When you travel, it’s likely you’ll want to bring home more than just memories of your trip. If you are someone who likes to bring home souvenirs, mementos, food gifts or other objects from overseas, there’s some important information you need to know. Selecting the wrong kinds of items could bring back more than you bargained for… you may also bring along diseases or invasive species that could threaten forests, farms or even your garden. These seemingly harmless items could devastate United States agriculture.
So how do you know what’s safe – and what’s not? Well, that’s where we come in!
As part of our mission to keep potentially harmful pests and diseases that can hitchhike on food and other agricultural products out of the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently launched a new website to help answer these questions.
The new, mobile-friendly webpage is now broken down by category and includes graphics to help you navigate to the right spot. We spell out what is generally allowed and what is not – in everyday language. There are phone numbers and email addresses in case you need extra assistance.
Taking a few minutes to check out this site before you head overseas – or even while you are selecting items during your trip – can save you a lot of headaches when you return to the United States. For example, did you know that you cannot bring in most fresh fruits and vegetables because they can carry plant pests or diseases? However, roasted coffee, many dried spices, and commercially canned fruits and vegetables are generally allowed once they’ve been inspected by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.
Here are a few other tips from our import experts:
- Declare all the agricultural products you are bringing with you.
- If you want to travel with your pet, plan at least 30 days ahead of your departure date.
So, whether you're a U.S. resident returning from abroad or a foreign visitor traveling to the United States, USDA wishes you a safe and enjoyable trip. Just check our site beforehand so you’ll be able to bring items in with confidence that they won’t harm U.S. agriculture or natural resources.