Forgot to Declare Lentils to US CBP

Old Dec 18, 18, 8:01 am
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Forgot to Declare Lentils to US CBP

Guys

is there an exhaustive list of permitted or restricted items by the CBP

also, a cbp agent told me that as long as I declare yes to the bringing food question, Iím safe even if they find something thatís not allowed and the worst that could happen is disposal of that item. Is that accurate?

thanks
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Old Dec 18, 18, 8:52 am
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From the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website:
What are the general foods that can enter the United States?
And
Bringing Food into the U.S.
And
Prohibited and Restricted Items
As long as you declare the food items, you will be fine even if they are not permitted. However, the forbidden food will be confiscated and destroyed.
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Old Dec 18, 18, 9:06 am
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Yes, the crime is making a false declaration (including GE or orally to CBP). That is why the advice is to always tell the truth. It may cost you something you wished you could have brought in but cut off at the pass all of the lousy potential consequences.
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Old Dec 18, 18, 10:53 am
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i bring in a whole lot of food items - over 10 and declared most of them but forgot to declare the lentils. They were a little angry about that but let me go with a warning. Do you think they've noted this down electronically somewhere?
also there is still no exhaustive list at any of those links - lentils isn't mentioned in any of the categories but they took them

Thx
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Old Dec 18, 18, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by sam007 View Post
i bring in a whole lot of food items - over 10 and declared most of them but forgot to declare the lentils. They were a little angry about that but let me go with a warning. Do you think they've noted this down electronically somewhere?
also there is still no exhaustive list at any of those links - lentils isn't mentioned in any of the categories but they took them

Thx
Regardless of whether it is permitted or not, you must declare all food items.
CBP - What are the general foods that can enter the United States?

Even if you believe a food item is able to enter the United States you must declare to the officer that you are bringing food back. Failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties. When in doubt keep it out.

<snip>
Also, please take a look at this thread:
$300 US Customs Fine for Undeclared Food?
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Old Dec 18, 18, 12:33 pm
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To find out if a plant product is permitted, go to the following data base and choose the country or region of origin from the drop down menu at the top left.
Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR)
And from the
Prohibited and Restricted Items
link above:
Bringing fruits and vegetables depends on a number of factors. For instance, consider the apple you bought in the foreign airport just before boarding and then did not eat. Whether or not CBP will allow the apple into the United States depends on where you got it and where you are going after you arrive in the United States. The same would be true for Mediterranean tomatoes. Such factors are important because fresh fruits and vegetables can introduce plant pests or diseases into the United States.

One good example of problems imported fruits and vegetables can cause is the Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak during the 1980s. The outbreak cost the state of California and the federal government approximately $100 million to get rid of this pest. The cause of the outbreak was one traveler who brought home one contaminated piece of fruit. It is best not to bring fresh fruits or vegetables into the United States. However, if you plan to, contact either CBP or check the Permits section on the USDA-APHIS Web site for a general approved list on items that need a permit.

Note: The civil penalty for failing to declare agricultural items at U.S. ports of entry will cost first time offenders $300. The penalty for the second violation goes up to $500. To avoid receiving a penalty all agricultural items and present them to Customs and Border Protection for inspection so that an agriculture specialist can determine if it is admissible.

Last edited by TWA884; Dec 18, 18 at 12:43 pm
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Old Dec 18, 18, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by sam007 View Post
i bring in a whole lot of food items - over 10 and declared most of them but forgot to declare the lentils. They were a little angry about that but let me go with a warning. Do you think they've noted this down electronically somewhere?
also there is still no exhaustive list at any of those links - lentils isn't mentioned in any of the categories but they took them

Thx
Don't confuse what is permitted with the duty to declare. Many food items are perfectly fine, but the failure to declare them is still a problem.

While it is theoretically possible that CBP (AG) could propose a fine, it is highly unlikely after the fact as they could have handled a fine summarily for something small.

This is a greater issue for those with GE as failure to declare food is a primary reason for revocation.
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Old Dec 19, 18, 6:19 am
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
To find out if a plant product is permitted, go to the following data base and choose the country or region of origin from the drop down menu at the top left.
Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR)
And from the
Prohibited and Restricted Items
link above:
As the name implies, the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements database only covers fruits and vegetables, not seeds, grains, cut flowers, lumber, Christmas trees, live plants, etc etc.

Other manuals are here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/our...tronic-manuals

Lentils for eating would be covered in the Seeds not for Planting manual. In non-commercial quantities, they're subject to inspection (like everything else) but not otherwise restricted. If the bag was nothing but lentils and wasn't infested with insects, s/he should've been able to keep them. (see p. 3-34)

In order to get fined, you have to fail to declare a prohibited item--both conditions are necessary; you can never get an agriculture fine for an item that's not prohibited (even if you deliberately conceal it and intentionally fail to declare it), nor can you get fined for anything declared (even if it's prohibited, heavily infested, etc.). You can in theory be penalized under Customs regulations for failing to declare any item, but for low-value items that are part of your $800 personal exemption--like, say, a bag of lentils--the end result is a $0 penalty anyway. As Often1 points out, it really only matters for GE members who can lose GE for failing to declare anything at all.

Last edited by der_saeufer; Dec 19, 18 at 6:24 am
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Old Dec 19, 18, 6:42 am
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I want to be very clear that my point was a practical one, e.g. that if one fails to declare food, even if it is not restricted in any way, that there are not likely to be significant consequences. But, this is not something to play around with, particularly for individuals who have had other immigration or customs issues in the past,

1. Making a false declaration is a felony.
2. Making a false declaration may result in administrative or civil penalties of as much as $11,000.
3. Addition to various watch lists which may complicate ESTA and visa issuance for non-USN's.
4. Make future entry a lengthy and frustrating process.
5. Revocation of GE (or other TTP) or inability to obtain down the road.

These are in reverse order of likelihood. E.g., federal prison is extremely unlikely. Losing GE is very likely.
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Old Dec 19, 18, 9:34 am
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Originally Posted by der_saeufer View Post
As the name implies, the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements database only covers fruits and vegetables, not seeds, grains, cut flowers, lumber, Christmas trees, live plants, etc etc.

Other manuals are here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/our...tronic-manuals

Lentils for eating would be covered in the Seeds not for Planting manual. In non-commercial quantities, they're subject to inspection (like everything else) but not otherwise restricted. If the bag was nothing but lentils and wasn't infested with insects, s/he should've been able to keep them. (see p. 3-34)
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Old Dec 19, 18, 5:19 pm
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so if i just declare i'm bringing in food, is that enough? When the agent right at the scanner asks me what food, i may not remember everything at the top of my head
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Old Dec 21, 18, 4:05 pm
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Originally Posted by sam007 View Post
so if i just declare i'm bringing in food, is that enough? When the agent right at the scanner asks me what food, i may not remember everything at the top of my head
Which is why they advise you to complete the customs declaration form while you're on your flight and not try to "wing it" at the checkpoint.

Also, it more than likely has been noted in your immigration record electronically.
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Old Dec 27, 18, 6:17 am
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Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post
Which is why they advise you to complete the customs declaration form while you're on your flight and not try to "wing it" at the checkpoint.

Also, it more than likely has been noted in your immigration record electronically.
- Most of the time now, one will be using the automated kiosks and not even filling out a paper form while inflight. Even then, you may not remember. If you have more than a couple of types of food or other declarable items - or more than whatever amount you're likely to recall from memory, it's a good idea to make a list as you're packing.

- Based on what was described in comparison to similar situations, it's not terribly likely anything was noted in the OP's record IMHO. However no one here can give the OP a 100% certain answer either way.
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Old Dec 27, 18, 7:04 am
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This. A dwindling percentage of passengers will complete a paper Declaration. But, not just as to food, but as to alcohol and items you purchase, just keep a running list. If asked, it is much easier to present that then to have to try to recall.
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