San Juan, P.R. - One of the many responsibilities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers and Agriculture Specialists is to protect United States agriculture by ensuring that products, which might be detrimental to our agriculture, do not enter the country. This is the reason why CBP agriculture specialists examine travelers and cargo upon their arrival from foreign countries.
All travelers entering the U.S. are required to declare any meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, animal products, and any live animals or animal products they may be carrying. Some of these articles can harbor exotic animal and plant pests and diseases that could seriously damage America's crops, livestock or the environment, thus harming the national economy. Other products might be restricted, depending on the season or the place of origin of the item. Additionally, travelers are required to declare if during their trip they visited a farm or had been in close proximity to livestock. This again is to prevent someone from inadvertently introducing harmful pests to the country.
Failure to declare products that are prohibited could result in the item been seized and disposed of by CBP agriculture specialists. Civil penalties anywhere from $1,000 for a first violation, up to $50,000, could be imposed. These fees also apply to prohibited agricultural products sent through the international mail.
As a general rule, depending on the country of origin, certain fruits, vegetables and plants can be brought into the United States without special permits, as long as they are declared, inspected and are found free of pests or disease. However, certain plants and any plant part or seeds intended for growing, require a foreign phytosanitary certificate in advance. For information related to the required certificates, you might contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture at (301) 734-0841.
Most meat and meat products, fresh, dried or canned, are prohibited entry due to the continuing threat of diseases, such as Foot and Mouth Disease. Because regulations concerning meat and meat by-products change frequently, travelers should contact the consulate or local agricultural office in the country of origin for up-to-date information on the disease status of that country. Live animals, birds and biological products are also strictly regulated and might require a permit or be subject to quarantine rules. It is important that you find out the rules prior to traveling foreign.
Furthermore, certain soil-borne organisms can be inadvertently introduced onto shoes or clothing upon visiting a farm and can pose a threat to domestic plants and animals. For this reason, agriculture specialists might require examining personal belongings, shoes or clothing.
We recommend you visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site, where you will find additional information regarding agriculture regulations for travelers. (CBP Website) You could also call the CBP Info center at (877) 227-5511, where a Spanish translator may be able to answer your questions in your native language.
We encourage everyone's cooperation in order to protect U.S. agriculture and our nations' natural resources.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.