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Old Jun 2, 13, 2:25 pm   #1
 
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Traveling with an engagement ring

I am flying to Paris in a week and will be bringing a diamond engagement ring with me to propose to my girlfriend while we're there. I am concerned about the security of the ring while going through airport security (LAX), customs & immigration (CDG), and while around Paris before I pop the question.

Regarding security at LAX:
I plan to place the ring either inside the ring box in a shoe (then stuffed with socks) in our rollaboard carry-on, or in a small plastic bag inside an envelope in my personal item. Another idea I just had is to place the ring in a small plastic bag, wrap the bag with a cleaning cloth for my glasses, and place the cloth+ring in my glasses case. Regardless of what I do, it will be carried on, NOT checked, so that it is with me at all times. Of these options, which do you think is most secure, and which is least likely to catch the TSA's eye? I would really like to keep this a surprise, and a ring catching their attention could theoretically ruin the surprise if they want to inspect it at the checkpoint. TSA theft is also a minor concern as I will be opting out of the body scan. Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

Regarding customs & immigration at CDG:
Since I want to keep this a surprise, I don't want to declare the ring upon entry into France/Schengen area. Am I risking any problems if I don't declare it and it is found during a luggage inspection? Even if they do an inspection, are they likely to look inside a shoe that's stuffed full of socks, or in a sealed envelope or inconspicuous glasses case? On that note, do they x-ray your luggage, hand search, or both?

Around Paris:
I am aware that pick-pockets are a problem around Paris, especially on the Metro and at popular tourist sites. I'd love to hear ideas for how to keep the ring securely on my person while also maintaining secrecy. I plan to pop the question within the first couple days there, so after that it will be securely on her finger. Note that we do have a Pacsafe bag we will be using as a day pack, so I could either keep it in my pocket or stored deep in the bag (perhaps hidden in a glasses case as mentioned earlier in this post). Also note, it is a nice and beautiful ring, but by no means is it flashy nor does it have a particularly large stone. In my opinion, it should not attract undue attention once it's on her hand.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by kdoughboy; Jun 2, 13 at 2:39 pm.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 3:35 pm   #2
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I would place the ring in a tie or scarf holder that has a couple of ties/scarves and a single tie clip/brooch inside a cabin bag with a non-TSA lock on the bag that has just clothes otherwise. I would have the ring inside two ziploc bags so it can be easily located if dropped and include my contact info on it. [According to police, some homeless guy found my relative's very expensive wedding ring that she lost when coming out of a taxi. The homeless guy turned it in to a police precinct office and she was never able to find out who turned it in and reward him for his caring act. She probably would have gotten it back sooner from the homeless fellow if she had some contact info with the ring.]

On board the plane just before descent, taking out the ring and placing it in a zippered pocket of a pant you are wearing on arrival would almost certainly go unnoticed at CDG even were you to walk the red channel.

When I have precious luggage, I take car service from a major car service company and keep the precious items on my person or in my bag in the passenger compartment. For personal precious items, the hotel safe is better than a room safe. Either way, get it insured prior to travel if its loss would be material by your standards. And don't carry it around 24/7 in Paris or anywhere else for that matter. Things get lost more frequently than they get stolen, but transporting it on person around Paris will just increase the risks of both such unfortunate outcomes.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 3:44 pm   #3
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Also - Do not forget to register the ring with CBP prior to departure from the USA. You will need your purchase receipt for that. Given that it's presumably a dutiable item, you do not want to have to spend forever and a day proving that you didn't buy it abroad.

As to travel safety, just keep it in your hand as you go through security and on your person otherwise. At the hotel, keep it in the hotel (not room) safe.

Make sure it's insured and that your policy expressly includes overseas locations.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 3:52 pm   #4
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Opting out of the strip search machine is going to come with a very high probability of the TSA manually inspecting your bags and its contents.

Do not carry the ring in your hand or on your person at the TSA screening checkpoint(s). That suggestion is really counterproductive to say the least and would probably mess you up big time in terms of having the element of surprise.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 4:03 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
I would place the ring in a tie or scarf holder that has a couple of ties/scarves and a single tie clip/brooch inside a cabin bag with a non-TSA lock on the bag that has just clothes otherwise. I would have the ring inside two ziploc bags so it can be easily located if dropped and include my contact info on it.
I am not bringing ties nor scarves, but your overall message seems to be to nest it among something else so as to make it inconspicuous. I think the glasses case idea is probably the closest to this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
On board the plane just before descent, taking out the ring and placing it in a zippered pocket of a pant you are wearing on arrival would almost certainly go unnoticed at CDG even were you to walk the red channel.
I do not have any pants with zippered pockets, but I will take your suggestions to place it on my person while traversing customs & immigration. Worst case scenario, I could hide it in my shoe. Also, what is the red channel?

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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
As to travel safety, just keep it in your hand as you go through security and on your person otherwise. At the hotel, keep it in the hotel (not room) safe.
How do you propose I keep it in my hand while going through security? I will be opting out of the nude-o-scope (as I always do), and during that process they make you stand with your palms open.

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Opting out of the strip search machine is going to come with a very high probability of the TSA manually inspecting your bags and its contents.
What makes you say that? I've opted out literally every time I have been presented with a nude-o-scope (which has been plenty of times) and I've only ever had my bags inspected a couple times, both times for a particular item they couldn't quite make out.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 4:11 pm   #6
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What makes you say that? I've opted out literally every time I have been presented with a nude-o-scope (which has been plenty of times) and I've only ever had my bags inspected a couple times, both times for a particular item they couldn't quite make out.
I'd go for the glasses case.

Depending on the US airport and some other things, the TSA have a history of subjecting strip search machine opt-outs to the extraordinary frisking along with ETDing of bag and/or bag contents. It's not always the case, but it has been often enough.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 4:26 pm   #7
 
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I'd go for the glasses case.

Depending on the US airport and some other things, the TSA have a history of subjecting strip search machine opt-outs to the extraordinary frisking along with ETDing of bag and/or bag contents. It's not always the case, but it has been often enough.
I'm wondering if maybe I should try to make it a little more conspicuous when it goes through the x-ray machine. If it's hidden too well, that may raise TSA's suspicions. If I hide it from her while also making it clear to an x-ray screener that yes, this is a ring, perhaps it won't raise their suspicions. Then, once past the checkpoint, I can move it to a more secure location when she visits the restroom.

I typically fly through LAX and have always had pleasant (well, as pleasant as they can get) experiences with opt-outs. It's always the smaller airports where you start running into issues. That said, those have all been for domestic flights and I will be going through the TBIT this time, so I'm not sure how security there compares. In any case, I'll send her through first and tell her to go get seats at the gate if they choose to pull me aside for additional screening.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 4:48 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdoughboy View Post
I do not have any pants with zippered pockets, but I will take your suggestions to place it on my person while traversing customs & immigration. Worst case scenario, I could hide it in my shoe. Also, what is the red channel?

I think this is a terrible idea. The more carefully it is hidden, the more it looks as if you are smuggling something.

No one here has asked the value of the ring, so I will ask. It matters if we are talking about $5,000 or $25,000 for example.

Personal items that you intend to leave the country with don't have to be declared but there are exceptions which may be based on gold content (I think it's 500 g but not sure).

The problem is that you are not going to leave the country with it. You are giving it as a gift to someone else, who will then presumably leave the country with it. That changes things as it is no longer a personal item, it's a gift.

Finally, call your insurance broker and have him add the ring to your scheduled items so that you are insured without a deductible in the event of a loss.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 5:11 pm   #9
 
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I think this is a terrible idea. The more carefully it is hidden, the more it looks as if you are smuggling something.
Just to clarify, I was only talking about putting it in my shoe as I go through customs & immigration at CDG. I HIGHLY doubt they'd have any interest in my shoes or their contents.

The ring is worth less than $5000. It will be returning to the United States on her finger.

Last edited by kdoughboy; Jun 2, 13 at 5:17 pm.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 5:20 pm   #10
 
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Just to clarify, I was only talking about putting it in my shoe as I go through customs & immigration at CDG.
And that is precisely what I think is a terrible idea.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 5:29 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by kdoughboy View Post
Just to clarify, I was only talking about putting it in my shoe as I go through customs & immigration at CDG. I HIGHLY doubt they'd have any interest in my shoes or their contents.

The ring is worth less than $5000. It will be returning to the United States on her finger.
I would not leave it in a shoe for CDG purposes -- that is too extraordinary. Jacket or pant pockets which you are wearing is just fine.

Is an engagement ring even generally considered a gift? Given how they are dealt with by some courts when the wedding is called off, who knows.

The French are unlikely to care about engagement rings. People go there all the time to get engaged and it is rare for customs there to make a stink about a couple from the US coming in with a little luggage and getting engaged over some vacation/weekend in Paris. Passport control is also unlikely to ask anything of US passport holders.

US CBP is more likely to ask, as they may ask the purpose of your trip on return to the US; and if you say engagement they may ask about rings/shopping.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 5:43 pm   #12
 
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Insure the damn thing before you leave home and then do not be paranoid about it. Just put it some where safe - like in your shaving kit and forget about it.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 5:53 pm   #13
 
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Also - Do not forget to register the ring with CBP prior to departure from the USA. You will need your purchase receipt for that. Given that it's presumably a dutiable item, you do not want to have to spend forever and a day proving that you didn't buy it abroad.

As to travel safety, just keep it in your hand as you go through security and on your person otherwise. At the hotel, keep it in the hotel (not room) safe.

Make sure it's insured and that your policy expressly includes overseas locations.
CBP will not register jewelry that is leaving the country unless it has some type of readily readable serial number which most jewelry does not have. You should have the purchase receipt with you when you return to the United States. That should be sufficient to prove that it was not purchased on your trip. I would also have a picture to the piece as well.

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Old Jun 2, 13, 7:27 pm   #14
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Originally Posted by kdoughboy View Post
I am not bringing ties nor scarves, but your overall message seems to be to nest it among something else so as to make it inconspicuous. I think the glasses case idea is probably the closest to this.


I do not have any pants with zippered pockets, but I will take your suggestions to place it on my person while traversing customs & immigration. Worst case scenario, I could hide it in my shoe. Also, what is the red channel?


How do you propose I keep it in my hand while going through security? I will be opting out of the nude-o-scope (as I always do), and during that process they make you stand with your palms open.


What makes you say that? I've opted out literally every time I have been presented with a nude-o-scope (which has been plenty of times) and I've only ever had my bags inspected a couple times, both times for a particular item they couldn't quite make out.
1. People travel with a heck of alot more valuable jewelry than one ring, thousands of times/day.

2. If you really must opt out, you can certainly hold the ring in your open hand and move it between hands if the Officer wants to inspect each hand. At worst, the ring is sitting on a table in front of you during your inspection.

3. Don't opt out. This seems to be the source of the stress.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 10:31 pm   #15
 
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3. Don't opt out. This seems to be the source of the stress.
Well apparently all the backscatter (x-ray) machines are now gone, and my beef was with the technology, so maybe I will just go through the machine and save myself a potential added headache. There is still the potential for the TSA to see and want to inspect the ring, so I have to figure out how to make it easy to distinguish yet also well hidden.

For now, I'm planning to place the ring in my carry-on (not quite sure on where/how yet), leave it there for the duration of the flight, place it in my pocket prior to deplaning, and keep it there through customs & immigration. Empty ring box will be packed in checked bag or left at home.
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