I got back from Boston and Rhinebeck today (which was a blast by the way).

I’m usually good about new stuff and reciepts and all that, but I got caught with undeclared stuff after a thorough search. I had to deal with a jerk of a customs officer and now I’m on a blacklist where I’ll be searched coming into the country for the next 7 years (or maybe more).

Don’t do what I did.

I’m gonna go have a drink.

27 Responses to “a PSA”

  1. Robyn

    Oh no Laura! That’s not good. You went through customs at the airport I guess? We drove, and showed everything at the border. Customs agents can be real mean, I hate going through customs. You’d think they’d want us to shop in the USA because of the recession!

    Hopefully you won’t have too many problems on future visits to the USA.

    It was really good to see you again at Rhinebeck! I am hoping to make it down again to Frolic in the Spring.

    Reply
  2. Lori

    what a nightmare!! my husband and i were returning to the U.S. from a weekend in toronto, driving home to manhattan, and had to go through the border crossing at buffalo. so we’re U.S. citizens … and the crossing guard completely terrorized us for half an hour. just because he could.

    i think “jerk” must be a prerequisite to be a customs guard. i’m really sorry that happened to you.

    Reply
  3. Vicki

    That’s terrible! I used to cross the border at Buffalo quite frequently when I was living in the area, but have had problem with pompous border crossing security at other places too. So sorry to hear your trip ended like that!

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  4. Carolyn

    Yeah, that sucks. I warned the knitters I was crossing with from Rhinebeck…we were prepared and lucky for us we got that customs officer who didn’t even lean forward, nor check our citizen ship or asked how much we were declaring…all I said was “a whole lot of yarn”…”go ahead” was all he said. I will say I have experienced the luggage and package check in the past…

    Reply
  5. Tommy

    Heh, one time I was coming back from camping with my cousins in the Thousand Islands and we had gotten a little wild (think full on tribal dances around a bonfire and war paint). There was some serious drinking going on and at some point we drunkely decided to make a ginormous voodoo doll dude which we named Sugar Man and then we couldnt bear to leave him behind… needless to say we got stopped at the border and some very pointed questions were asked. There were 8 19-24 year olds crammed in a van and none of us had bathed in a week or two. I could see the customs guy thinking “I know these kids are on something. I dont know what but theyre on something”.

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  6. Lety

    I feel your pain. I’m just avoiding the Canadian border for another three years until my seven are up. I was enormously pregnant and was escorted to the toilet many times over the five hours I was there. Luckily the agent felt I was not likely smuggling cocaine filled condoms, and she let me shut the door to pee. I didn’t even have any contraband!

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  7. Manon

    My mother got caught several years ago, coming back from a trip to Paris, where she had spent a lot of money and not declared a quarter of what she had bought. She got stopped and her luggage was searched every single time she travelled after that, as well as whoever was travelling with her. If you buy clothes, remove the labels, and if you have receipts you absolutely need to keep, then mail them to yourself, don’t carry them with you.
    It’s a pain being on their blacklist, so be very careful for the next few years. Better off declaring your purchases and paying the taxes.

    Reply
  8. Rosie

    I’m so sorry. Do they actually tell you you’re on “the list” for 7 years?! Wow.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a native New Yorker living in Detroit, MI and I have never been to Canada or Mexico. So I’ve never dealt with our neighbor border crossings.

    Reply
  9. TracyKM

    I think I’d rather deal with 7 years of searches, then pay the fines associated with undeclared items. I’d love to hear more of your story–why did they target you? Do they purposively pick the non-stereotype travellers?

    Reply
  10. Elizabeth

    I feel your pain, but as a former Canadian immigration lawyer who has lived in both Ottawa and Washington,DC, I must regretfully tell you that this is an example of a case where the average person fails to weigh the risks and costs carefully. As tempting as it is to fail to declare purchases, the legal consequences can be scarily harsh. Same goes for drinking and driving, by the way. On the bright side, you weren’t actually charged with anything, so you won’t be at risk of being denied entry to the U.S. in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing what you brought back.

    Reply
  11. Marie

    I am paranoid about being caught – I always declare everything – how good of you to share your cautionary tale – Elizabeth’s comment contains most helpful insights as well!

    Reply
  12. Seanna Lea

    I get searched almost every time I travel. I think they pick me, because I have a largish carryon bag. The last time I had been at the airport for a few hours knitting and then they searched me. It’s like they couldn’t believe I would have my entire trips worth of clothes and sundries in the one bag. (My one Toronto trip was also marred by customs, who seemed unwilling to believe I was a US citizen who was carrying some yarn as her only declared items.)

    Reply
  13. duni

    my friend is also on the blacklist, although he won’t tell us what he did. i always wanted to know what it would take to get on the list. now i know- yarn smuggling. ;) enjoy that drink.

    Reply
  14. Meredith

    It will be harsh getting searched for the next 7 years, but it’s not as if you were intending to be dis-honest in the first place.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t follow Manon’s advice, that’s called smuggling and will get you more than 7 years of being searched by customs.

    Reply

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