Financial And Shopping Tips When Traveling Overseas

Currency

Local banks usually offer better rates of​ exchange than hotels,​ restaurants,​ or​ stores. Rates are often posted in​ windows. Above all,​ avoid private currency transactions. in​ some countries,​ you​ risk more than being swindled or​ stuck with counterfeit currency _ you​ risk arrest. Avoid the​ black market --- learn and obey the​ local currency laws,​ wherever you​ go.

Shopping

Mail Small Items

When you​ purchase small items,​ it​ is​ a​ good idea to​ mail them personally to​ your home or​ to​ carry them in​ your luggage. This will help prevent misdirected packages,​ no receipt of​ merchandise,​ or​ receipt of​ wrong merchandise. When you​ mail purchases,​ be sure to​ ask about insurance.

American embassies and consulates abroad cannot serve as​ post offices. They cannot accept,​ hold,​ or​ forward mail for U.S. citizens abroad.

Items mailed home are not eligible for your $400 personal exemption. if​ the​ item that you​ are mailing home is​ less than $200,​ duty will be waived. Be sure to​ write on​ the​ outside of​ the​ package that it​ contains goods for personal use.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Some European and Asian countries levy a​ value added tax (VAT) on​ the​ items that you​ buy. in​ some places,​ if​ you​ ship your purchases home,​ the​ VAT can be waived. Other places may require you​ to​ pay the​ VAT,​ but have a​ system to​ refund all of​ it​ or​ part of​ it​ to​ you​ by mail. you​ can ask the​ store clerk for an​ application to​ apply for the​ refund. the​ VAT refund is​ only for items that you​ can ship or​ carry with you. it​ does not apply to​ food,​ hotel bills,​ or​ other services. Because the​ rules for VAT refunds vary from country to​ country,​ you​ should check with the​ country's tourist office to​ learn the​ local requirements.

Beware When Making the​ Following Purchases:

Wildlife Souvenirs

Be careful when you​ buy articles made from animals and plants or​ when you​ purchase live,​ wild animals to​ bring back as​ pets. Some items,​ such as​ those made from elephant ivory,​ sea turtles,​ crocodile leather,​ or​ fur from endangered cats,​ and many species of​ live animals cannot be brought legally into the​ United States. Your wildlife souvenirs could be confiscated by government inspectors,​ and you​ could face other penalties for attempting to​ bring them into the​ United States. Do not buy wildlife or​ wildlife products unless you​ are certain that they are legal for import into the​ United States.

Glazed Ceramics

Beware of​ purchasing glazed ceramic ware abroad. it​ is​ possible to​ suffer lead poisoning,​ if​ you​ consume food or​ beverages that are stored or​ served in​ improperly glazed ceramics.

Unless the​ ceramics are made by a​ firm with an​ international reputation,​ there is​ no immediate way to​ be certain that a​ particular item is​ safe. the​ U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that ceramic tableware purchased abroad be tested for lead release by a​ commercial laboratory on​ your return or​ be used for decorative purposes only.

Antiques

Certain countries consider antiques to​ be national treasures and the​ "inalienable property of​ the​ nation." in​ some countries,​ customs authorities seize illegally purchased antiques without compensation,​ and they may also levy fines on​ the​ purchaser. Americans have been arrested and prosecuted for purchasing antiques without a​ permit. Americans have even been arrested for purchasing reproductions of​ antiques from street vendors because a​ local authority believed the​ purchase was a​ national treasure.

Protect yourself. in​ countries where antiques are important,​ document your purchases as​ reproductions,​ if​ that is​ the​ case,​ or,​ if​ they are authentic,​ secure the​ necessary export permit. the​ documentation or​ export permit may be available through the​ country's national museum. a​ reputable dealer may provide the​ export permit or​ information on​ how to​ secure one. if​ you​ have questions about purchasing antiques,​ the​ country's tourist office can guide you. if​ you​ still have doubts,​ consult the​ Consular Section of​ the​ nearest U.S. embassy or​ consulate. in​ places where Americans have had problems because of​ purchasing antiques,​ the​ Consular Section is​ usually well aware of​ such situations.

Consular officers can inform you​ about the​ local laws and the​ correct procedures to​ follow.

Customs

It is​ important that you​ keep all receipts for items you​ buy overseas. They will be helpful in​ making your U.S. Customs declaration when you​ return.
Financial And Shopping Tips When Traveling Overseas Financial And Shopping Tips When Traveling Overseas Reviewed by Henda Yesti on September 18, 2018 Rating: 5

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