World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America

Money and duty free for United States of America

Currency and Money

Currency information

US Dollar (USD; symbol $) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of $100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1, though the $2 bill is rare and is not in high circulation. Coins are in denominations of $1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.

Credit cards

Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.

Bank-issued debit cards are accepted at many businesses in the US; however, using them to pay for many travel-related expenses, such as car hire and hotel rooms, often incurs a surcharge, deposit, or a hold on your account.


ATMs are widely available across the country.

Travellers cheques

Widely accepted in US Dollar cheques; Pound Sterling traveller's cheques are rarely accepted and few banks will honour them. Change is issued in US Dollars. One or two items of identification (passport, credit card, driving licence) will be required.

Banking hours

Variable, but generally Mon-Fri 0830-1700. In major cities such as New York, newer banks are competing with one another and have extended hours, including weekend service.

Currency restrictions

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts in excess of US$10,000 or equivalent should be declared at customs.

Currency exchange

Hotels do not, as a rule, exchange currency and only a few major banks will exchange foreign currency, so it is advisable to arrive with US Dollars, or exchange foreign currency at the airport upon arrival.

United States of America duty free


The following goods may be imported by visitors over 21 years of age into the USA without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars.
• 1L of alcoholic beverage.
• Goods up to the value of US$800 for returning residents who have been out of the country for at least 48 hours and have made the trip once in every 31 days.
• Goods up to the value of US$100 for non-residents.

For further information, please see

Banned Imports

The United States Customs and Borders Protection has many banned and restricted items.

Banned imports include but are not limited to the following:
• Almost all fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; avoid taking those given to you on the plane or cruise ship too.
• Absinthe
• Certain plants, cuttings and seeds
• Dog and cut fur
• Gold coins, unless they are properly marked by country of issuance
• Gold and gold products originating in or brought from Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and most of Sudan
• Prohibited Pornography
• Trademark and copyrighted articles

Restricted imports that require special permits from a federal agency include but are not limited to the following:
• Biological specimens
• Bushmeat and any products containing meat
• Cultural artifacts and cultural property
• Defense articles or items with military or proliferation applications
• Drug paraphernalia
• Firearms
• Fish & wildlife
• Game and hunting trophies
• Haitian animal hide drums
• Narcotics and drugs with a high potential for abuse, such as Rohypnol.
• Merchandise from embargoed countries such as Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and Sudan
• Textiles and clothing exceeding your personal exemption

The US Customs and Border Protection regularly updates the list of banned and restricted imports. Check out their site ( for the latest information.

Banned Exports

Weapons and drugs.

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