What to Bring

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We hope students new to the U.S. or to the Pacific Norht West area can reference information on this page to decide what to pack!

Clothing and Shoes

Since the climate in the Pacific Northwest varies greatly from day to day, we recommend that you bring a wide range of clothing with you. You will need items such as a heavy winter coat or jacket, boots, gloves, hats and rain gear. You will also need lightweight items, such as shorts, sandals and t-shirts for warmer weather. Most importantly, bring clothes and shoes that you are going to be most comfortable with. Students dress casually on campus.


It is never a good idea to travel with large sums of money. We recommend that students bring a combination of cash and credit cards to meet the initial costs of getting to campus, and at least the first month’s expenses. Students should also plan to open a bank account once they are here and have their family or sponsor wire-transfer money to your account.

Visit the Money Matters FAQs for questions regarding money.

Medicine, Eyeglasses and/or Contact Lenses

If you require any prescription medication or eyewear, be sure to bring them with you. It is also a good idea to bring an extra supply of any medicines that you are used to using at home, an extra set of eyeglasses or contact lenses, and for your doctor to provide a copy of your prescriptions. If you have any health concerns or medical conditions, bring a copy of medical, dental, and immunization records. 

Personal Items

Depending on your educational plans, you may be spending a long period of time away from home. To help prevent homesickness, it is a good idea to bring personal items such as pictures of your family and friends, small gifts, traditional clothes, maps, posters, music, and items that represent you or your culture. These items will be helpful for you to introduce yourself and your country to people who you meet here. These items will also help you feel close to your home.

There will be events on campus in which students are encouraged to share their cultures and traditions through demonstrations and performances. Please bring traditional dresses, musical instruments, stationary or other items that represent your country or culture!

Food items

You may want to pack a few non-perishable foods, sweets and/or cooking spices. Sharing your food is also a great way to make friends and to share part of your culture with others. There will be events on campus in which students are encouraged to share dishes from home! Please bring your favorite recipes and items that you need to cook the dish which are difficult to obtain in the U.S.

Be aware that the United States has laws that prohibit or restrict certain foods, plants, animals, and other agricultural items from other countries because they could be carrying damaging pests and diseases. Always declare and tell a customs official if you have any food, plants, and agricultural items when you arrive to the U.S. You won’t be penalized if you declare, but not declaring can result in a penalty of up to $1000.

Please do NOT pack fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, meats, dairy, wooded handicrafts, plants, seeds, soils, natural medicines, or other agricultural items.

You can find more information about what is prohibited at this website: https://www.dontpackapest.com/Travel-Guidelines.

Here are some resources for more information:

Important Documents

Hand-carry passport/visa and I-20/ DS-2019 on the airplane and make copies. Bring contact information of your family members, friends or sponsors. Do Not Pack These Items In Your Checked Luggage!

Please also keep the following contact information with you:

International Student & Scholar Services

International Student & Scholar Services
University of Washington Tacoma
Campus Box 358401
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402-3100
Garretson Woodruff Pratt 102 (GWP 102)

What else?

Stuff for Your On-Campus Room or Apartments
Search "essential items, college students" online.
Prohibited and Restricted Items to Bring to the U.S.
Review the published list of restricted items from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Custom and Border Protection.
Prohibited Items to Bring onto Airplane
Review the published list of restricted items from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration.