on them, there are quite a few things that have to stay in Turkey. These include items older than 100 years, minerals, and fakes of popular brands. Interestingly, Turkey allows only 1.5 kilo of genuine coffee, 1.5 kilo of instant coffee and 500 grams of tea for tourists leaving the country!
Egypt has got similar policy to Turkey in reference to minerals and antiques. You are also not allowed to take shells or pieces of the local coral reef. Contrary to what many tourists think, fakes can also be confiscated, though it is not a common practice. Egyptian customs officers are also very sensitive to attempts of smuggling large quantities of medications and cleaning agents.
Apart from shells, stones, animals and plants, for some it has also been illegal to take… beach sand as doing so is considered theft! It must be pointed out here that so far it applies to Italian islands only, not the mainland part of the country.
Spain and Greece
The restrictions are fairly similar to other countries, cracking down on endangered species, shells and minerals found on the beach.
Let’s move on to somewhere away from Europe.
Coming back from China, you need to make sure that your luggage does not contain creams, ointments or powders that are based on animals. Although Asian cosmetics are very popular, you have to remember that the Chinese ones differ a lot from the original Korean ones. To play safe, just don’t bring them at all.
Forget ivory, reptile leather or turtle shells. Also take out of your luggage any antiques older than 100 years. You must not bring any gold or silver unless these are items of personal use.
There is no way you can bring any data storage devices. Forget CDs, DVDs, cassettes or magazines?
There is just one thing that occupies my mind – how on earth can you take your camera memory card with you?
Whenever I think of Thailand, that reminds the Bridget Jones 2 scene where the main character brings in a snake bowl of drugs. Of course these substances are illegal and we will face severe consequences just like anywhere else.
The black list also includes animals and plants as well as figures of Buddha (excluding the small ones bought at local street markets).
This place reminds me of some elderly gentlemen sitting on a beach and smoking local cigars. This symbol of Cuba is tempting for all tourists. However, you must not take with you more than 50 pieces. Of course always keep the check – never throw them away, they can come in handy at the airport!
If you would like some alcohol, this must not be more that 6 bottles. Once again, plants and animals are strictly forbidden, you can take with you up to three big sea shells. Gold and silver need the permission of the national bank while antiques have to be approved by the ministry of culture.
Peru and Equador
You may have problems at the customs if you carry plants, animals or souvenirs pretending to be pre-Columbian items. If you have anything like this, make sure you have got the proof of purchase.
No food can be brought from there. If you want some alcohol souvenirs, this must be less than a liter. Although RSA is famous for its diamond mines, not even a single stone can be part of your luggage. In addition, ivory and leather items are strictly banned. Only certified sellers can provide you with a document letting you take it home.
Have you been dreaming of a belt or shoes made of snake skin? Or perhaps an orchid to plant in your garden! You’d better wake up. An attempt to take it home can have some really bad consequences. Clothes and gadgets made of snake skin, crocodile skin, turtle shells, ivory or lemur furs may cost you far more that their retail price. If you want to bring a souvenir with you, make sure that the product comes with a sticker issued by the local ministry of culture (pay attention especially to wooden products)