Souvenirs That Could Land You In Jail

a group of chocolate eggs
Image from Thrillist

In recent years we’ve been bringing back less and less souvenirs from our trips. On many of them we don’t even buy a single thing. We do like to get Lucas a little toy during our travels so he has something new and exciting to play with. We also bring back some local snacks on occasion but I’m not really sure if that would be considered a souvenir since they get consumed, eliminating the collectable aspect.

I’m sure most of you know not to bring home meat, fruits, vegetables and cultural artifacts among many other things but what about souvenirs that could really get you into trouble?

Thrillist has a post about 8 Souvenirs That Could Land You In Jail. From the list, I have to admit that I have brought back 2, possibly 3 of the items listed. One of them I brought back earlier this year. I didn’t know that they weren’t allowed so I guess that I can say I got very lucky not getting caught. (More on what I brought back later.)

Here are the 8 Souvenirs that can get you in jail:

  1. Knockoffs– Anything under US trademark law can be confiscated  and  you can also be fined. (One of my favorite knockoffs I’ve ever came across were GK jeans in Hong Kong)
  2. Dog and Cat Fur– Clothes in some countries might be mislabeled, using dog and cat fur. If caught with dog or cat fur a minimum $3,000 fine can be handed out.
  3. Haggis– Food items including sheep’s lung has been banned by the U.S. government.
  4. Raw Ackee– Jamaica’s national fruit can be poisonous if not prepared correctly.
  5. Real Absinthe– Customs will take bottles containing more than 10 parts per million of thujone which is a chemical component in wormwood. Absinthe can not be the brand name and the term “cannot stand alone” on the label
  6. Haitian Animal Hide Drums– Have been previously linked to cases of anthrax and the CDC restricts entry of animal hide drums from Haiti if they have not been processed in a way that renders them non-infectious
  7. Kinder Surprise Eggs– Kinder Eggs were banned by the government due to the dangerous toys inside which could be a choking hazard. If caught with an egg, each one could cost $2,500.
  8. Cuban Cigars– Or any merchandise from embargoed countries (Cuba, Iran, Burma & most of Sudan)

I brought back 2-3 of these items and (luckily) have never had any problems.

Here is what I’ve brought back:

  • Haggis– During a trip to Scotland I decided to bring back a can of Haggis (which also came in a very nice box) as a souvenir. I didn’t know that it was illegal and I actually still have it which is pretty impressive considering I bought it around 13-14 years ago.
  • Real Absinthe– I brought back a bottle of Absinthe for a friend from Prague. I am pretty sure that it was the real deal but can’t be 100% sure since I don’t have it anymore.
  • Kinder Surprise Eggs– I  brought back 2 two packs of Kinder Eggs from one of our trips to Europe earlier in the year. I had no clue that they were illegal and could come with a hefty fine. If my Kinder Eggs were caught, they could’ve cost me $10,000.

Have you brought back any of the off-limits souvenirs mentioned in this post? If so what did you bring back and did it get back safely?

Find out more in the Thrillist article HERE.

7 thoughts on “Souvenirs That Could Land You In Jail

  1. DaninSTL- We love Kinder and buy it here as well as when traveling! The small packets with multiple pieces make it great for sharing.

    Interesting dirty shoes suggestion. I suppose the government could also make it illegal to have smelly shoes!

    DeltaPoints- Love the story about the sardines!

    aerodawg- Lots of government laws are ridiculous! We brought back 2- 3 packs of Kinder Eggs not realizing it was illegal earlier in the year. The “yolk” that the toy comes in is pretty large.

    Bethany- I totally agree! I think parents should be adult enough to make wise decisions as to who they are safe to be given to.

    AlohaDaveKennedy- LOL- Oh gosh, those crappy Cracker Jacks toys! I couldn’t agree more with your comment about parental supervision…

  2. Indeed, the fate of the free world is in danger with Kinder Surprise Eggs. But then I recall surviving all those toys in CrackerJack packages. Seems parental supervision is the key?

  3. Had no idea about the Kinder Surprise Eggs but to ban them and fine ya for having that? Come on!! They are sold so many places here in Europe. Do they not think people can think for themselves and not to give the egg to a baby? *shakes head*

  4. My understanding is that customs is generally lenient with individuals bringing in things in amounts that constitute personal use. They really don’t expect people to know all the myriad of laws, rules and regulations so generally the penalty stops at confiscation.

    Also the kinder egg restriction is the dumbest thing going. I bought some in Europe a couple years back and the toys are nearly the size of the egg itself.

  5. Oh forgot to add once after the zero liquids ban my mom tried to bring cans of sardines in water on a flight. I said to her at security as they gave my “the look” and I gave my mom “the look” and she said to me – “I thought I would try to sneak them” – deep sigh!

  6. We’ve brought back Kinder stuff but never the eggs. Who would know this on the fly. Weird.
    It’s not illegal but a couple things people should be careful of is Mexican Vanilla. Many people think it’s great stuff and everyone should pick up a bottle from the souvenir stand on the corner while in Mexico. The fact is that most is not the old original Mexican vanilla but instead is synthetic and can be dangerous to your health. Another is bringing back dirty shoes. For example say you go for a hike or walk out in the rural area of Romania or where ever. It’s very possible to bring back all kinds of bad fecal matter, mad cow stuff, etc. etc.

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