May 26, 2020

Traveling Abroad? Be Careful What You Bring Back

The USDA is reminding overseas travelers that they should be careful when bringing products back into the United States. Many invasive species have hitched a ride on agricultural products. Then they can wreak havoc on native plants. You must declare all agricultural items to Customs and Border Protection Officers at customs.

Warning Recall SignThis is a general list of the items that are you are allowed to bring into the country, but should still be declared:

  • Condiments
    • Oil
    • Vinegar
    • Mustard
    • Catsup
    • Pickles
    • Syrup
    • Honey (without honey combs)
    • Jelly
    • Jam
  • Bakery items
  • Candy
  • Chocolate
  • Hard cured cheeses without meat
  • Canned goods
  • Vacuum packed jars (other than those with meat, poultry products, and certain dairy products)
  • Fish or fish products
  • Powdered drinks sealed in original containers
  • Dry mixes that are commercially labeled, such as baking mixes, potato flakes, cocoa mixes, drink mixes, and infant formula.

Depending on the country of origin, you may be able to bring back:

  • Some fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Animal products and by-products
  • Plants and plant parts for planting
  • Cut flowers
  • Firewood
  • Miscellaneous agricultural products

In general, meat, milk, egg, poultry, and their products are prohibited or restricted from entering the country. Animal diseases and pests vary from country to country, and situations can change quickly. For instance, cooked pork skins from regions that have food-and-mouth disease or swine fever must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate issued by an official of the country of origin.

If you have any questions about bringing agricultural items back to the United States, consult the USDA web site. In addition, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released a fact sheet that details information for travelers returning from overseas travel. It’s crucial that you declare all food and agricultural items at customs. Failure to declare food products can result in fines and penalties up to $10,000.

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