Shipping Home Shell...
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Shipping Home Shells

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I have been told that when I leave the island I cannot take any shells or sea glass back or customs will take it from me. Someone said that I could mail them home and fill out a customs sheet stating that I have shells and sea glass. My question is, has anyone ever done this and how much will it cost me to do it? I probably have 20 pounds of small shells that I plan on making jewelry with.
Thanks for any help on this matter.

Topic starter Posted : August 5, 2006 3:22 pm
Member Moderator

Hello Charlotte,

If you bought the seashells in a store then keep the receipt with them/you so if at the airport you are asked you can show the receipt.

If you took them from beaches, then the big issue is that it is illegal to remove shells from beaches in the USVI (and that is why customs takes them). No problem with the seaglass that I am aware of.

Imagine if all our visitors and residents removed 20 pounds of seashells from our beaches.

I've not heard of customs through the post office looking over the law, any more or less than customs at the airport.


Posted : August 5, 2006 4:32 pm
Trusted Member

Go Islander!

One of the first things we learned when vacationing here was that ALL beaches, not just those in officially designated parks, were protected land, and that nothing living or dead, found washed up on the sand or out in the water was allowed to be removed. Having grown up collecting shells from every beach I ever visited, it seemed a bit harsh to me, but I had to admit that the argument Islander put forth about everyone taking shells away did make a point.

I've since gotten very protective of *my* beaches, and have ended up in more than one boisterous fight with a tourist, usually some 20-30 something overly tanned, overly self-important male, after trying politely to inform him/her about the laws when he had picked up a living conch while snorkeling and brought it ashore to be poked and prodded by his drinking buddies as it dies and then stripped from its shell.

Hee hee...Got to admit that I have a bit of surprise advantage in this situation as these types never expect that a pudgy tattooed woman in a wheelchair is going to roll up, cut off their path (and maybe "accidentally" hit the more obnoxious ones in the ankles with my footplate), and insist they return their "souvenir" to the water immediately while explaining the laws/confiscation programs and waiting for any backup help I can get (from life guard to hotel staff to crowd of people willing to stand up for the law.)

Fortunately, most folks have been very gracious, understanding, and cooperative once they are politely informed about the restrictions.


Posted : August 5, 2006 8:15 pm
Advanced Member

These shells are broken up with holes in them. They are on the beaches here. I have been walking the beach for over 3 months and collecting shells that have holes in them to make jewelry. If they stayed on the beach, then wouldn't the waves keep taking them in and out for ever, or until they disenergrate? So what is the big deal to ship them back to the states. I certainly would never take a live shell back or would I ever destroy coral.
It's not like tourist would take away 20 pounds of shells on a would take them 24 hours a day for the 7-10 days that they would be here to collect all the shells that I have, in a one hour day on the beach for the past 3 months. Just needing a little help here...sorry for causing a stink!

Topic starter Posted : August 7, 2006 2:13 am
STT Resident
Trusted Member

Charlotte - you're right! Just put them in a box and mail them back home!

We all get rather sensitive about BAD tourists who abuse both the wildlife and ocean creatures here (including the comparatively little coral left here compared to 20-30 years ago) and have lots of stories to relate about both global warming and really stupid idiot tourists... Cheers!

Posted : August 7, 2006 2:32 am
Linda J


That's partially how the beaches are formed. Shells roll around until they are nothing but sand!

If these shells are discovered, they may be confiscated. Maybe not.

But the rule of thumb on our beaches, as it is in many other places, is "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."


Posted : August 7, 2006 9:30 am
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