On Tuesday I wrote about our close call with getting fined and losing Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check when our 3 year old brought an apple with him from a Miami hotel to Brazil and back to Miami again.
The comments on that post are fascinating, with lots of people sharing stories of how they were let go with a warning or got hit with a fine and loss of their Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check after failing to declare food. Some were chastised for having something as harmless as a can of Coke without disclosing it on the form. Like a speeding ticket, the only difference between getting a warning of a punishment appears to be the mood of the officer.
The one lesson from that post is that if you have any food whatsoever, make sure to check box 11a and/or 11b:
Lying about any of those statements can result in a fine and the permanent loss of Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check. Even if you just have a piece of candy, you should check that you do have food and let the agent know exactly what you have.
Here is a list of items that you are allowed to bring into the US, but they must be declared on the customs form or at the Global Entry kiosk:
- Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, Marmite, Vegemite, and prepared sauces that do not contain meat products.
- Olive oil and other vegetable oils
- Bread, cookies, crackers, cakes, granola bars, cereal, and other baked and processed products
- Candy and chocolate
- Cheese – Solid cheese (hard or semi-soft, that does not contain meat); butter, butter oil, and cultured milk products such as yogurt and sour cream are not restricted. Feta cheese, Brie, Camembert, cheese in brine, Mozzarella and Buffalo Mozzarella are permissible. Cheese in liquid (such as cottage cheese or ricotta cheese) and cheese that pours like heavy cream are not admissible from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Cheese containing meat is not admissible depending on the country of origin.
- Canned goods and goods in vacuum packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products) for your personal use
- Fish – personal amounts of fish, shrimp, abalone and other seafood are allowed and can be fresh, frozen, dried, smoked, canned or cooked
- Dried Fruit– things like apricots, barberry, currants, dates, figs, gooseberries, peaches, prunes, raisins, tomatillos, and zereshk
- Liquid milk and milk products intended for use by infants or very young children are admissible if in a reasonable amount or small quantity for several days use.
- Powder drinks sealed in original containers with ingredients listed in English.
- Juices – commercially canned
- Tea– commercially packaged and ready to be boiled, steeped or microwaved in liquid. Coca, barberry and loose citrus leaves are prohibited.
- Coffee – roasted or unroasted if there is no pulp attached.
- Spices – most dried spices are allowed except for orange, lemon, lime and other citrus leaves and seeds, lemongrass, and many vegetable and fruit seeds
- Honey– comb honey, royal jelly, bee bread, or propolis if it is not intended to be fed to bees
- Noodles and ramen that do not have meat or eggs in the spice packets
- Rice– white rice, basmati rice, brown rice, husked rice, polished rice, rice flour and other products that do not have the hull attached. Rice from countries where Khapra beetle is known to occur will be prohibited from entering the United States. Failure to declare rice will result in fines.
- Flour– wheat, rice, oat and cornmeal
- Mushrooms, fresh and dried- above ground parts that are clean and free of soil
- Nuts– All nuts are allowed if they have been boiled, cooked, ground, oven dried, pureed, roasted, or steamed. Other nuts may be allowed if they are free from their husks (the shell remains), such as almonds, betel nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, coquilla nuts, filberts (hazelnuts), Java olives, kara nuts, gingko nuts, macadamias, pecans, pili nuts, pine nuts (pinon nuts), pistachios, and walnuts.
- Bakery items, candy, chocolate, and dry mixes containing dairy and egg ingredients [such as baking mixes, cocoa mixes, drink mixes, instant cake mixes, instant pudding mixes, liquid drink mixes containing reconstituted dry milk or dry milk products (including those that contain sugar), potato flakes, and infant formula] commercially labeled and presented in final finished packaging are generally admissible.
In general, you should avoid bringing fruits, vegetables, chicken, and meat (raw or cooked) into the US. There are case-by-case exceptions, but you should assume that these items will be confiscated, even if they’re declared.
Most countries are not as vigilant as the US. This DDF thread includes a wiki where people share which countries do or do not cause issues for bringing food past customs. You can add your experience to that thread.
Have you ever gotten in trouble for bringing food into a country? Share your stories below!