Customs pamphlet can ease holiday mail rush

Each day, CBP helps to prevent the intentional and  unintentional introduction of potentially harmful plant pests and foreign animal diseases from  entering the U.S. In this photo, CBP agents inspect mail at a Cleveland, Ohio,  facility. Photo by Brian Bell.

Each day, CBP helps to prevent the intentional and unintentional introduction of potentially harmful plant pests and foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S. Here, CBP agents inspect mail at a Cleveland, Ohio, facility. Photo by Brian Bell.

By Robert Szostek
U.S. Army Europe Office of the Provost Marshal Public Affairs

Mailing packages stateside from Europe involves many prohibitions, restrictions and import duty rules. U.S. personnel can avoid the pitfalls by getting the “Know Before You Go ” pamphlet from a military customs office.

“Many people do not know that Customs and Border Protection may fine you at least $100 if you mail meat or any meat products to the States,” said Scott Sanner, U.S. Department of Agriculture adviser at the U.S. European Command Customs and Border Clearance Agency. Banned products include canned meats, pâté, salami, sausage and soup mixes containing meat. It is also illegal to mail handguns, alcoholic beverages and a whole list of other items to the United States. Other articles may need special import permits.

A customs declaration must be fixed to every parcel going to the States and falsifying it is a federal crime.

“You must also realize that foreign-made goods sent to the United States may be subject to the payment of duty,” said Mike Dean, director of the CBCA. “Even if you mail the items to yourself or buy them in a military exchange, the recipient may still have to pay duty and the customs user fee.”

U.S. residents may receive up to $100 worth of foreign-made goods per day, but have to pay duty on the total value of gifts exceeding that amount.

The Know Before You Go pamphlet is available at any military customs office and online here.

The U.S. Forces Customs Office in Stuttgart  is located in Building 2913, Panzer Kaserne. The phone number is 431-2657/2731 or civ. 07031-15-2657/2731.