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United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Propram Aid No. 1083
Travelers' Tips On Bringing Food, Plant, and Animal Products Into the United StatesA Special Message for Travelers
Please take a few minutes to become famliliar with restrictions on bringing agricultural products into the United States. This booklet lists acceptable agricultural products and tells you about other products that require permits or are prohibited.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) places limits on items brought to the United States from foreign countries as well as those brought to the mainland from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prohibited items can harbor foreign animal and plant pests and diseases that could seriously damage America's crops, livestock, pets, and the environment.
Because of this threat, you are required to declare any meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, animals, and plant and animal Products you have with vou. Your declaraltion must cover all items carried in your baggage and hand luggage or in your vehicle.
One Piece Can Spell DangerTravelers are often surprised when told that their "one little piece of fruit or meat" can cause serious damage. In fact, one item carelessly discarded can wreak havoc on American crops. For example, it's quite likely that a traveler carried in the wormy fruit that brought Mediterranean fruit flies to California in 1979. The 3-year fight to eradicate this pest cost more than $100 million.
A single link of sausage contaminated with the draeded virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease could do similar damage to the livestock business. Foot-and-mouth disease last struck the United States in 1929. Economists say that an outbreak today would cost farmers and consumers billions of dollars in lost production, higher food prices, and lost export markets.
Declarations Prevent FinesThe declaration You're required to malke may be oral, written, or both. If you're traveling from abroad on a plane or ship, vou will be given a Customs form on which to declare your agricultural products. You will also be asked to indicate whether vou have visited a farm or ranch outside the United States.
Officers of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspect passenger baggage for undeclared agricultural products. At some ports, they use beagle dogs to sniff out hidden items. At other ports, they use low-energy x-ray machines adapted to reveal fruits and meats.
Smugglers get caught. In an average month, more than 3.000 violations are uncovered. A traveler who fails to declare a prohibited item is fined on the spot (up to $250), and the item is confiscated.
Fruits, Vegetables, and PlantsYou may bring in some fruits, vegetables. and plants without advance permission, provided they are declared. inspected, and found free of pests. However, you must get a permit in advance to bring in certain plants and plant parts intended for growing. To bring back endangered or threatened plant species, in some cases you will need permits or certificates from the country of origin as well as from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service.
For information and permit applications. write: USDA, APHIS, Plant Protection and Quarantine, 4700 River Road, Unit 136, Kiverdale, MD 20737-1236; Attn.: Permit UMeat and Animal Products
Meat and Animal ProductsRegulations prohibit you from bringing in fresh, dried, and canned meats and meat products from most foreign countries. If any meat is used in preparing a product, it is prohited. Commercially canned meat is allowed if the inspector can determine that the meat was cooked in the can after it was sealed to make it shelf-stable without refrigeration.
Hunting trophies, game-animal carcasses, and hides are severely restricted. If You intend to bring them in, write to the following address for applicable information and permit forms: USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services, 4700 River Road, Unit 40, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231, ATTN.: National Center for Import/Export.
Live Animals and BirdsLive animals and Birds can enter the United States subject to certification, permits, inspection, and quarantine rules that vary with the amimal and its origin. Dogs that have been in Central and South America pose a special health hazard if they have wounds infested with screwworms. If your dog has even a small wound, be sure to have it treated before vou tr:avel to the United States. The U.S. Public Health Service further restricts imports of dogs, cats, monkeys, and turtles.
Pet birds you purchased abroad for your personal use can enter, subject to restrictions by some State departments of agriculture, if quarantined by USDAA for 30 days. Make quarantine arrangements in advance because falcilities are limited and available at only certain ports. For information and a permit application, write the National Center for Import/ Export at the adress listed previously.
No Federal quarantine is required for personally owned U.S. pet birds returning to the United States. Bring along a valid U.S. veterinary health certificate that individually identifies each bird by referring to a leg band or tattoo. Be sure to keep your bird separated from other birds while out of country. No Federal quarantine is required for pet birds originating in Canada.
Other Biological MaterialsYou must have a permit to bring in most olganisms, cells and cultures, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, and related substances, whether of plant or amimal origin. This category includes organisms and products used in the biotechnology industry. For information and a permit application, write the Zational Center. for Import/Export at the adress previously listed.
Soil, Sand, Minerals, and ShellsSoil-borne organisms threaten both plants and animals. If vou visited a farm or ranch overseas, agricultural inspectors mav have to disinfect your shoes or clothes. Vehicles must also be cleaned of soil.
You may not bring in any soil, earth, or sand, although 1 ounce or less of decorative beach sand is allowed. Rocks, minerals, and shells are allowed, but all sand and soil must be cleaned off. Products grown in soil (like shamrocks and truffles) must be free of soil.
What You Can Bring BackWhen you plan your trip abroad, check the list of approved products. Keep in mind th;ct this list is not all- inclusive. Also, whether or not an item you are bringing into this country appears on the list of apploved products, you are still responsible for declaring to a Federal inspection officer every agricultural product in your possession.
Note that if vou leave the United States with any U.S. agricultural products, you may not be allowed to bring them back in when vou return to the country. Check with a U.S. border official before taking such goods across the border.
If you`re unsure of what`s allowed, call for help. Look in vour phone book for the nearest office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Ilealth Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine; or call the central office at (301) 734-8645. U.S. consulaltes abroad may also be able to answer many of your questions. In addition, APHIS' Internet web page (http:www.aphis.usda.gov) provides up-to-date information on this and other related topics.
General List of Approved ProductsThis list covers products from all areas Except Canada, Mexico, Hawaii. Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.