Food and USA Customs

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  1. #1

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    Food and USA Customs

    Hey everyone,
    I did a search and didn't see anything, but I'm sorry if this has been addressed before. I'm going back to the US in a few days, and I'm thinking of bringing with me a few questionable items, namely:

    -Pre-packaged Chinese pork pastries
    -Dried shrimp from Koi Kei Bakery in Macau
    -Cuban cigarillos

    Anyone have any thoughts/experience on whether they'll be allowed? The customs website is a bit vague on pre-packaged goods containing meat. I'm also not sure about the cigarillos-I'd like to keep them in their original box, but it does say "100% Tabaco Cubano" all over it. Anyone have any idea how lenient they are about this sort of thing? Thanks for any and all advice.


  2. #2

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    I would say those are all quite clearly forbidden. If they find them they will certainly be confiscated and you may get fined (US$300 is, I think, the basic fine for not declaring such items).

    http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/cl...ban_cigars.xml
    http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/va...tockandPoultry

    Last edited by PDLM; 21-12-2009 at 12:26 AM.

  3. #3

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    Yeah, I know it seems like a stupid question when looking at those articles. However, I'm wondering more if they enforce the law in all situations or if the prohibition on such items is mostly targeted at people trying to redistribute them in the US.


  4. #4

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    If they find 'em, they'll take them. You might not get fined (if you're lucky), but they will throw them away.


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bradosev:
    Yeah, I know it seems like a stupid question when looking at those articles. However, I'm wondering more if they enforce the law in all situations or if the prohibition on such items is mostly targeted at people trying to redistribute them in the US.
    Cuban cigars are prohibited due to the embargo but food products are usually prohibited to prevent bringing in and spreading diseases. From the 2nd link provided by PDLM:

    Meats, Livestock and Poultry
    The regulations governing meat and meat products are stringent. You may not import fresh, dried or canned meats or meat products from most foreign countries into the United States. Also, you may not import food products that have been prepared with meat.

    The regulations on importing meat and meat products change frequently because they are based on disease outbreaks in different areas of the world. APHIS, which regulates meats and meat products as well as fruits and vegetables, invites you to contact them for more information on importing meats. A list of countries and/or regions with specific livestock or poultry diseases can be found at the Animal Disease Status page. ( Animal Disease Status )

    You could contact US customs regarding the dried shrimp though, few years ago I took some dried shrimp to Australia (which has very strict quarantine regulations), declared it to customs and they had no objection that I brought it in. The lady who hid some fruits in her purse and got caught by a sniffer dog wasn't that lucky ...

  6. #6

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    Yeah, that all makes sense. I researched a little more, and it looks like packaged seafood is ok if it's for personal use. I think I'll have to have a little tea and pork pastry party before I depart, though. By the way, I came across a Customs and Border Patrol Q&A website that's pretty comprehensive, should anyone else have similar quesitons:

    https://help.cbp.gov/cgi-bin/customs...&p_li=&p_srch=


    Probably should have found that before bothering you all. Thanks again!


  7. #7

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    I have brought many different foods thru customs on me, and gave shipped foods via ups.

    these foods include but are not limited to:
    doughnuts (loose)
    slim jims
    Macau pastries (air sealed)
    Macau dried meats (air sealed)
    canned goods
    Posted via Mobile Device


  8. #8

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    by the way... I declared every bit of it and was not stopped once going in either direction
    Posted via Mobile Device


  9. #9

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    Those are all on the OK list except the dried meats - that really does surprise me. The latest (excellent) link from the OP contains more details which are actually more relaxed than the high level summaries found earlier would suggest.

    Last edited by PDLM; 21-12-2009 at 09:15 AM.