Customs Regulations

US Customs allows each person over the age of 21 to bring 1L of liquor and 200 cigarettes into the US duty free. Agricultural items including meat, fruits, vegetables, plants and soil are prohibited. US citizens are allowed to import, duty free, up to $800 worth of gifts from abroad, while non-US citizens are allowed to import $100 worth. If you’re carrying more than $10,000 in US and foreign cash, traveler’s checks or money orders, you need to declare the excess amount. There is no legal restriction on the amount that may be imported, but undeclared sums in excess of $10,000 will probably be subject to investigation. If you’re bringing prescription drugs, make sure they’re in clearly marked containers. Obviously, leave the illegal narcotics at home. For updates, check www.cbp.gov.

Visas

The US Visa Waiver Program allows nationals of 38 countries to enter the US without a visa, but you must fill out an ESTA application before departing.

Visa Waiver Program

The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals from 38 countries to enter the US without a visa, provided you are carrying a machine-readable passport. For the up-to-date list of countries included in the program and current requirements, see the US Department of State (https://travel.state.gov) website.

Citizens of VWP countries need to register with the US Department of Homeland Security and fill out an ESTA application (Electronic System for Travel Authorization; www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta) before your visit. There is a $14 fee for registration; when approved, the registration is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Visas Required

You must obtain a visa from a US embassy or consulate in your home country if:

  • You do not currently hold a passport from a VWP country.
  • You are from a VWP country, but don’t have a machine-readable passport.
  • You are planning to stay longer than 90 days.
  • You are planning to work or study in the US.