Illegal souvenirs. It's good to know what not to bring from your vacation

Posted by Beach Direction on 26th Jun 2022

Illegal souvenirs. It's good to know what not to bring from your vacation

Many people are yet to set off on a foreign holiday, from which, in addition to a tan, photos and beautiful memories, they will want to bring souvenirs. It turns out that we often stock up on various goods without even knowing whether their transport is legal.

Have you ever thought that during your holiday abroad at a local bazaar you found a wonderful original souvenir that you wanted to buy and take home with you at all costs? I'm not talking about souvenirs like a magnet, mug or beads, but more fancy souvenirs. Snake skin purse? Reptile alcohol in a bottle? Or maybe an exotic shell or a leather belt? On the border you can often encounter unpleasantness because of it.

Bringing holiday souvenirs can be risky - especially when we come back from countries outside the European Union. It is worth knowing that since 1973 there has been such a thing as a convention on international trade in endangered species of wild animals and plants. It is also known as the Washington Convention or CITES for short. It contains a list of 34 thousand. species of plants and animals that are under strict protection.

The European Union countries are covered by the customs union, which means that the transport of items between EU countries is practically not subject to any restrictions (apart from alcohol and tobacco products), although they cannot be intended for sale. Only personal use items or gifts may be voluntarily transported across EU borders. Much more restrictive rules apply to the import of items from outside the EU between EU countries.

The law is very strict on protected plants and animals. Their transport is possible only upon presentation of previously issued CITES documents. Similar permits are necessary in the event of any relics being exported outside Poland or a document confirming the lack of the need for such a permit. However, you cannot bring into the European Union works of art and antiques, such as: paintings, drawings and pastels made by hand, archaeological items older than one hundred years, books older than one hundred years or incunabula and manuscripts older than 50 years and not belonging to their authors .

You cannot transport items made of the skin of wild animals (including wolves, bears, crocodiles), shell-type souvenirs, corals, medicinal products containing animal derivatives. The restrictions also apply to weapons, food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. For example, you can bring to Poland up to 200 cigarettes from a non-EU country and up to 1 liter * of spirits with an alcoholic strength * above 22%. * Persons entering Poland from outside the EU are also required to inform about the amount * of gold and platinum imported into the country and the amount of foreign currency, if their amount exceeds 10,000. euro.

Even if you are 100% sure that the souvenir you bought is legal, you may still have a trouble at the border. For example, in South American countries such as Peru or Ecuador, the sale of souvenirs that imitate the products of pre-Columbian cultures - ceramics or jewelry - is quite popular. When buying such an item, we must remember to keep the proof of purchase. Removal of genuine cultural goods is forbidden, and some of the imitations can be very well done, so without a receipt, it is often a miracle to convince the customs officer.

From Mexico, it is forbidden to both take out and bring in fresh food. The same applies to low-processed food, any home-made product, seeds and plants. It is forbidden to transport meat, both raw and packaged, also dry meat will not pass.

As mentioned before, it is not possible to export items imitating products of pre-Columbian cultures from Peru and Ecuador. You can take no more than 50 cigars from Cuba, not forgetting the proof of purchase, and 6 bottles of spirits (there is no point in taking the opportunity, because we will bring a maximum of 1 liter of strong alcohol to Europe anyway). There is a categorical ban on the export of protected animals (iguanas, turtles, crocodiles, parrots, snakes, rare frogs ). The Cuban authorities also imposed a law deciding on the export of works of art only with the approval of the Ministry of Culture. As for shells, only 3 large specimens can be taken from this country. You will need a license to export larger quantities of silver and gold.

Souvenirs that cannot be taken from Africa

Even though Africa is a continent famous for diamonds, nothing that has not been polished before must not be exported. Under no circumstances should you try to transport souvenirs made of ivory or other animals. This also applies to haberdashery products made of leather. The export of leather goods is possible if the goods have a hunting trophy certificate and the seller has a license to trade in this type of goods.

Things you can't take from Asia

We will also not take silver or gold from India, unless they are personal items. Difficulties will also arise when trying to transport antiques over a hundred years old and items made of turtle shells, ivory or reptilian skins. In Thailand, smuggling of the Buddha image is prohibited, and Vietnam even regulates the export and import of all information carriers (CDs, cassettes, newspapers, books). In China, however, you have to be careful when buying paramedical products. All types of ointments, creams or powders may contain ingredients of animal origin and therefore fall under CITES regulations. Trying to transport them may be punished.

Before buying an exotic souvenir, check on your airline's website what products you are allowed to bring in your baggage. It is also worth checking the information at , you can also find there a list of species whose transport to Europe is prohibited or requires special permits.

Always make sure twice that you are allowed to bring the purchased souvenir to your country, otherwise you may be exposed to high costs (penalties for transporting protected species) and unnecessary stress.

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