Customs on hunting trophies

Hunting trophies are not only sought after by hunters but also by people wanting to give their home that unique rustic touch. But is it difficult to get one back to the States if you acquire one over here in Europe?

“There are generally no USDA restrictions on animal trophies that are fully-finished for display,” said Tim Sellman, director of the U.S. European Command’s Customs and Border Clearance Agency. He added that fully finished trophies are ones that are professionally mounted by a reputable taxidermist.

When it is time to ship your household goods, customs inspectors will examine the trophy for signs of tissue, blood, etc, and, if found, would look for evidence of the trophy being professionally finished. Paperwork from the taxidermist is the best way to confirm that the trophy meets requirements but even taxidermist placards or trademarks on the back of the mounts are helpful.

There are, however, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restrictions and prohibitions on the importation of mounted birds and animals, including elephant ivory, elephant parts, and products thereof. Importers contemplating entry into the CTUs of these items should contact the Customs Executive Agency to assist in obtaining detailed requirements from the Veterinary Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in advance of leaving the country of origin.

Federal Law and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora prohibit certain wildlife and wildlife parts and products. Elephant ivory, elephant parts, and products made thereof are prohibited unless from legally taken hunting trophies (hunting permits required) or antiques over 100 years old (documentation required). Wildlife and wildlife parts and products may be imported if specifically permitted by federal law and U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA, and CBP requirements if documentation (permits and certificates) is obtained and procedures followed. The Customs Executive Agency and/or USDA Advisor should be contacted prior to shipment.

For Information on bringing back your game or hunting trophy can be found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Information on Hunting and Fishing page. Currently, 14 ports of entry are designated to handle game and trophies; other ports must get approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to clear your entry. Depending on the species you bring back, you might need a permit from the country where the animal was harvested. Regardless of the species, you are required to fill out a Fish and Wildlife Form 3-177, Declaration for Importation or Exportation. Trophies may also be subject to inspection by CBP for sanitary purposes.

General guidelines for importing trophies can be found on under the APHIS Import Authorization System on the Guidelines for the Importation of Ruminant, Swine, and Bird Trophies page, or by writing to U.S. Department of Agriculture, APHIS, VS, Strategy & Policy, APIE, 4700 River Road, Unit 40, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231. You can also call (301) 851-3300, option 4.