Know before you go this summer

Robert Szostek
U.S. European Command Customs

People moving to the states this summer should start preparing now, customs officials advise. Find new homes for the things that are banned from import and apply now for import permits on restricted items since the process can take months.

“Prohibited items include plants, flammable substances, poisons, obscene publications, destructive devices, explosives, and meat and meat products such as sausage, paté and salami,” said Michael L. Burkert, U.S. European Command Customs and Border Clearance Agency director. “Shipping firearms? Ensure you have proof that you owned them in the states or an import permit,” Burkert added.

He also explained that other important points to remember are:
Owners of vehicles not made to U.S. standards have to ship them through commercial importers registered with the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency. However, vehicles more than 25 years old are exempt from that rule.

Mopeds and motorcycles must also meet U.S. safety and pollution standards and be free of dirt.
Wine collections can be shipped separately with some advance coordination with your transportation office and state alcohol control board.

Endangered species items, such as ivory and some furs, may only be shipped if you can prove you owned them previously in the states. Caviar may only be shipped if you can prove it was exported legally from the country of origin.

Prescription drugs and tobacco products are not allowed in your household goods but may be carried onto the plane when you fly home.

Your state attorney general must approve all imports of gambling devices that must also be registered with the Justice Department in Washington.

For more information, pick up pamphlets from a military customs office or check out the military customs Web site at