Postal officials warn of heavy fines for mailing home banned foods
November 13, 2003
Trying to mail certain items to the States can end up costing the sender a lot more than the cost of postage.
Mailing illegal items such as meat products or alochol can result in fines of up to $250.
“Many people do not know that Customs and Border Protection may fine you at least $100 if you mail meat or any meat products to the States,” Michael Burkert, director of the U.S. European Command Customs and Border Protection Agency, said in a release.
All meat items are banned from being mailed because European meat may carry the spores of foot-and-mouth disease, a livestock disease that has been eradicated in the States.
Banned items include canned meats, preserved meat, including salami or sausages, and soup mixes that contain meat.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are also banned because they could carry the Mediterranean fruit fly. The small insect lays eggs inside fruits that hatch later, causing decay that can spread to crops.
While furs may be mailed, other wildlife items are excluded, Burkert said. Customs officials recommend that shoppers should insist on a certificate of origin stating the animal’s scientific name to avoid buying fur of an endangered species.
Ivory may be sent only if it has been preregistered with the Customs and Border Protection Agency. Whale teeth carvings, known as netsuke or scrimshaw, are also prohibited from the mail.
Cuban rum and cigars, which are widely available in Europe, are also barred from being sent to the States because of economic sanctions.
In addition, there are certain items that can be carried in luggage to the States but that cannot be mailed there. For example, travelers 21 and older may carry one liter of duty-free liquor in their baggage. Liquor-filled candies and chocolates are also prohibited.
For information on customs regulations, pick up an international mail imports pamphlet at a military customs office or visit the Customs and Border Protection Agency Web site at www.customs.gov.