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Banned in the USA: 12 Forbidden Products

Getting Past Customs


We may be a free and open country, but there are still plenty of items that can’t be brought into or sold in America. In some cases, the reason for this is health-related and in other cases, it has to do with our political relationship to the country of origin. But some of the forbidden items on this list seem pretty random at best.

Photo Credit: iBjorn

Haggis


It’s a great delicacy in the U.K., but here in the U.S., if you say haggis to people on the street, you will only get one of two responses: “Huh?” or “Yuck.” Haggis has been banned from the U.S. for more than two decades because of health fears over its ingredients. The dish is traditionally made out of sheep innards, including the intestines, heart and perhaps most problematically, the lungs. (There is a ban in the U.S. on all food made with lungs.) As we reported recently, there were rumors that this ban would be lifted, but the Department of Agriculture has since denied this. So for the time being, you’ll have to get your authentic haggis abroad.

Photo Credit: smudie

Chicken Soup


Haggis isn’t the only food that gets tossed out at the border. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), any prepared food containing meat products, including “soup mixes” is not allowed in the U.S. So, if you’re visiting your grandma abroad for some of her delicious chicken soup, make sure you finish it all while you’re there.

As a side note, rice is apparently a dubious product as well because it “can often harbor insects.” However, the CBP stops short of saying it’s banned and merely cautions travelers to “avoid bringing it into the United States.”

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Cuban Cigars


Sadly, you’ll have to find another way to look cool while playing poker. Because of America’s long-standing embargo with Cuba, there is a total ban on these cigars being brought into the country. According to the CBP, it is also illegal to acquire these cigars from other countries like Canada. The CBP also notes that the number of “attempted importations” of Cuban cigars has increased in recent years. But be warned: anyone caught trying to find a way around the embargo can be fined as much as $55,000 and might even get some jail time.

Photo Credit: Steve Burt

Blank CDs From Iran


As with Cuba, the U.S. has strict sanctions on what can be brought in from Iran. According to the CBP, it’s OK to import carpets and certain foods, as well as “informational materials” like books and music. But for some reason, there is a specific ban on blank tapes and CDs.

Photo Credit: bobbigmac

Absinthe


This is one of the more legendary products to be banned from the U.S. Absinthe was banned outright for almost a century, but in 2007, the U.S. started to allow the product to flow stateside. However, as Time magazine notes, it’s still not the authentic absinthe. The reason the drink was so notorious was because of an ingredient called wormwood, which contains the chemical thujone, and can reportedly cause hallucinations. But absinthe with traces of this chemical is still banned in America.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

Knockoff Brands


Throw away that bag of coffee you bought in the Bucksstar Coffee joint in China. It’s illegal to bring knockoff brands across the border. According to the CBP, “Articles bearing marks that are counterfeit or inappropriately using a federally registered trademark are subject to seizure and forfeiture.”

Photo Credit: goooder

Dog and Cat Fur Products


Any product that is made out of dog or cat fur is banned from the U.S. More surprising than this is the fact that the the ban is pretty recent, enacted back in 2000. The reason behind it is simply a disdain for the abuse of millions of dogs and cats who are mistreated in the fur trade.

On another note, there is also an ongoing debate over banning particular breeds of dogs in the states, like pit bull terriers.

Photo Credit: theowl84

Firearms


You just can’t take guns anywhere these days, can you? If you really want to bring in weapons from abroad, you have to do it through a “licensed importer, dealer or manufacturer.” And if you do get it back into the U.S., just make sure you don’t get drunk while you’re carrying it, or you could be in a serious trouble.

Photo Credit: tanvach

Game and Hunting Trophies


As long as we’re on the topic of shooting stuff, there are a crazy amount of restrictions and caveats for bringing in game and hunting trophies from other countries. There are only a few ports in the U.S. that can be used to import these goods, and if you are going to a state that has particularly strict wildlife laws, you won’t be allowed in. Similarly, if the country you are leaving has laws against you possessing that animal, you won’t be allowed into the U.S. with it. So here’s an idea: How about you just bring in a real trophy instead of an animal’s head.

Photo Credit: equality

Flavored Cigarettes


Last year, the FDA banned the buying and selling of most flavored cigarettes including cloves because it makes cigarettes more enticing to young people. (The one big holdout was cigarettes that are menthol flavored.) So, anyone entering the U.S. is prohibited from importing these cigarettes.

Photo Credit: viima

Amy Winehouse


Yes, we know, Amy Winehouse isn’t actually a product, but it’s just too hard not to make a list of things banned from America without including her. Amy has applied for visas to stay in the U.S. multiple times in the past couple years, and has been repeatedly denied. In 2008, she wanted to attend the Grammys but was refused entry because of her history of drug use. Last year, she tried again and was denied because she had recently assaulted a fan.

According to U.K. publication The Sun, she is still working hard to sort this out so she can record an album in the states. Poor Amy, she just can’t catch a break.

Photo Credit: nuflicks

Apple and Nokia?


The two tech giants have been squabbling for weeks over claims that one has violated the others patents. Recently, Nokia took it up a notch and submitted a request to the International Trade Commission to ban Apple imports into the U.S. Apple, deciding to forfeit the higher ground, responded in kind. If these companies have their way, Americans might soon be stuck with Motorola only.

Photo Credit: nDevilTV and LanceClub

More Bans


For a comprehensive list of items that are banned or restricted in the U.S., check out the Customs and Border Protection’s list.

Also, if you've ever had a bad or strange experience bringing something back through customs, let us know in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

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