Student Stories

Can I Take Photocopied Books to USA?

As per USA customs laws, can I carry photocopy of USA published books from India to USA, while going there in F1 visa for PHD?

Is it legal or will the CBP seize the xeroxed/photocopied books due to anti-piracy laws and deport me?.

Note that I want to take the books for my personal use during my PhD course at US university.Even if it is not allowed, do the customs agent enforce it strictly?

Will they go through inside of each book in my suitcase to find out whether the book is a xeroxed one, or original one?

Is there anybody whose photocopied books have been seized. I want to go with a single copy of each photocopied book (not multiple copy of single books).

Since the books are going to be used for educational purposes, will the CBP be lax/sympathetic? Let me know, as I am worried, my stock of xeroxed books will be seized at airport in USA causing havoc to my study(PhD) in USA.

Note that it is financially not possible for me to buy original dollar priced books in usa, so I want to carry some photocopied books for use in my study there.

The rest I will have to borrow from library of the University.

All the books in question are of my area of study.I have heard CBP is more interested in seizing contraband goods like narcotics, and pirated CDs, and donot pay attention to books whether original or photocopied.

Persons who have already gone to USA with such books may kindly share their experience, as I have to plan accordingly.

Photocopied Books to  USA

Remember cost of education includes books that you have to buy.

When I came to USA, I took a lot of books with me. Almost 12 Kgs of Books.

I had asked my friend for list of the books, he gave me a huge list. I got all the books.

I ended up using just 2 books.

Rest of the books, I purchased them from

Used books are cheap and you get to read great reviews in Amazon.

Most of the courses I took had open books exams.

You are allowed to take the book with you for the exam.

Professors know about students from India.

So, if you take photocopied books, you will not allowed to use the  book.

Universities offer a lot of courses and books you have to use for specific course will not be the same.

Professor decides on the book for that specific course for that semester.

Same professor, same course for next semester could have different book or set of books.

No Books

My advise, don’t take any books while you come to USA. It saves a lot of  weight in your allowed 50 lbs per suitcase.

Take couple of books, only if you know for certain that book will be used.

Buy Indian edition, not photocopies.

I have sold pretty much all the books I purchased via Amazon.

I used to buy only used text books.

I have sold most of my text-book back in Amazon. I sold some books for few $ more than what I paid for that book.

There are several places where books can be rented for a semester or certain period of time.

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  1. Hi All,

    I wanted to know whether I’ll have to pay any customs duty for carrying original books to USA. If so how much may be the amount depending on the value of the books (some of the books are foreign edition)? I’ve some related manuals from different companies, that will be useful for my study. Should I carry them or arrange for courier shipment?

      1. Thanks HSB.
        The total value of these books (hard bound foreign edition..imported by one of my relatives in same profession around 9-10 years back) comes around Rs. 20000/-. And what about the company manuals, because they are highly useful and confidential and they will be used solely for my study purpose. So can I ship them (books+ manuals) through courier, to get rid of any customs clearance?
        Moreover, is there any stipulation over carrying books in checked or carry bags?

  2. In short, yes you can carry. But of course it is not legal. Customs will not end of in checking books unless they feel suspicious for some other reasons. However to what extent your photocopy will be useful is a big question. I wouldn’t suggest carrying books, instead get them here (new or used).

  3. Hi… Its better u dont get any books here.. each college has a huge Scanning machine and u can scan the required books for free and refer it using your laptop or I-pad. U have to request your sir for the book.
    I can suggest that please get 1 or 2 books(basic ones) which u feel will help you to brush up for the studies u come here to do. Buying books online is good but its becomes costly when u start conversion(initially when u come) and u feel that these books are costly as compared to India.

    So get 1-2 books which are really required and the rest in India.

  4. What about e-books? Am I allowed to carry soft copies of the books? I have read the post about carrying movies and music. I have a huge collection of e-books downloaded from file sharing sites. Can I take those with me?

  5. I disagree with your suggestion in this regard. If one is aware of the best book that he needs, he should carry it. I did save few bucks with the same. .

  6. as per my knowledge some of my friends who went u.s.a,they told that carrying the photocpy books of usa published is illegal bcz everything in us will be follow strict rules.if those books are doesnt contains any restricions for photo copying we can carry those books.but there will be a lot of wasting time in customs if they found those books wth your luggage.

  7. Yeah i have same query about carrying data in Hard disk…can we carry downloaded movies and music (which is obviously pirated) in HD to US ??

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