The Basics

Apollo 11 Astronauts Filled Out This Customs Form When They Returned from the Moon – Check it Out!

Written by Charlie

Believe it or not, when the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to earth from the moon, they did fill out a customs form! Here it is and what they claimed on their return.

Just a couple of days ago, July 24th, it was 52 years since the Apollo 11 astronauts splashed down on their return to earth from the moon. And, just like every other traveler returning to the US, they filled out a customs form! Here is what it looked like and the items they claimed on their return!

Apollo 11 Astronauts Filled Out This Customs Form

Of course in the digital age we are in now, and thanks to things like Global Entry, many Americans returning to the US do not have to fill out a physical customs form. But, back in 1969, even astronauts filled out a customs form when they returned to the US – from the moon!

Fun fact, even modern day astronauts fill out these forms as well since their launches and returns often take place through other countries.

NASA said that this had indeed been filled out and signed by all three Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. They said it had been a little bit of a joke at the time and it does poke a bit of fun at the well-known nature of bureaucracy! Speaking of which, Jack Swigert on the famous Apollo 13 spacecraft had forgotten to file his taxes in time because they had been the backup crew and were thrust to the primary so quickly. Check out this transcript here when he asks about the taxes and the hilarious comments from Mission Control.

Here is a copy of their original customs form that the three astronauts signed.

The Apollo 11 crew’s customs form | Courtesy of NASA

I love that they did this – and check out their route! Departing Cape Kennedy and then the Moon followed by their arrival back into the US at Honolulu. I really like their notes under cargo as well: Moon Rock, Moon Dust, and Samples. In all, the crew had brought back 50 moon rocks and a total of 47 pounds of lunar material (which included the moon rocks). Some of the rocks were given to nations as goodwill gestures with some disappearing and still being missing to this day. You know how we have that part about value of items we bring into the US? Good thing they did not have to fill that part out! Try millions of dollars in value – or more!

The crew was kept in isolation for three weeks as it was unknown what diseases/germs they may have brought back with them. When they saw President Nixon, it was from their isolation chamber when they arrived onboard the recovery ship, the USS Hornet.

President Nixon meeting the Apollo 11 astronauts upon their recovery |Courtesy of NASA

So, remember this story next time you have to fill out a customs form of your own! 🙂

Featured image courtesy of NASA

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.