U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a passport or a combination of a birth certificate and photo ID, plus a return or ongoing ticket, to enter the country. Citizens of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries of the Caribbean, the Republic of Ireland, and E.U. countries must also have a current passport.
All travelers coming from the Caribbean, including Americans, are now required to have a passport to enter or reenter the United States. Those returning to Canada are also required to show passports. Cruise ship passengers must also meet the requirement. You’ll certainly need identification at some point, and a passport is the best form of ID for speeding through Customs and Immigration. Driver’s licenses are not acceptable as a sole form of ID.
Generally, you’re permitted to bring in items intended for your personal use, including tobacco, cameras, film, and a limited supply of liquor — usually 40 ounces.
Just before you leave home, check with the Turks and Caicos Customs or Foreign Affairs department for the latest guidelines — including information on items that are not allowed to be brought into your home country — since the rules are subject to change and often contain some surprising oddities.
On arriving in the Turks and Caicos, you may bring in 1 quart of liquor, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 8 ounces of tobacco duty-free. There are no restrictions on cameras, film, sports equipment, or personal items, provided they aren’t for resale. Absolutely no spear guns or Hawaiian slings are allowed, and the importation of firearms without a permit is also prohibited. Illegal imported drugs bring heavy fines and lengthy terms of imprisonment.
You should collect receipts for all purchases made abroad. You must also declare on your Customs form the nature and value of all gifts received during your stay abroad. It’s prudent to carry proof that you purchased expensive cameras or jewelry on the U.S. mainland. If you purchased such an item during an earlier trip abroad, you should carry proof that you have previously paid Customs duty on the item.
Sometimes merchants suggest a false receipt to undervalue your purchase. Beware: You could be involved in a sting operation — the merchant might be an informer to U.S. Customs.
If you use any medication that contains controlled substances or requires injection, carry an original prescription or note from your doctor.
For specifics on what you can bring back, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. (Click on “Travel,” then go to “Travel Smart” and click on “Know Before You Go.”) Or contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667), and request the pamphlet.
U.K. citizens should contact HM Customs & Excise at tel. 0845/010-9000 (tel. 020/8929-0152 from outside the U.K.), or consult its website at www.hmce.gov.uk.
For a clear summary of Canadian rules, write for the booklet I Declare, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
Citizens of Australia should request a helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices called Know Before You Go. For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.
For New Zealand Customs information, contact New Zealand Customs at tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786, or log on to www.customs.govt.nz.