Hints Of Passing Foreign Customs
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
On the whole foreign customs regulations are less exacting than those of the United States. Nevertheless frontier formalities are one of the chief drawbacks to travel for pleasure. The more the baggage and the wider the travels the more troublesome are customs examinations, of course. For those who are obviously tourists, and especially those who have only the suitcase and handbag already recommended; the passing of most frontiers will not be arduous.
Above all be courteous and leisurely with foreign customs officials. Gruffness and rush will be misunderstood. Hand baggage is inspected at the port of arrival; trunks may be sent in bond to Paris or London and examined at the respective railway stations. Certain agencies in Europe, and a very few in other foreign lands, will handle baggage which the owner may not wish to accompany, but they must be entrusted with the keys in order that examination may take place at each frontier. In virtually all other cases the individual must be present at the examination of his baggage. An exception to this is that the guard on some through European expresses is permitted to act as proxy for a sleeping passenger.
Personal effects may enter almost any country free of duty—if accompanied by the owner. Even soiled linen may be subjected to payment if sent by mail or express. Do not ask the favor of not being obliged to open anything. This may result in a meticulous jumbling of all your packing. Be the first to have all your bags or trunks wide open and you are likely to escape quickly with a perfunctory glance. In many cases it is wise to button-hole an idle inspector, but do not expect unseemly haste in attending to your desires. Travelers have been known to find a gratuity advantageous in dealing with foreign customs officers, but the safest rule for the inexperienced is not to risk this. An open countenance and a cheerful, respectful demeanor are usually preferable.
PROHIBITED IMPORTATIONS in various countries include :
Tobacco in quantities, in almost all countries. Great Britain allows free of duty one-half pound of cigars, cigarettes, or smoking tobacco, 2 pints of spirits, 1 pint of liquor or perfume. All these must be declared. Foreign reprints of English books, if recognized, are confiscated. Habit forming drugs are forbidden entrance. France allows twenty cigars or cigarettes, if declared. Patent medicines, perfumes, playing cards, spirits, matches, soap in quantities, and typewriters are prohibited there. In many countries matches are a government monopoly and are not admitted in more than vest-pocket amount. Spirits, perfumes, candy, and alcohol are the chief forbidden articles in most European countries. Holland and Belgium are lenient, allowing any average box of cigars, if opened. Germany forbids tobacco, spirits, or candy in any form, also toys; Italy includes marmalade with most of the above articles; a few cigars, a little tobacco, etc., will pass. On the French-Spanish border women inspectors have been known to search thoroughly suspects of their own sex. Few Americans, however, will be mistaken for smugglers. Japan forbids the entrance of American apples, but is on the whole lenient. In South America rules change frequently, but the sometimes exacting regulations need not trouble the average traveler or mere tourist. China is virtually wide-open to the foreigner, unless individual military dictators are for the moment rampant. There are no longer the irksome import and export restrictions on money in passing the German frontier, but in some European countries it is still well to declare upon entering the actual money in the traveler's possession, since in some cases only limited sums can be taken out Of the country. Here is one of the several reasons why travel checks are advisable.
Travelers leaving Germany should declare, and pay duty on, all articles purchased in that country. Failure to comply with this regulation may result in a fine and confiscation of such articles.