Whether on vacation or a business trip, a flight to the USA is not an everyday affair for most travelers. Especially when traveling to the USA, in addition to a valid ESTA, there are other sensitive entry as well as import regulations that you should adhere to in order to avoid difficulties at the airport.
Corona rules for entry into the USA
During the Corona pandemic, modified entry requirements apply to all international travelers entering the U.S. After the lifting of the entry restrictions on 8. November 2021, all international travelers were initially allowed to enter the U.S. with full vaccinations.
However, with the discovery of the new Omicron variant in South Africa, 29. November 2021, a new travel ban will be imposed on travelers from eight African countries. Guidelines for coronatests have also been tightened.
Entry into the USA is currently possible under the following conditions:
- Be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and have not been to Botswana, Eswatini (former Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe in the 14 days prior to travel
- You present a negative coronatest, which is not more than 24 hours old
For GreenCard holders, US citizens, travelers under 18 years of age and other groups of people there are exceptions to the currently valid Corona entry rules for the USA.
You can read more about the current regulations in our article USA-Travel and Corona.
The Corona Travel Ban has been lifted! Make your ESTA application now to be able to travel to the USA without a visa!
The official entry permit for the USA!
Fill out customs declaration for the USA
Depending on the airline, small blue cards are already distributed on the plane for customs declaration in the U.S. Alternatively, the information is provided at a self-service machine directly after arrival.
As soon as the traveler has collected his luggage from the baggage carousels after landing, customs inspection arrives. The completed customs declaration must be submitted here. Then there are usually two passages to go through before exiting:
- People who do not have goods that need to be registered with us or
- Persons who carry goods subject to declaration
You usually have to fill out the customs declaration when flying to the USA.
The goods to be declared are inspected there and duties and taxes are calculated, if applicable. the goods are confiscated.
Those flying to the USA with a German airline are usually given the German translation of the form. The instructions on the form should be read carefully and the questions answered truthfully.
Import regulations for food
In general, food may only be imported into the USA if it does not pose any health risks.
For example, the following foods are allowed in their original packaging:
- Candy and chocolate
- Baked goods
- Dried fruits
- Vegetable oils
- Pasta without egg
- Hard cheese
- Coffee and tea
In any case, all food must be declared upon arrival in the U.S., otherwise penalties of up to 10.000 USD threatens. Sniffer dogs are sometimes used at the airports, which are specially trained to detect food.
Unfortunately, baked goods may only be brought to the USA in their original packaging.
The following foodstuffs are definitely not allowed to be taken into the USA:
- Meat and meat products, neither fresh, nor dried or canned
- Animal products
- Plant seeds or tubers
- Fresh dairy products
- Children’s surprise eggs, as a candy contains non-edible objects that children could swallow
An exception may be made for a reasonable amount of milk or milk products if it is needed to prepare baby food.
Fruits and vegetables are also subject to import restrictions, but these change frequently. Therefore, travelers should inform themselves in advance on the website of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Attention: Food that has been distributed on the plane, such as apples or yogurt, may also not be taken into the USA, but must be consumed in advance.
Import regulations for tobacco, alcohol and gifts
Tobacco, alcohol and gifts of various kinds are often purchased by travelers at the airport duty-free store. However, one should be clear about the import regulations in advance. If these quantities are exceeded, high customs fees and taxes must be expected.
People over 18 years of age are allowed to bring the following quantities into the USA:
- ca. 250 g of tobacco,
- max. 200 cigarettes or
- max. 50 cigars
Over 21 year olds are also allowed to bring in:
- max. 1 l alcohol
Attention: The import of absinthe is generally prohibited, as it contains thujone.
Gifts are allowed in a value of maximum 100 USD. Since border control agents may want to examine them closely, gifts should not yet be finally wrapped.
Import regulations for money
Cash can usually be carried up to 10.000 USD may be taken into the USA. Foreign currencies, gold or securities should also be below this limit. Higher amounts must be declared to customs.
Cash amounts less than 10.000 USD do not have to be declared at customs.
Import regulations for medicines
Medication may only be brought into the USA in the quantities required for the stay.
Prescription drugs, which can be addictive, must be in the original packaging incl. Package inserts are. These include:
In addition, an appropriate English-language certificate from a doctor must be presented. Generally, no drugs or narcotics may be brought into the U.S.
Import regulations for pets
Pets, such as cats or dogs, are generally allowed to bring into the U.S. However, there are certain regulations to be observed, which come from both the airline and the U.S. Customs Service.
Each airline has its own regulations as to whether animals may be transported on the plane, under what conditions and what costs are involved. There are also limits on the maximum number of animals that can be carried in the cabin and baggage compartment. Therefore, you should check with your airline well in advance and, if necessary, register your pet in time.
For service dogs, z.B. guide dogs, different regulations apply.
The box in which the animal must be transported during the flight should be certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The size of the box depends on the size and weight of the animal. This must be large enough for the animal to stand up and turn around. Used boxes may also be used.
If the box fits under the front seat and the animal weighs less than 8 kg, it can also fly in the cabin with many airlines. Otherwise, the four-legged friend is considered an "accompanying animal" and must be transported in the air-conditioned baggage compartment.
Flying to the USA with your own dog is generally not a problem!
Dogs and cats need an English health certificate proving they have no diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
In addition, a dog must have the vaccination certificate or. pet passport must be carried. This must prove that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days and maximum 12 months before entering the USA.
exception: The animal has lived at least 6 months in an area that has been declared a rabies-free zone by the health service, z.B. Australia, or it is younger than 3 months and therefore may not yet be vaccinated. In this case it has to stay in quarantine in the USA until it is old enough to be vaccinated and then stay there for another 30 days.
Furthermore, depending on regional or current animal diseases, there are further regulations. If, for example, the dog comes from a country where there is an increased incidence of the screwworm fly, the veterinarian must prove in advance that there is no infestation.
At each entry the health condition of the animal is controlled. If it does not meet all health requirements, it may not enter and will be sent back at your expense.
If you want to travel with your dog or cat to Hawaii, Guam or American Samoa, you have to additionally 120 days in Quarantine leave.