The Stuff That’s Illegal to Bring Into Texas

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Relocating to Texas, like relocating anywhere, comes with the responsibility of knowing the laws of the land. Every state differs, and some states are stricter than others. But when it comes to what you can and cannot transport across state lines – and what you can or can’t possess once you’re there – we are sure there is no state quite like Texas.

Here are all the things that are illegal to bring into Texas, broken down by type. Welcome to the wild, mild west.

Fruits and Vegetables

While Texas may have a reputation for oil wells and football teams, the state also boasts a humongous $100 billion agriculture industry. It is no surprise then that they have more than a few rules regarding what fruits and vegetables can’t be brought over state lines.

The good news is the Texas Department of Agriculture spells out all the rules right here in this document. The bad news is this document is 21 pages long and uses a lot of big words. If you’re the type to snack on exotic fruit with hard-to-pronounce names, you may want to read carefully over the TDA’s rules. For the rest of us, here are the basics:

Of particular interest is the citrus fruit family. As the Southwest Farm Press states, “With very few exceptions, no citrus plants, or even pieces of citrus plants are allowed into the state from anywhere.” The National Plant Board gets a bit more technical, explaining (on page seven) that, “any living or non-living rootstock, leaf, root, stem, limb, twig, fruit, seed, seedling or other part of any plant in the botanical family Rutaceae, subfamily Aurantioideae.” As citrus is a huge part of the Texas economy, even one bad plant could potentially ruin entire crops.

In addition to citrus fruits, Texas has plenty of prohibitions in place. If you’re coming from Florida or Puerto Rico, these things are some of the major items prohibited:

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries

There are more than 50 kinds of fruits, vegetables, berries and spices that Texas prohibits coming from down south, due to Caribbean Fruit Fly infestation.

If you’re coming from anywhere in the US (except California, Arizona and parts of New Mexico), Texas also prohibits:

  • Hickory trees
  • Pecan trees
  • Walnut trees

As well as “…(any) parts thereof, except extracted nut meats”, thanks to the never-popular pecan weevil.

Finally, these vegetable plants are not restricted but heavily regulated coming from anywhere, due to a whole host of diseases and pests:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Collards
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Eggplants

It’s all right here in this exhaustive “Summary of Plant Protection Regulations from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Give it a read if you have the time and the will. Or just play it simple and leave every last lemon, walnut and berry behind.

Pets

We have some good news for all you Texas-bound pet owners. The Lone Star State merely requires that all dogs and cats be certified as rabies-vaccinated.

The bad news is that something as simple (and responsible) as keeping Rover on a legal leash requires a watch, a map, a thermometer, a tape measure and a weather forecast. According to Texas statute “§ 821.077. Unlawful Restraint of Dog” :

  • (a) An owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog’s movement:
  • (1) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
  • (2) within 500 feet of the premises of a school; or
  • (3) in the case of extreme weather conditions, including conditions in which:
  • (A) the actual or effective outdoor temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • (B) a heat advisory has been issued by a local or state authority or jurisdiction; or
  • (C) a hurricane, tropical storm, or tornado warning has been issued for the jurisdiction by the National Weather Service.
  • (b) In this section, a restraint unreasonably limits a dog’s movement if the restraint:
  • (1) uses a collar that is pinch-type, prong-type, or choke-type or that is not properly fitted to the dog;
  • (2) is a length shorter than the greater of:
  • (A) five times the length of the dog, as measured from the tip of the dog’s nose to the base of the dog’s tail; or
  • (B) 10 feet;
  • (3) is in an unsafe condition; or
  • (4) causes injury to the dog.

Considering all this, it might just be easier to get a tiger.

We’re not kidding. Reading the Texas laws regarding owning exotic animals – including lions, tigers, bears and gorillas (seriously) – it seems only as difficult to register a “dangerous wild animal” as it does a pickup truck.

(While we’re at it, we’ll mention that it is legal in Texas to own flamethrowers, venomous snakes and, for the truly under-stimulated, military-grade tanks.)

But back to the world most of us inhabit. If you are relocating to Texas, you should know that certain species of fish and other aquatic life are prohibited. Despite their lengthy explanation on the environmental and economical destruction wreaked by the lionfish, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department doesn’t list this non-native critter among their outlawed types of marine life. Here are just a few of the fish that are prohibited:

  • Tilapia
  • Piranhas
  • Freshwater Stingrays
  • Freshwater Eels
  • Temperate Basses
  • Oysters

All resources and information considered, it seems reasonable to believe you’re okay bringing your parakeet with you to your new home in Texas. But we strongly recommend checking with your local authorities as to what laws apply to your pets. As an example, in Waco, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies; all pets must be spayed/neutered and microchipped; dog houses must have at least three walls in addition to a roof and a floor that is not the ground; and no, you cannot give your pet its rabies shot yourself.

Alcohol

The good news here is that Texas puts no limits or taxes on any alcoholic beverages you are transporting into the state, as long as you are in the process of relocating to Texas and the alcohol in your possession is intended for personal consumption only.

The bad news is that the Texas heat will skunk your swill faster than you can say “Lone Star Lager”. So you better hope that your’s isn’t a long distance move in the heat.

Keep in mind, however, that once you are actually settled in the Lone Star State, you’ll be subjected to fines and/or jail time if you fail to declare that case of tequila on your way home from Mexico, or any other alcohol you bought out of state and are transporting back into Texas.

As for figuring out the laws in your particular municipality for purchasing beer, wine or liquor, good luck.

Plants

Texas has no apparent problems with houseplants that are grown indoors in a commercially-prepared potting mix (rather than in soil) and are free of pests and diseases. These may enter Texas without certification.

However, according to the same “Texas Dept. of Agriculture Summary of Plant Protection Regulations” we saw earlier, “houseplants grown or kept outdoors require a phytosanitary certificate from the department of agriculture of the origin state indicating freedom from pests and diseases.”

We’ll be blatantly honest here. There seems no guarantee that your word will be good enough if someone wearing a TDA uniform asks if you’ve ever put your rubber tree plant out on the patio or the front porch, and you say no.

And just in case you were wondering, you can’t bring all that firewood for your backyard chiminea. Texas doesn’t even like Texans moving firewood from one part of the state to another, for fear of spreading potential or active infestations. Check out the Texas info on DontMoveFirewood.org – and consider giving that chiminea a good washing too before trying to carry that across the border into Texas.

Firearms

And what would Texas be without guns? In keeping with their wild, wild west reputation, the state makes it easy for lawful firearms carriers from other states to legally carry in Texas, either through reciprocal or unilateral agreements with those other states. In other words, just like having a driver’s license from another state allows you to legally drive in Texas, having a permit to carry a firearm in another state allows you to legally carry your firearm in Texas.

The analogy is not perfect, of course. Texas has no firearm-carry agreements with Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, Vermont or New Hampshire. And while you have 90 days upon relocating to Texas to switch your driver’s license over, there is no requirement whatsoever to register your firearm in the State of Texas.

None.

How’s that for wild?

It’s not complete anarchy, of course. “Texas requires any individual in possession of a handgun to inform a law enforcement officer of their permit or license to carry if an officer asks them for identification.” Texas also spells out restrictions and requirements regarding carrying in vehicles, open carry and places where carrying is illegal.

As far as transporting your firearm from your old state to your new home in Texas, your most pressing concern might be following the laws of the various states you may be passing through along your way.

In some ways, Texas seems like an almost lawless land. In others, the laws can seem unduly convoluted. You can have a gun. You can get a tiger. Just be sure to leave the tangerines behind!


Illustrations by Subin Yang

Here’s What Happened to Me After One Month Inside a Smart Home

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Like most 90s kids, I watched every single Disney Channel Original Movie—and there was no DCOM I loved more than Smart House. I was fascinated by the idea of a house equipped with “Personal Applied Technology” (“PAT” for short) that could listen and respond to every request while providing accurate information on demand. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a home that could make my favorite smoothie, project any movie or music video I could imagine onto any wall, then turn my bedroom into a virtual beach.

As an adult, I still love Smart House, but for more practical reasons, admittedly.

During the process of making my house “smart” in the modern age, I discovered two common misconceptions. First, building a smart home is expensive, and second, so many gadgets require you to have to automate everything

After doing some serious digging, it turns out that neither is true. In fact, it’s possible to start off with just a wifi signal and one or two smart devices. 

Here’s what happened in my first month of installing a bunch of new devices.

It’s True: I Became Really Accustomed to Talking Out Loud to No One, Like in the Commercials

I’ve been slow to adopt the “Hey Siri” function on my iPhone, but I am all about asking my Amazon Echo to launch my favorite playlist or tell me the weather. Alexa and Echo’s personalities are like a personal butler who has more than 1,000 specific skills. I’ve learned to ask mine for everything from calling an Uber to helping me manage my finances. I felt weird at first about giving commands to an empty room, but I quickly learned to love the hands-free, immediate feedback Alexa provides.

The Echo, Apple’s new HomePod, and Google Home all serve as central hubs for your newly connected home. If you’re still uncertain about smart home tech (or if you want to feel like you’re actually living in Smart House) I highly recommend starting off with one of these gadgets.

I Actually Started to Feel Safer (and Got Accustomed to the Convenience Quickly)

One key reason that people enter the smart house game is for improved home security. It’s possible to go big with wireless cameras, motion sensors, doorbells, smoke alarms and more, but I started with a smart lock after seeing the technology at a few Airbnb stays. You’ve probably used keypad entry locks, but did you know that you can now open your lock with your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone simply by approaching the door or with a single fingerprint? Yes, James Bond, it’s true!

I definitely feel safer living alone after installing a smart lock. The technology is notoriously difficult to “pick,” and there’s no risk of my keys falling into the wrong hands or of forgetting to lock the door when I leave. I can also remotely grant entry to my dog-walker. Finally, I’ve gone a whole month without dropping my groceries, gym bag, purse and lunchbox in a pile on my steps as I search for my keys.

I Slowly Stressed Less About Both Cooking and Cleaning

Crock-pot.com

Adulting is hard work, and I often struggle to find the time to prepare a wholesome meal and deep clean my home. I’ve long known about the magic of slow-cooking, but the Smart Crock-Pot takes it to the next level. I can control the device from my smartphone, which means I can adjust time, temperature, or power if I’m running late for dinner—no more relying on the appliance itself to switch over to warm or turn off.  

Similar to slow cookers, robot vacuums have been on the market for awhile, and now I’m wondering why I didn’t invest sooner. The Roomba is the most recognizable of the bunch, but there’s a wide range of options for cost and functionality—and most can be programmed and scheduled with your smart home hub. Sigh of relief over here as my robot vacuum takes over the burden of this unpleasant chore.

My Dog Got Hooked on the Automation Too

furbo.com

Smart home tech also extends to pets. My dog likes to be fed on a schedule—he knows exactly when dinner is on its way and makes sure to remind me if I’m a minute behind. Like a smart slow cooker, a wifi-enabled smart dog feeder is a lifesaver if I’m working late or have other evening plans. My feeder allows me to set up mealtimes and portion sizes right from my phone. I’ve found that my dog is less likely to whine at my feet for food and treats because he knows to expect it regularly from his feeder. He’s even lost a little bit of extra weight since we started using this gadget, and I feel like a more responsible dog parent.

Disney was remarkably prescient about the future of home automation when it created Smart House. It may have seemed far-fetched back then, but it turns out you actually can live out that childhood dream of having your house do everything for you! 


Emily Long is a home safety and automation expert for SafeWise. She loves to geek out on new tech gadgets and home improvement projects. When she isn’t writing about smart home tech, she can be found teaching yoga, road tripping or hiking in the mountains.

The Stuff That’s Illegal To Bring Into California

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Question: What do pecan shells, ferrets and flamethrowers have in common?

Answer: They are all things you can’t bring into the state of California.

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Pet Relocation 101: How to Move With a Dog

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Tons of dogs and pets are moving across the country every day. Can you imagine it? Hopefully, their owners know that getting them to their new home safely involves a lot more than making sure they don’t pee in the car.

So today, in the spirit of keeping our dogs happy and our cars clean, we bring you our top tips for taking care of your pup before, during and even after your big move.

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Mover Loses Dog on Move

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[Synopsis: One mover loses a family’s most prized living possession, just in time for Christmas.]

On a typical move, we have to take care of a hundred things, carrying boxes and the belongings of countless shapes and sizes without – in theory – breaking or losing anything.

Last month, a certain mover down in Australia had exactly ONE thing to take care of.

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Help a Friend Move (Without Lifting Anything)

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Let’s say your friends are moving into a new home. And if these friends of yours are smart they’ve already hired helpers, so they’re all set for their big moving day. But you – being the amazing, thoughtful, generous friend that you are – still want to somehow help these friends with their move. Since the physical moving and lifting part is covered (thanks, HireAHelper!), you need to get a bit more creative when it comes to helping out.

Fear not! Moving is more than just picking up boxes; Here are five ways to help your friends move without any heavy lifting.

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