Passports & US Customs
"In Order to Travel to and From Europe"
In order to travel to and
within Europe, all
U.S. citizens, including infants, require a valid U.S. passport.
The best time to apply
for passports is between September and December when agencies are less busy; apply several months prior to your
are applying for the first time or you need your passport urgently, you will have to make an appointment to
appear in person at a U.S. Passport Agency office, a courthouse or a post office authorized to process
an appointment, call the State Department's automated National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778. For urgent
renewals, you may be required to bring proof of your trip such as an airline confirmation number and expect
to pay an increased expedite fee.
U.S. Dept of State
required for holders of U.S. passports on short-term visits (less than 90 days) by any member countries of the
European Travel Commission with the exception of Turkey.
For Turkey, a visa is
available upon entry or in advance through the Consular Office of the Turkish Embassy in the U.S.
List of European Travel
Commission Countries that do not require travel visas for short term visits (90 days or less)
Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Macedonia, Georgia, Germany,
Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia,
Slovak, Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.
Further information is
available on the individual countries’ tourism website or you can check with the country’s embassy in the U.S.
Note: US Embassies and
Consulates are listed in the resource guide.
Bringing back a
luggage-full of goodies is one of the great pleasures of visiting Europe, but it pays to be aware of any customs
requirements upon your return.
The U.S. Customs
regulations Department has strict rules and regulations and these vary from country to
country. Follow these guidelines to make sure you can actually
bring home the items you purchase.
Prior to your departure,
you may want to register certain items you take abroad with you such as laptops,
cameras or watches, so that when returning home you will not be subject to a duty on them. Registration
can be done with Customs at the international airport from which you are departing. This is not essential but can give you “peace of mind.”
U.S. Customs offers this advice: “If you’re bringing it back with you, and you
didn’t have it when you left, and its total value is more than your exemption, it is subject to duty.”
On your return flight
back to the USA, you will be asked to fill out form I-94 detailing the value of your purchases. Visitors who have
been abroad at least 48 hours and have not made a claim for exemption in the past 30 days can return home with up
to $800 per person in purchases without paying any duty.
A flat rate of 10 percent will be charged
on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. After that, the levies vary according to the article.
If you do owe duty, it is
payable upon your arrival in the U.S. in cash (U.S. currency only) or by personal check in the exact amount, drawn
on a U.S. bank, made payable to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Some
limits on certain items are very specific.
Food items can be the
trickiest items to bring home unless they include baked goods, sweets or chocolates, which are simple to import.
Avoid bringing home meats, fruits or vegetables, and, while dairy items such as milk, yogurt and hard cheese are
allowed, soft cheeses such as Brie and ricotta are not.
It is wise to study the
I-94 customs form prior to leaving for your trip. The form will be
handed out to passengers on the flight returning to the USA and you will have to complete
it before landing. You will present the I-94 to US custom agents along
with your passport.
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