Allowed Items

What you can and can't bring into the U.S.

All countries have a list of items you aren't allowed to bring across the border. Whether you're staying only a few days, or plan to make the U.S. your home, don't bring banned items into the country. Penalties range from having the goods confiscated, to being denied entry or even being arrested.

What items are banned?
While items like knives, weapons, flammable liquids and illegal drugs are obviously prohibited, the U.S. also bans less obvious items. Innocent items can carry diseases and result in stiff penalties. To be safe, do not bring:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat or meat products (including dried, canned and fresh)
  • Dairy (although some cheese is permitted)
  • Products made of dog or cat hair, wildlife
  • Plants and seeds

What can I bring on a plane with me these days?

Although many countries prohibited liquids and gels after a recent bomb threat, the regulations have relaxed. Since this could change at any time, be sure to check with your airport before flying. If you aren't sure about an item, place it in your checked luggage.

As of September 26, 2006 , what passengers can bring on the plane with them varies depending on whether they brought the items with them or purchased them inside the airport after having passed through security.

Items you can bring with you (examined at security):

  • Three ounces (per container) of liquid and gel products (shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel). These containers must be placed in a sealed, clear plastic bag and total no more than a quart.
  • Enough baby formula and breast milk for the flight, but only if your baby is traveling with you.
  • Liquid prescription medicine: the name on the bottle must match your ticket.
  • Up to four ounces (120 ml) of essential non-prescription liquid medications.
  • Gel-filled bras and medical gel prosthetics.
  • Solid cosmetics and personal hygiene items (tube lipstick, solid deodorant, lip balm). Note: liquid, gel or aerosol versions are not permitted.

Once you have passed through security, you can purchase:

  • A beverage, any size
  • Other liquid or gel products inside the terminal

These are allowed inside the plane with you, since they were purchased in a secure area. However, if you purchase your coffee or bottled water outside security, prepare to leave it at the scanner.

Can I bring prescription drugs with me?
Yes, but to avoid problems you should:

  • Declare all medications and medical devices to the customs official.
  • Keep all medications with you in your carry-on luggage.
  • Keep prescription medications in their original containers.
  • Bring only enough for personal use to last the trip.
  • Carry a prescription or written statement from your doctor. The statement should say that the medication or device is necessary for your health and was prescribed by a doctor for you.