Edible Souvenirs: U.S. Customs Guidelines

Edible Souvenirs: U.S. Customs Guidelines
The most important imported item these days? Often it is food, glorious food. Here are some popular imports and the rules that apply to them.

Many travelers look forward to bringing home special food items from abroad. However, it is important to “know before you go” what items can and can’t be brought into the United States from abroad. Failure to declare food products can result in a minimum fine of US$ 250. Here are some tips:

Upon entering the United States, passengers must declare all fruits and vegetables to a Customs and Border Protection officer.
Upon entering the United States, passengers must declare all fruits and vegetables to a Customs and Border Protection officer.

Every fruit or vegetable must be declared to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, and must be presented for inspection — no matter how free of pests it appears to be. Many are prohibited, and some require an import permit.

Fruits and vegetables grown in Canada are generally admissible, if they have labels identifying them as products of Canada . (Potatoes from western regions of Canada are currently restricted because of a disease outbreak.)

Meats, poultry and their products are either prohibited or restricted from entering the United States, depending on the animal-disease situation in the country of origin. Fresh meat is prohibited from most countries. Canned, cured, or dried meat is restricted from some countries. A permit is required for frozen, cooked, canned or otherwise processed beef, lamb and veal from Canada.

Bakery items, candy, chocolate and cured cheese are generally admissible. Canned goods and goods in vacuum-packed jars, other than those containing meat or poultry products, are generally admissible if being imported for personal use. Dairy items such as milk, yogurt, and butter are regulated but generally admissible, although this is subject to change, depending on disease outbreaks.

Uncooked eggs in most cases will be denied entry because of frequent outbreaks of exotic Newcastle disease (a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds) and the highly pathogenic avian influenza, better known as bird flu. Hardboiled eggs are generally admissible.

Disease outbreaks can cause changes to dairy regulations.
Disease outbreaks can cause changes to dairy regulations.

Hard-cured cheeses, such as Parmesan or cheddar, are generally admissible, but soft cheeses such as Brie, and soft-curd cheese and cheeses in water (ricotta, feta, etc.) are regulated.

Fish, if it is for personal use, is generally admissible.

Condiments such as oil, vinegar, mustard, catsup, pickles, syrup, honey (without the honeycomb), jelly and jam are generally admissible.

Pork and pork products are not admissible from most countries.

If you have any questions about CBP procedures, requirements, or policies regarding travelers, or if you have any complaints about treatment you received from CBP officers or about your CBP processing, please contact:

Customer Service Center

Office of Public Affairs

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20229

(877) 227-5511

For further information:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

www.cbp.gov

 

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