Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/02/17

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re: [Leica] Film, Cameras, Customs & France
From: "Bryan Caldwell" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 17:45:33 -0800


My travels are usually to Asia, so I can't comment specifically on any
problems you might have in travelling to France. However, a few suggestions.

First, film should alwyas go with you - not in checked baggage, and I would
be reluctant to send it. Take 35mm film out of the boxes and plastic
cannisters and put it in zip lock transparent plastic bags. I've found the
pint size to be handy for about six rolls each. Then put the pint size bags
into transparent one gallon size zip lock bags. Go through security check
points early and have the gallon bags out ahead of time so that you're not
holding up a line. Politely ask for a hand inspection of the film. I've
never been refused in more airports than I care to remember. I've had
security guards open the bags and run their hands through the rolls
themselves, but I've never been refused a hand search when I've followed
this procedure. I've never used lead bags, and I've never had film fogged by
xrays - even ultra high speed stuff.

If you're not taking a huge number of cameras and lenses, you're probably
not going to have much trouble with customs - and, your problems, if any,
are probably more likely upon return to the U.S. If you're really worried
you can visit a U.S. customs office before you go, with your equipment, and
get a carnet, which is a list of the equipment and serial numbers, showing
that you owned and possessed them in the U.S. This probably isn't necessary.
I usually carry a copy of my insurance rider which lists my equipment and
serial numbers or a greatly reduced xerox of some of the original sales
receipts. It's never been a problem and I've never been asked to produce
proof of ownership.

I've also found a Lowe Magnum AW to be about the biggest bag that will meet
airline carry-on requirements and fit through though new sizing holes at
some airports. I cram mine full and usually roll up an old Domke in my
suitcase to use once I arrive where I'm going. I just bought a new
Billingham 206 and my plan is to still carry on the Lowe, but also to carry
the Billingham filled with non-photo items on long trips.

The two photographic items I've avoided travelling with are large format
film and photographic paper. Because they are in larger boxes and are
obviously light sensitive, I've always been afraid that a security guard
might require that I open them. Anybody on the LUG have any experience with


- -----Original Message-----
To: <>
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 1999 10:06 AM
Subject: [Leica] Film, Cameras, Customs & France

>        I shall be traveling to France for a 7-week stay with my family, in
>April. The plan is to ship ahead my 4X5 field camera to an address in
>and to carry on my M6, lenses, and other 35mm equipment and unexposed film.
>        With no experience and a head full of rumors and tall tales
>U.S. and French Customs, airport X-ray machines and carry-on size and
>limitations, I could use some heads-up advice from the LUG.
> I had planned to register my serial-numbered equipment with U.S.
>Customs, and I have ideas about how to avoid airport x-rays, but anything
>comes to mind from the well-traveled and well-prepared LUGers would be much
>appreciated. The best way to ship equipment, how much film is allowed, is
>U.S. serial number registration useful for French customs, and hosts of
>questions come to mind.
> Thanks, in advance, from an inveterate list-lurker.
>-Gary S. Colby