Traveling to Europe? Here's A Guide To What Food Can You Bring Home With You

Traveling to Europe? Here's A Guide To What Food Can You Bring Home With You

Whenever you travel in Europe, you will always be tempted to bring things back to the US with you. We've all filled out the customs form that they hand you on the plane asking you to declare everything you're bringing home with you, but there still stands the question of what is allowed back into the US.  

First, as a rule, you must declare everything you bring back. If you don’t and they find it, you can be fined up to $10,000. In general, no meat, rice, fruit or vegetable is allowed to be brought back into the US. This said, there are exceptions depending on the country. If items are commercially packed, unopened and labeled, they will stand a better chance of being accepted.

You may pack a bottle of wine in your suitcase, but if you want more than a bottle, you may need to ship it. Shipping alcoholic beverages through a courier is permitted, however, duty will be collected on the entire shipment (there is no duty exemption for alcohol not accompanying a traveler), and the courier will probably charge handling and Customs Broker fees that could significantly raise the cost of the shipment.

Here is a list of admissible items as stated on the US Customs and Border Protection website:

  • Condiments: Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, Marmite and Vegemite and prepared sauces that do not contain meat products
  • Oils: Olive oil and other vegetable oils
  • Baked products: Bread, cookies, crackers, cakes, granola bars, cereal and other baked and processed products
  • Cheese: If wrapped in plastic and vacuum sealed, hard or semi-soft, that does not contain meat. Feta, Brie, Camembert, cheese in brine, Mozzarella and Buffalo Mozzarella are permissible, however, cheese in liquid (such as cottage cheese or ricotta cheese) and cheese that pours like heavy cream are not admissible. 
  • Seafood: If vacuum sealed, fish, shrimp, abalone and other seafood are allowed and can be fresh, frozen, dried, smoked, canned or cooked
  • Dried Fruit: Apricots, barberry, currants, dates, figs, gooseberries, peaches, prunes, raisins, tomatillos, and zereshk
  • Juices: If 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, and lemongrass
  • Honey: Comb honey, royal jelly, bee bread, or propolis if it is not intended to be fed to bees
  • Rice: White, basmati, brown, husked, and polished rice. Non-commercial quantities of 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).

Sources and additional reading material:
US Customs & Border Protection
The Daily Meal
Tips for bringing alcohol into the US
Prohibited/Restricted Items