Forgot to Declare Food? That Could Cost You Global Entry and a Hefty Fine. CNN reports that Crystal Tadlock, a U.S. citizen returning to the U.S. from France, kept an apple given to her on her Delta flight from Paris to Minneapolis, and thought nothing of it when she was answering questions on the Global Entry Kiosk, answering “no” to the question asking if she was bringing in food.
But the Customs and Border Protection Agent who found the apple in her bag was not amused. Apparently he asked her if her flight to France was expensive, and then continued “It's about to get a whole lot more expensive,” before fining her $500 and having her Global Entry status revoked.
Most frequent travelers know that you can't bring fresh fruit or vegetables, or other fresh agricultural products such as fresh milk or meat, into the U.S., on account of the potential for plant pests or animal diseases. But it can be easy to forget a lone piece of fruit in one of your bags, and this is a reminder to be extra vigilant when getting ready to return to the U.S., about any food you may be carrying.
And rather than answering “no” to everything, if you have food of any kind (even if just some chocolates as a gift) be sure to declare it. U.S. Customs and Border Control notes that failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties. Sure, it might take an extra couple minutes to detail the various foods you have with you, but better safe than sorry. Losing Global Entry status would be a huge step backwards for most–no TSA PreCheck, and no expedited re-entry when returning to the U.S.
Speaking of strict enforcement of bans on bringing food and animal products into a country, New Zealand, as a huge exporter of agricultural products, also is one to be careful about. There are stiff fines there too for not declaring all food, and we weren't able to take in even small containers of honey (although our dried cherries were no problem). You also must ensure your hiking boots and shoes are clean, so that you aren't bringing in dirt with potential pests and seeds in it.
Have you ever forgotten to declare food when entering the U.S. (or another country) and been questioned about it?
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