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Can I Legally Bring Cheese back from Italy

Can I Legally Bring Cheese back from Italy

Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:05 AM
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Can I Legally Bring Cheese back from Italy

Ok, I've done this for the last couple of years, and always vacuum packed, but I have never declared it and have always sweated bullets until I've cleared customs. I know I should just declare it, but I've seen people being pulled out of line, never to be seen again, if they've declared any "food" items. The last time I did this, I swore I would never do it again. But now that my cheese is almost gone from my March trip, I'm beginning to rethink my vow to never do it again. I would love to go back to Volpetti in Rome when I'm there in Sept. and bring back some more of that wonderful Pecorino Romano and other delicious cheeses. I actually looked it up in my little immigration rule book that I got with my Nexus card so I can go back and forth across the Canadian border with no hassles, and I still cannot find a definitive answer to this question. I'm pretty sure bringing back hard cheeses that have been vacuumed pack is ok. But, if you do declare it and if they do ask you about it, are you hassled? Do you have to go through a different kind of inspection? Please all you cheese lovers who bring back cheese too - let me know your experiences. I would love to bring back some of those yummy sausages and salami, but I do know that's a no no.
Barb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:07 AM
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I think it's fine if it's vacuum-packed.
sera is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:20 AM
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I went to Volpettis and brought back the following:

6 bottles of Tuscan Olive Oil

1 kilo of Drunken Cacciocavallo

2 store made hard salamis

2 bottles of aceto balsamico(15 and 20yr old)

All the foods were vacuum packed there. I did not tell customs I had the salami or cheese. No problem as they never looked in my bags. I now have a fridge full of Italian Heaven! Take a chance, if they nail you the worst that happens is they make you give it up. Plead stupidity, "I didn't know", or "The deli said I could bring it back no problem"
OpusX is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:27 AM
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Hi Barb,

You may bring back hard cheeses.

You may bring back soft cheeses in sealed containers.

You may bring back foie gras in sealed containers.

You may bring back almost anything else.


ira is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:33 AM
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A few years ago I brought back cheese from the Netherlands and claimed it. On my customs form I checked "yes" to the question "Are you brining in food?" They asked me what kind of food I had, I told them, then they waved me on through.

On every trip to Europe, I bring back chocolates. I don't always put it on my form, but if they ask, I will tell them I have chocolate bars. They don't seem to care.
P_M is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:34 AM
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Ira, have you done so and if so, did you declare it? Or are you like me, bring it back and hope they don't ask. That's what I really want to find out. What happens when you declare it and how does that affect your trip through customs.
Barb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:35 AM
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The K9 customs corps busted me recently - i was waiting for my checked luggage and a beagle with handler comes up and plops his head on my daypack, which was on the floor and wouldn't budge - just kept its nose to the bag. The agent asked if i had any meats, fruits or veggies and i was standing there eating a carrot - i knew it was in my bag and decided to eat it rather than throw it away. There was no foodstuff in my daypack but i had had the carrot there and the dog was smelling it even though i now had it in my hand. The agent wrote me up and told me to go to the agricultural check - i explained my story there and another agent apologized for what the dog agent had done - a bit extreme and let me go. Apparently the dogs bust a lot of folks coming back from Italy who are carrying salamis - strictly Verboten to bring in. This applies to any type of meat - canned, vacuumed or not - i wonder if dogs can sniff out vacuum-packed meats? Probably so.
PalQ is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:39 AM
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I've brought back vacuumed-packed cheeses and not declared it. Guess I don't understand why you would if your total is under the limit ($500?). I would worry that if I mentioned it the cheese would be confiscated for the customs-agents to enjoy later.
sera is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:44 AM
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There's no problem bringing in sealed cheese, but the dilemma is whether to declare it or not. We usually don't, and just breeze right thru customs. On our last trip to Spain, we had cheese and delared it on the customs card. Because of this, we had to go over to the agricultural booth for inspection. He just peeked in the bag (which also had 6 bottles of wine!), and passed us thru. By being honest, we spent another 10 minutes or so getting thru customs - a moral dilemma!!
zootsi is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:46 AM
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PalQ, that's why I was sweating bullets. I had about 20 lbs of very aromatic cheese in my carry on. It was vacuumed packed, but I wasn't sure if dogs could smell it. This was in Cinn. I had about 3 min. to make my plane to Seattle, My bag was on the conveyer belt and they grabbed the bag in front of mine and told the guy they were going to inspect for food items!!! I almost had a heart attack. When my bag came through, I grabbed it and put my shoes back on walking very fast, truly expecting to hear someone say "STOP". As I luckily made my flight - they were holding it for me - that was when I vowed to not do that ever again. Now that memory is fading and I am wondering whether to tempt fate again. I think this time, as I land in Vancouver a straight shot from London and no connecting flight to make, I will declare it and see what happens. Instead of trying to bring back meat products, I just try to eat as much sausage and salami while I am there that I won't want to look at another sausage - at least for a day or so.
Barb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:59 AM
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Zootsi, See that's what I mean. I've seen people being pulled out of line and disappearing and me wondering if this is because they have declared food items, or if they failed to put the items on their declaration forms. I wonder what they would do with you if you didn't put food items on the form and then they found food items - aha, you lied to us ... take this person away. I guess the dilemma is, declare it, expect extra time getting through customs, maybe missing your connecting flight, or take your chances of not getting caught and feeling like a criminal. Even though it's probably just fine to bring back the cheese, the question is, declare or not declare. Has anyone besides PalQ been busted?
Barb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:01 PM
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Barb, I think you and I were posting at the same time earlier. Please see my earlier post about declaring my cheese.
P_M is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:04 PM
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its not worth the risk folks. imagine telling your cell mate why you were doing time: "when i was stopped i had sausage on me"

"sausage? thats what they are calling it these days?"

"no. i mean SAUSAGE!"
got1tiel is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:28 PM
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We brought back olive oil, sundried tomatoes, and dried porcini mushrooms - all vacuum packed in 2003. Upon arrival at Canada Customs we were pulled aside because we declared our food items. The officer asked us what we brought and how the items were packaged. Upon answering, she waved us through without even asking to see the items.
Last year we returned from France with canned and vacuum packed goods - same approach in declaring the food but they didn't even get checked. We have never brought back any meat items.
Hana is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:34 PM
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I had a completely unsealed lunch bag with two very pungent cheeses inside, and I threw into it the apple that was given as part of the airline meal, on a trip back from France (this was several years ago). I made no attempt to conceal anything. And the Ag Dept guy asked me for my bag, set the cheeses out on the counter, rooted around and found the apple, took it for the discard bin, returned the cheeses back into the bag and told me "have a nice day".

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:12 PM
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We brought back vacuum-packed hard homemade cheeses that my aunt makes in Italy. We also brought back cured, vacuum-sealed meats with no problem (although we never declared any of it!) I have seen cured, vacuum-packed meats at the airport for sale.
AP6380 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:23 PM
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I brought in a couple of salamis, wrapped in many many layers of plastic wrap. But I think if a beagle had been working, the jig would have been up. I know -- I have a beagle.
vedette is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:30 PM
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Thanks all. I don't think I will risk it with vaccum packed meat products, but I will continue to bring back and enjoy the cheeses. I think I will declare from now on, but maybe only if I know I have time to make my connecting flight.
Barb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:31 PM
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Woops, that should be a winky face.
Barb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:39 PM
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I tried to smuggle in salami from France and tulips from the Netherlands and got busted. They searched through all our bags, gave me a stern warning and lecture about the danger I was potentially inflicting on our country, and said they were putting me in the computer so that if I was caught smuggling again I would pay a hefty fine and possibly go to jail. However, they did not catch the sprigs of hay we picked in Normany as a memento. My brother the biologist flipped and told me it was probably more "dangerous" than the salami and tulips combined.
mebe is offline  

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