This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Whether you’re filling out a familiar blue customs declaration form or tapping the screen of an Automated Passport Control or Global Entry kiosk, you’re going to have to answer Question 11, Part A.

Are you bringing fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, food or insects into the United States?

Admit it. Even as a frequent flier, you’ve paused here to consider the in-flight peanuts stowed in your purse or the loose orange you snagged at the airport lounge. After all, it’s not always obvious whether or not these items need to be declared.

“With food and agriculture products, the best advice to travelers is to always declare it,” a US Customs and Border Protection public affairs officer told The Points Guy.

“While many [items] may be permissible, it’s best to declare them to avoid possible fines and penalties if they are deemed prohibited.”

A firm statement on the US Customs and Border Protection website warns passengers that “all food products” must be declared, and that failure to do so “can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties.”

The short answer, therefore, is that you should always check “yes” if there’s anything edible in your suitcase.

But not all foods are equally concerning in the eyes of CBP agents. Generally speaking, processed items (including crackers, candy and even roasted coffee beans) are admissible.

Don’t worry about prepared foods.

Because restrictions are in place to avoid causing injury or harm (CBP cites the example of a single piece of contaminated produce that caused a Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in the 1980s) it’s mostly raw fruits, vegetables, meats, seeds and nuts that raise a red flag for US Customs and Border Protection agents.

To that point, once a fruit has been dried, it’s typically permissible — as are nuts that have been boiled, cooked, ground, oven-dried, roasted, pureed or steamed.

Chocolate bars, granola bars and souvenir jars of Vegemite or Marmite are also generally fine.

Though it’s best to avoid traveling with particularly pungent cheeses as a courtesy to your fellow travelers, many can be brought into the United States.

Among those cheeses that have general pre-approval are Brie, Camembert and Buffalo Mozzarella. (It’s not included on the list, but we’re inclined to think a CBP agent would let you cross the border with a stack of Kraft American Singles, too.)

But absolutely declare that piece of fruit.

Yes, even one you got on a plane or picked up at the airport prior to departure. Eat it, toss it, or declare it to Customs and Border Protection.

According to the CBP website, failing to declare agricultural items (and again, the seemingly harmless saran-wrapped airport apple does count) can result in a $300 first-time fine. And if you’re a repeat offender, expect to pay $500 or more.

Failing to properly declare items is one way to lose your Global Entry membership, meaning if you have even a shadow of a doubt about a food item in your suitcase, it’s best to be overly-cautious.

It never hurts to declare something at customs, but there are a few foods that probably won’t make it out of the airport with you. Among them? Products containing raw eggs and most meats, even if they’ve been cooked, canned, cured or dried.

Bad news for that exotic jerky and raw trail mix in your backpack.

Featured image by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.