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I was leaving Botswana to go back to Europe, and transited in Windhoek. In the departures hall, I was approached by a customs officer who requested that we go through my luggage together. It turned out that the reason for the alarm was a souvenir consisting of a polished and engraved cow's horn. On the scanners, it raised suspicions for being possibly a rhinoceros horn (Africa's rhino population is decimated because of horn-related poaching, so that would be very serious).

After they heard the cow's horn explanation (they were somewhat surprised, apparently this souvenir is not as common in Namibia as it is in Botswana), I was escorted to a police room within the airport, where the officer asked me to note my name, passport number and a description of the found item on a blank sheet of paper - there was no official form - and I was released to go on with my flight.

I have never been questioned by customs before, so I wonder what are the consequences, if any.

  • Am I obliged to mention this accident somewhere in the future, for example on visa applications for Namibia or for other countries? If yes, do I have to do it preemptively, or only when asked explicitly?
  • should I assume that I am now on a list of people who have to be more thoroughly checked by security, and plan for delays like manual checks when I fly in the future?
  • is there something else that can happen?
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    Being stopped by customs doesn’t count as an arrest. – user 56513 Nov 18 '18 at 12:08
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    99.999%, NO. Customs, Agriculture etc. verify the admissibility of all sorts of items. Carrying otherwise legal items is, well, perfectly legal. The cow's horn might has well been a t-shirt. 99.99%, they took your information because they have to document the interaction for procedural/bureaucratic reasons. I actually have one of those souvenir...from Africa. :) – Johns-305 Nov 18 '18 at 12:33
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The answers to your questions are: no, no and no.

Merely being questioned by customs is absolutely nothing to be worried about. Chances for it to happen is greater in some parts of the world than in other, but any traveller with more than just a few international trips will at some point likely be questioned by customs.

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