Office of Law Enforcement
Protecting Wildlife and Plant Resources
Tips for Travelers - Species List

Sea turtles: All species are endangered and international trade in sea turtle products is prohibited. Avoid jewelry and curios made from tortoiseshell. Don’t buy sea turtle meat, soup, eggs, facial creams, shells, leathers, or boots, handbags, and other goods made from sea turtle skin. Return to Wildlife Items List

Ivory: The United States generally prohibits the importation of elephant ivory. Don’t bring home raw ivory or ivory jewelry, carvings, or figurines made from the tusks of either African or Asian elephants. Avoid raw or carved ivory from the teeth or tusks of whales, walruses, narwhals, and seals. Return to Wildlife Items List

Furs: Most of the world’s wild cats, including tigers and such spotted species as jaguar, leopard, ocelot, margay, and leopard cat, are protected. You cannot import skins or items made from, or trimmed with, the fur of these animals. Furs from seals, polar bears, and sea otters are also prohibited. Return to Wildlife Items List

Primates: Don’t buy a live monkey or ape overseas for a pet. Most primate species are protected, so you should also avoid curios, furs, or meats from these animals. Return to Wildlife Items List

Wildlife Wools: Avoid shahtoosh, a superfine fabric made from Tibetan antelope hair. You may import clothing made from vicuna (a South American mammal similar to a llama) with a permit from the country where you bought the item. The label must carry the Vicuna Convention logo and show where the wool came from. Return to Wildlife Items List

Birds: In most cases, you cannot buy a wild bird (such as a parrot, macaw, cockatoo, or finch) in another country and bring it home with you. Check permit requirements before traveling internationally with a pet bird you already own. Return to Wildlife Items List

Feathers and Bird Parts: The United States prohibits the importation of the feathers and parts of most wild birds without a permit. This ban also includes mounted birds and bird nests. Return to Wildlife Items List

Reptiles and Reptilian Leathers: Some reptiles have become popular pets, while others supply leather for shoes, wallets, handbags, and watchbands. Many manufacturers work with skins from sustainably harvested reptiles. But some snake, turtle, tortoise, crocodilian, and lizard species are protected and may be subject to trade restrictions. Check U.S. and country laws before buying reptiles or reptile products overseas or taking these items with you when you travel outside the United States. Return to Wildlife Items List

Fish & Shellfish: Do not buy Asian arowanas for your aquarium. You can usually bring home sport-caught or stuffed and mounted fish. Importing smoked salmon or salmon eggs is not a problem, but you’ll need a permit for sturgeon meat. Check country laws as well as possible U.S. import restrictions before leaving with queen conch or giant clam meat. Return to Wildlife Items List

Caviar: The world's sturgeon species are at risk and global controls regulate caviar trade. In September 2007, members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lowered the amount of caviar that individuals may import or export without a permit as personal effects to 125 grams. Return to Wildlife Items List

Coral and Shells: Many nations limit the collection, sale, and export of live coral and coral products. Consult local authorities before buying coral souvenirs, jewelry, or aquarium decorations. Take similar precautions if queen conch, giant clam, or other shells catch your eye. You should check country laws before beachcombing or exporting the treasures you find between tides. Import restrictions may also apply (for example, queen conch shells from a number of Caribbean countries cannot be imported into the United States). Return to Wildlife Items List

Traditional Asian Medicines: Check labels carefully. Don’t bring home products that list tiger, rhinoceros, leopard, saiga antelope, or musk deer as ingredients. You may import small quantities of American ginseng that you have bought overseas for your personal use, but you may need a permit to take whole or sliced roots from the United States to another country. Return to Wildlife Items List

Injurious Wildlife: The United States bans certain animals as injurious (including live snakehead fish, walking catfish, mitten crabs, brown tree snakes, and brush-tail possums) because they crowd out native species or cause environmental damage. Other animals sold as pets, such as all African rodents and hedgehogs, cannot be imported because they carry diseases that can be transmitted to people and animals. Return to Wildlife Items List

Plants: Certain plants – particularly orchids, cacti, and cycads – may require permits. You should also check with U.S. agriculture officials before importing any plant. Some species are banned as invasive; all imports must be pest-, soil-, and disease-free. Return to Wildlife Items List

 


Last updated: February 14, 2013