Here is a brief refresher for veteran cruisers, and potentially new information for those new to cruising. Having this knowledge with regards to U.S. Customs declarations (when cruising round-trip from the U.S.) can only help to enhance your Cruise Customer Experience, and eliminate unwanted surprises. If you do cruise out of the U.S. and return to the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), you’ll need to clear Customs at the end of your cruise.
Cruise lines usually distribute Customs forms on the second to last day of your trip. You need to fill out a form identifying yourself (one form per family/household), declaring how much you spent abroad on items that you are bringing into the U.S. Play it safe and keep receipts for items you are bringing back.
The process of clearing Customs at the port is usually easy and rather quick; you hand off your form and walk through! However, there are restrictions regarding what you can bring in.
The standard duty-free allowance is $800 per person (it raises to $1,600 for goods purchased in the U.S. Virgin Islands). If you spend greater amounts, you’ll need to declare it and pay the duty. Alcohol is limited to 1 liter per adult. Cigarettes are limited to 1 carton per adult while cigars are limited to 100 total (no Cubans, or you will face stiff fines if caught!). Fresh fruit and vegetables (including those from the ship), plants and most meats and meat products are not permitted whatsoever.
For specific instructions, visit the U.S. Customs website.