Travel Europe

Passports & US Customs

 "In Order to Travel to and From Europe"

Passports & US Customs 



In order to travel to and within Europe, all U.S. citizens, including infants, require a valid U.S. passport. 

The best time to apply for passports is between September and December when agencies are less busy; apply several months prior to your departure.

If you are applying for the first time or you need your passport urgently, you will have to make an appointment to appear in person at a U.S. Passport Agency office, a courthouse or a post office authorized to process passports.


To make an appointment, call the State Department's automated National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778.   For urgent renewals, you may be required to bring proof of your trip such as an airline confirmation number and expect to pay an increased expedite fee.


U.S. Dept of State Passports: StateDeptPassportInformation



Travel visas  are not required for holders of U.S. passports on short-term visits (less than 90 days) by any member countries of the European Travel Commission with the exception of Turkey.

For Turkey, a visa is available upon entry or in advance through the Consular Office of the Turkish Embassy in the U.S.

List of European Travel Commission Countries that do not require travel visas for short term visits (90 days or less)

Austria, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,

 Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak, Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.

Further information is available on the individual countries’ tourism website or you can check with the country’s embassy in the U.S. before leaving.

Note: US Embassies and Consulates are listed in the resource guide.


Customs Regulations

Bringing back a luggage-full of goodies is one of the great pleasures of visiting Europe, but it pays to be aware of any customs requirements upon your return.

The U.S. Customs regulations Department has strict rules and regulations and these vary from country to country.  Follow these guidelines to make sure you can actually bring home the items you purchase.

Prior to your departure, you may want to register certain items you take abroad with you such as laptops, cameras or watches, so that when returning home you will not be subject to a duty on them. Registration can be done with Customs at the international airport from which you are departing.  This is not essential but can give you “peace of mind.”

 U.S. Customs offers this advice: “If you’re bringing it back with you, and you didn’t have it when you left, and its total value is more than your exemption, it is subject to duty.”

  On your return flight back to the USA, you will be asked to fill out form I-94 detailing the value of your purchases. Visitors who have been abroad at least 48 hours and have not made a claim for exemption in the past 30 days can return home with up to $800 per person in purchases without paying any duty.

A flat rate of 10 percent will be charged on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. After that, the levies vary according to the article.

If you do owe duty, it is payable upon your arrival in the U.S. in cash (U.S. currency only) or by personal check in the exact amount, drawn on a U.S. bank, made payable to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Some limits on certain items are very specific.

Food items can be the trickiest items to bring home unless they include baked goods, sweets or chocolates, which are simple to import. Avoid bringing home meats, fruits or vegetables, and, while dairy items such as milk, yogurt and hard cheese are allowed, soft cheeses such as Brie and ricotta are not.

It is wise to study the I-94 customs form prior to leaving for your trip.  The form will be handed out to passengers on the flight returning to the USA and you will have to complete it before landing.   You will present the I-94 to US custom agents along with your passport. 

More info:  USCustomsInformation


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