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Christmas holiday in the USA with ESTA

The holiday season is approaching: find out which food products you can take to the USA to share a typical Christmas dinner with your close ones.

Once you have your ESTA authorisation and plane ticket in your pocket, all that’s left is to pack your bags and head to the States to have an unforgettable Christmas period.

Looking forward to Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and Christmas pudding? Before you prepare your taste buds, find out how to pack your bags, because, aside from your airline’s luggage restrictions, there are also certain restricted food goods once you get to the USA.

Just like everywhere, there are strict regulations in the USA when introducing foodstuffs into the country. Generally, fruit and vegetables, meats, lactose products and other agricultural products are subject to restrictions to protect the health of the community, preserve the environment and to prevent diseases being spread into the USA.

First of all, you need to know that, when you arrive in the USA, you must declare all foodstuffs that you are carrying to customs, even if it is permitted. The fine for not declaring these can reach $10,000…

The list of prohibited items varies according to the product’s country of origin, if an illness appears in a certain region, that can provoke sudden bans on particular products: remember the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima, for example. If you are leaving the UK and want to travel safe, bear in mind the products that you are allowed to take the USA:

  • Hard, ripened cheese
  • Beef, poultry or pork in jars/cans
  • Meat-free condiments and sauces
  • Olive oil and other oils
  • Sweets and chocolates
  • Processed pastries and bread products

And take anything out of your suitcase that you’re not allowed to take to the US, such as cured meats, soft cheeses, cream cheeses and fresh truffles…

Of course, after ketchup and mayo there’s nothing left to give to your other close ones, so opt for deserts and take plenty of sweets and chocolates! If any relatives out there are feeling nostalgic, Marmite is perfectly allowed in the USA, but you may have more problems getting it past airport security!

IMPORTANT: With regards to alcohol (including wine), each person is limited to one litre, and only people aged 21 and over may carry them through customs.

If you are going through Mexico or Canada before you get to the USA, you must present your ESTA authorisation to border agents and abide by the regulations of foodstuffs that apply to those countries.

You can consult the US Customs and Border Control website for more information on this topic.

Bon voyage, and more appropriately, bon appétit! 

Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.