Cancun ticks the list of everything that you need in a paradise. And this is a perfect place for a vacation, especially a beach. But once the beach holiday is over, one would always surmise of bringing something as a souvenir. Now, the question is, can you bring shells out of Cancun? Shells are the most common souvenirs from beach holidays. And yes, you can take shells out of Cancun, but we’d rather advise you not to. It is actually illegal to take them out of Mexico.
You’ve had your fill of margaritas and guacamole. You’ve had a lot of tacos all during the holiday.
And now, it is time to head home.
You have shells with you that you gathered while walking the beaches of Cancun. If this is so, there’s something you need to know.
Know that there are governmental regulations that you need to understand. This should rid you of issues when going home.
You are actually forbidden to bring them out of Mexico. Doing so would result in its corresponding fines. Aside from that, you would also play a big part in destroying ecological environments.
Now, this may not be a big issue when in other countries. But note that there are a lot of reasons why you cannot bring these shells out of the country.
For starters, you have to think of the environmental concerns.
Also, consider micro-bacteria. You don’t usually see them. But you may be bringing them with you back home.
This is why you have to take that extra precaution.
Shells and Cancun
Cancun has a high propensity for movement. This is especially true in the major tourist areas. As such, expect the shells in Cancun to be smaller than in other cities.
There are larger shells around. But these are not in Cancun.
You would easily find the larger shells in less-touristy areas of Mexico.
As you can see, you only have to enjoy the presence of shells. And in other areas, you can easily bring them back home.
In Hawaii, for example, taking small amounts of sand and dead corals is fine. This should be good as long as you bring them home as souvenirs and not for commercial use.
This is why it is of great importance always to be aware of every country’s regulations before your visit.
Because one country should always be different from the other.
The rules on customs state that it is actually allowed to bring shells into the country. However, the concern is on which country you get these shells from.
You see, when you bring these shells home, there is a possibility you bring microorganisms. Some of these microorganisms may not react well to their new environment.
At times, it can be harmless. But it can also pose a risk to everyone around you.
We are not saying shells can kill you or everyone around you. The US does not allow the importation of these shells because of the potential harm. They may not do well in their new location.
If You So Insist…
Now, you know you are actually supposed to leave shells where you found them. You are very well aware that in no way should you bring shells out of Cancun.
But if you insist, there is a way to do this.
By doing so, you avoid any concerns of fees and fines. You do not get in trouble with customs. The best way to bring the shells back to the US is simple.
And that is to declare it with customs.
Now, when you do that, would you be allowed to bring the shells back home?
There are possibilities.
Declaring it to customs is not a foolproof way. You still have to keep in mind that you may be blatantly denied.
Another possibility is for customs to advise you to get rid of the shells. Or the other possibility is that they confiscate the shells.
This option may not put so much of a sliver of hope into you. But this is the safest route to take.
Doing so would allow experts to take a closer look at the shell. They will be able to determine whether the shell you are bringing back is safe or not. This, they do before the shell causes danger to everyone around you.
The worst answer you can get from customs is a No.
Again, you can always sneak it in. But we don’t recommend it.
Because if you do and they catch you, you won’t like it one bit.
And If You Get Caught…
If you decide to sneak the shell in and you get caught, there will be repercussions.
Section 592 of the Customs Law declares an explicit $300 as a penalty. This is for the non-declaration of a non-agricultural product that is actually forbidden.
Aside from you paying the penalty, customs may also confiscate the item.
It is thus important to declare everything that you are bringing back to the country. Whether you purchased it in Cancun or you just picked it up from one of its beaches, you need to declare them.
The US is not trying to take away what’s yours. At the end of the day, these are your souvenirs.
But remember that customs are in the position to keep everyone safe. As such, they need to know what comes into the country. They have to know and understand the risks these items pose to the Americans.
And so, the best recourse is always to declare these items before customs.
How do you clean shells properly?
Soaking the shells in bleach will help you clean them thoroughly. Scrubbing them would also help get rid of the sand and other particles that may stick to the shell. Once done, you would have a clean shell worthy of the custom’s scrutiny.
You know the risks of bringing shells into the country.
Despite you knowing about it, you would want to give it a try.
Besides, customs may be forgiving and allow you to bring the shell back. Or this shell may be harmless, and so you decided to bring it back home.
If you are bringing a shell back from another country, you need to declare it with customs.
Not doing so would result in a penalty of $300 and a lot more. And so, it is best to declare.
But before bringing it back to the US, you have to ensure you have a clean shell with you.
To be honest, the people at customs wouldn’t want to even look at dirty shells. If you don’t clean them well before presenting them to customs, chances are they will say no.
There is also another reason why you need to clean them well.
This is also for you to rid the shell of bacteria and other foreign microorganisms.
We are not saying the microorganisms are dangerous. But we know that they belong somewhere else in Cancun, where you took the shells.
Exposing these microorganisms to some other environment may have unknown reactions. We don’t know how they will react. And that’s something we don’t want to risk.
And so, there is a need to clean them up.
Customs will always decline dirty shells. This is because dirty shells may pose a health risk to the citizens.
To clean your shells, you only need to follow these simple steps.
– In a tub, pour in a solution of 1-part water and 1-part bleach.
– Soak the shells in the solution for about an hour.
– Once done with soaking, remove the shells from the water-bleach solution. Scrub the shells with a toothbrush.
– To clean the shells well, use dish soap when brushing. This should get all the dirt and sand out of the shell. This should also be an effective way to rid the shells of microorganisms that may still stick.
– Rewash the shells.
– Put the shells on top of a towel or some napkins. Let the shells air dry.
– Place them in a clear container. You can also use a clear bag in keeping your shells. Using a clear container or a clear bag will enable customs to see the shells easily.
Again, the US government does not have anything bad against shells.
The thing is, they need to keep everyone safe.
The shells need further evaluation. This is before they are actually allowed entry into the country.
What other items can you NOT bring from Mexico?
There are a lot of items that you cannot bring back from Mexico. Some of these include certain fruits. You are also not allowed to bring in meats and some vegetables. The same is true with Cuban cigars and switchblade knives. Most importantly, you are also not allowed to bring in items from endangered species.
Those who have traveled to Cancun usually bring with them a horde of photos. Not only that, but they also bring with them memories and a new look at life. Perhaps a fresh start?
Aside from a well-rested mind, travelers tend to bring other mementos.
Unfortunately, some of them may be restricted.
One such example is tequila. Can you bring them? Yes, you can. But you have to declare the tequila with customs; otherwise, there will be a price to pay.
Here, we talk more about bringing back things from Mexico.
Well, yes, you can bring liquor back home.
But as soon as you arrive, make sure to declare it with customs. Otherwise, you need to pay the penalty if you sneak it in and you get caught.
In fact, when going back home, you can only bring with you one liter every 30 days. This means that you cannot bring back more than one liter per month if you frequently visit.
Another thing to remember is that you have to be at least 21 years old.
We know the age requirement to drink in Mexico is 18. But you are bringing it back home to the US. This means that we follow regulations back home.
So, it’s either you are 21, or you don’t bring alcohol at all.
The Prohibited Items
First of all, we talk about the most prominent item of them all.
Drugs are, of course, prohibited. We think it does not take a genius to figure that out.
Once caught, this could mean huge amounts to be paid for fines and penalties. Also, there is a high possibility of federal charges filed against you. Plus, you will be spending some time in prison.
But aside from drugs, there are other items you cannot bring back to the US from Mexico. These items would include some fruits. Examples of these fruits can be apples and oranges.
Also, if you brought with you some fruits from the US to Mexico, you can never bring them back home. Which means you have to consume them when you are in Mexico.
You are also prohibited from bringing with you slabs of meat and some vegetables from Mexico. Cuban cigars are also not allowed. The same is true with switchblade knives.
Finally, you have to know that you are also forbidden to bring items made from endangered species. Some of these would be products from sea turtles. Horn products, examples of which are those from rhinos, are also not allowed.
Ivory from marine mammals is not allowed. The same is true with wild bird products and byproducts of crocodiles.
Now, we don’t want you to break the law.
We can’t let you sneak in a shell or any of these items back home.
Because aside from the usual penalty, they may also file charges. Some items, when sneaked in, may even constitute a criminal offense.
This only means that sneaking them in is a bad idea.
But, if you badly want to bring them home, there are a couple of ways.
First, we already know we need to declare the items. That’s the safest way to do it.
But another thing that you can do is to mail the items to yourself. The fact is, you can ship as much as $200 worth of items from Mexico for your personal use. You can send this to yourself.
Or you can also mail items of up to $100 to another person. This is allowed provided that the item is an unsolicited gift.