Bringing back souvenirs and US Customs?

Discussion in 'Before & After the Hunt' started by desertloper, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. desertloper

    desertloper AH Veteran

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    What is the protocol for bringing back animal/plant souvenirs from Africa into the US?

    Specifically tanned skins, coral/hair bracelets, carved wood, etc.

    I know that our taxidermy mounts will have to be cleared through customs when they come through in a year-but the items above I would like to carry back at the conclusion of our safari.

    Is there documentation that I need to get from the US before we leave, or things we need to do in RSA before we bring them back.

    We had some friends who had a set of quills siezed-the last thing I want to do is throw away several hundred $$$ of tanned skins because I don't have the correct paperwork.
     

  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Everything has to be cleared through customs!

    Prohibited and Restricted Items - CBP.gov

    Biologicals
    You may need a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit and/or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention permit to import biological specimens including bacterial cultures, culture medium, excretions, fungi, arthropods, mollusks, tissues of livestock, birds, plants, viruses, or vectors for research, biological or pharmaceutical use. Permit requirements are located under æ’¤ermits on the USDA Web site and CDC permit information can be found on the Etiologic Agent Import Permit Program page. ( APHIS - Permits ) ( Etiologic Agent Import Permit Program )




    Fish and Wildlife
    Certain fish and wildlife, and products made from them, are subject to import and export restrictions, prohibitions, permits or certificates, as well as requirements. CBP recommends that you contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before you depart if you plan to import or export any of the following:

    Wild birds, land or marine mammals, reptiles, fish, shellfish, mollusks or invertebrates;
    Any part or product of the above, such as skins, tusks, bone, feathers, or eggs; or
    Products or articles manufactured from wildlife or fish.
    Endangered wildlife species, and products made from them, generally may not be imported or exported. You will need a permit from the FWS to import virtually all types of ivory, unless it is from a warthog. The FWS has many restrictions and prohibitions on various kinds of ivory - Asian elephant, African elephant, whale, rhinoceros, seal, pre-Endangered Species Act, post-CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and many others - and urge you to contact them before you acquire ivory in a foreign country. You may contact the Management Authority at 1-800-358-2104. Pressing Option 3 will provide you with general information, and Option 4 will connect you to the permits section. You can also get information on permits. ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Permits )

    You may import an object made of ivory if it is an antique. To be an antique the ivory must be at least 100 years old. You will need documentation that authenticates the age of the ivory. You may import other antiques containing wildlife parts with the same condition, but they must be accompanied by documentation proving they are at least 100 years old. Certain other requirements for antiques may apply.

    If you plan to buy such things as tortoiseshell jewelry, or articles made from whalebone, ivory, skins or fur, contact the:

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    Division of Law Enforcement
    P.O. Box 3247
    Arlington, VA 22203-3247

    You can also call 1-800-358-2104 or visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site. ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ) Hunters can get information on the limitations for importing and exporting migratory game birds from this office as well or from the Migratory Birds page. ( Migratory Birds )

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated specific ports of entry to handle fish and wildlife entries. If you plan to import anything discussed in this section, please contact CBP about designated ports and the brochure Pets and Wildlife, which describes the regulations CBP enforces for all agencies that oversee the importation of animals.

    Some states have fish and wildlife laws and regulations that are stricter than federal laws and regulations. If you are returning to such a state, be aware that the stricter state laws and regulations have priority. Similarly, the federal government does not allow you to import wild animals into the United States that were taken, killed, sold, possessed or exported from another country if any of these acts violated foreign laws.

    Game and Hunting Trophies
    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. ( Information on Hunting and Fishing ) 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. ( USFWS Form 3-177 )

    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 (IAS) on the Guidelines for the Importation of Ruminant, Swine, and Bird Trophies page, or by writing to:

    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    APHIS, VS, NCIE Products Program
    4700 River Road, Unit 40
    Riverdale, MD 20737-1231

    You can also call (301) 734-3277. ( Guidelines for the Importation of Ruminant, Swine, and Bird Trophies )

    Nonhuman primate trophy materials may require a permit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prospective importers of nonhuman primate trophy materials from nonhuman primates should review the permit requirements and complete an application form, following the Guidance for Individuals Wishing to Import Non-Human Primate Trophies, Skins or Skulls. ( Guidance for Individuals Wishing to Import Non-Human Primate Trophies, Skins or Skulls ) Trophy materials of other animals under import embargo because of viral zoonotic infections, such as civets, Asian birds, and African rodents, may be imported if the body has been sufficiently processed to render it non-infectious. Proper methods of accomplishing this include:

    Heating to an internal temperature of 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) or placing in boiling water for a minimum of 30 minutes);
    Preservation in 2 percent formaldehyde;
    Chemically treating in acidic or alkaline solutions (soaking in a solution below pH 3.0 or above pH 11.5 for 24 hours); or
    The use of hypertonic salts.
    Also, federal regulations do not allow the importation of any species into a state with fish or wildlife laws that are more restrictive than federal laws. If foreign laws were violated in the taking, sale, possession or export to the United States of wild animals, those animals will not be allowed entry into the United States.

    Warning: There are many regulations, enforced by various agencies, governing the importation of animals and animal parts. Failure to comply with them could result in time-consuming delays in clearing your trophy through CBP. You should always call for guidance before you depart.
     
    Badger Matt likes this.

  3. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for posting this information BRICKBURN!
     

  4. 35bore

    35bore AH Legend

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    I guess I would go with what brick posted. I got lucky ( ignorance is bliss ) or like I said ( Lucky ) I came back with several wooden articles and some tapestries from Zambia and Botswana (masks' and a native drum set for my son) and never got stopped through customs in any country.

    We also came back with so SA wine, got lucky I suppose.
     

  5. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I have never had to pay customs for anything brought back either. Rarely even have to open my gun case but more so now than in the past when they didnt even bother. Now mostly they want to see your customs form and they ask if it matches your gun, you say yes without hesitation and they wave you thru.
     

  6. desertloper

    desertloper AH Veteran

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    Thanks guys for the info. I'm really interested to see what others experiences have been in bringing items back.

    I have an email into the F&W after I read the same material posted here..but who knows how long it will take to get a response.

    I'm just trying to cover the angles beforehand. I could always put it in the crate..but then I'd have to wait 12 months.
     

  7. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Fanatic

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    Resurrecting old thread. My wife would like a couple zebra hides. Readily available for sale and I've got my trophy zebras already so no perticular need to shoot another and wait a year. Anyone pick one up at the airport or wherever and bring it home?
     

  8. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I have seen them in OR Tambo airport for sale at the "Out of Africa" store, which is in the secured part of the international terminal. I want to say they were about 22,000 rand or about $1700 USD. Not cheap, but less than trophy fee, taxidermist, etc.

    Found this place online: https://shop.outsourcesol.com/

    Don't know anything about them but prices look about right and if it's delivered to your US address, then pretty hassle free.

    Screenshot (135).png
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2017

  9. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I had my souvenirs shipped back with my taxidermy work couple years ago. Just included a copy of the bill with the trophies. No plants or vegetation just your normal wood type souvenirs etc.
     

  10. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    This is a bit of an old thread, but still relevant for sure.

    I brought back souvenirs (curios) such as a hand carved wooden jewelry box, wooden carved cane, bone handled bottle opener and a few other small items, all packed in my gun case (tuffpak). Was never asked and never had a problem.
     

  11. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Fanatic

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    I decided for the asking price for ready to go hides it was more fun to shoot my own for not much more money.
     

  12. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Bert I have taken the zebras and had them tanned then made into rugs fir far less. The ones who n the airport are tanned and that's it. So like you I decided to shoot my own to made into rugs.
     

  13. Badger Matt

    Badger Matt AH Veteran

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    I bought an impala skin at the airport for my South African neighbors and declared it on my customs form. No questions asked and no problems on my end.
     

  14. Whiskey1

    Whiskey1 AH Veteran

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    We brought back wooden souvenirs, porcupine quills, warthog tusks, ostrich bone chopsticks, and a few other trinkets in a locked hard pelican checked bag that also held clothes, boots, etc. No forms, no declarations, no issues. I hope I did everything right.
     

  15. Therack

    Therack AH Enthusiast

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    I had a snow globe confiscated by the TSA in Atlanta upon return from RSA.
     

  16. Whiskey1

    Whiskey1 AH Veteran

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    Too many ounces of liquid for a carry on and you had a cooncting flight?
     

  17. Eric Anderson

    Eric Anderson AH Enthusiast

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    TSA does not make any sort of rational discussions, they confiscated my little brothers tube of toothpaste before, he had a M249 SAW along with 2 belts of ammo slung over his shoulder....
    as to bringing stuff back, I brought back a 60 lb chunk of lead wood in my rifle case last trip back. Customs gave me the stink eye after nearly throwing his back out lifting my rifle, but nothing else was said.
     

  18. Ryan

    Ryan AH Fanatic

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    TSA and Customs are two entirely different agencies. Equating the two and making comparisons is liable to get one or both irritated.

    The snow globe would get confiscated due to too much liquid just like a full water bottle or tube of tooth paste could/should. Sure, you think it's ridiculous, but many explosives are now liquids. Get it?

    The gun and ammo are totally different deal at a different check point.
     
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  19. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    The tricky part is the declaration. When you enter the country, you are asked to declare items or to affirm you have nothing - typically exceeding $800 in value - to declare. Depending on port of entry, that is done either on a paper form or through the new automated system. (So yes, Whiskey1 you did make a declaration whether you realized it or not - obviously a negative one, and simply didn't win the lottery to be inspected). If you bring something back on the forbidden list, and don't declare it, (put it in the rifle case for instance, and don't mention it on your declaration) then you have "lied" on the form and to customs. You have just committed a felony. Sort of the equivalent of a General Flynn moment. You are technically smuggling. Customs will probably just seize it, but then again, maybe you are the guy they want to make an example of that day. In the current environment, be very careful of elephant hair bracelets, elephant hide gun cases, and elephant hide Courtney boots. Even if you already own the item, bring it with you and then attempt to bring it back into the country, you are risking seizure. As noted above, you will not see TSA when re-entering the country - you are dealing with customs. They are much more interested in catching drug smugglers and the like, but why give them an excuse to charge you. If you have a connecting flight, depending on the airport, you may be required to go back through a TSA checkpoint.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
    sierraone likes this.

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