The United States Customs Service is the primary enforcement agency that protects our nations borders against the smuggling of drugs and other prohibited goods. In doing so, part of their job requires checking all travelers coming into the United States, which can be a dubious and time consuming task.

By knowing what to expect when you pass through customs, as well as the rules you must adhere to when re-entering this country, you can help make this a quick and easy process for all -- not to mention avoiding a sticky situation simply because you did not know any better.

This quick guide reviews the basic things you should know about making a declaration, duty free exemptions, duty-free stores, paying duty and prohibited and restricted items. You should certainly read through it before you leave and may even want to print it for future reference.

This is only a guide. For more information, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.