Bringing Food into the United States

Bringing Food into the United States

U.S. Customs and Border Protection regrets that it is necessary to take agricultural items from your baggage. They cannot be brought into the United States because they may carry animal and plant pests and diseases. Restricted items include meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil, and products made from animal or plant materials.

Agricultural pests and diseases are a threat to U.S. food crops and livestock. Some of these organisms are highly contagious animal diseases that could cause severe economic damage to the livestock industry and losses in production, which would mean increased costs for meat and dairy products. Other pests can affect property values by damaging lawns, ornamental plants, trees, and even homes. 

Bakery items and some types of cheese can be brought into the U.S. 

If you have an import permit, you may be allowed to import some plants, cuttings, unprocessed plant products, seeds, and certain endangered species into the U.S. You may require an export permit from the country of origin for threatened or endangered species.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are partners in this effort to protect American agriculture against the introduction of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases at our nation’s ports of entry. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) develops the policies that determine what agricultural products can come into the country and what products pose a risk and should be kept out. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces these agricultural policies at points of entry. Confiscated items are carefully destroyed in special CBP facilities. For additional information, write to:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
Office of Field Operations
Agriculture Programs and Liaison 
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20229

For more information on agricultural policy, please call APHIS’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) at +1-877-770-5990 or +1-301-851-2046. If you have any questions, please write to:

Quarantine Policy Analysis and Support Staff
4700 River Road
Unit 60
Riverdale, MD 20737 

CBP: Protecting America’s Agricultural Resources


You are allowed to bring medicines into the U.S. as long as they are not any type of prohibited drug, such as GHB, Fen-Phen, Rohypnol, etc. The quantity that you bring should be for personal use, depending upon your dosage and the duration of your stay. If you are bringing cough medicines, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, stimulants, or antidepressants that may potentially be addictive or are classified as narcotics, you may have trouble bringing them into the U.S. However, if you bring them in original containers, carry a limited quantity for personal use, carry a prescription or written statement from the physician that these medicines are indeed prescribed by him/her, and they are necessary for the well-being of the patient, you should be fine.

Related Articles:

Bringing Pets into United States

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