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My friend is going to NYC for a week. Currently in South Korea, we want to share the lovely NYC/NJ bagel. Assuming my friend packs the bagel in a airtight container to keep freshness, what is the rule about international food? Can she bring the bagel back to Korea? If so, how many? Is it better to bring as a carry on or in her check-in luggage?

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2 Answers 2

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According to the Korea Customs Service website, prepared food for personal consumption is not included in the items that must be declared at customs upon arrival, provided that the total value of all items you are bringing in (and will not take back out with you) does not exceed the duty-free allowance of 400 USD.

There are special weight/value restrictions on liquor, cigarettes, perfume, and agricultural/livestock/aquatic products (including medicinal herbs), but bagels are none of these things.

If you do get called aside for a hand inspection, simply explain to the official that they are pieces of bread you are bringing as a gift, and that should be the end of it.

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It took a lot of research, but according to TSA policies, Solids food can be brought on a plane:

Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked baggage. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not permitted in carry-on baggage and should be placed in your checked baggage if possible

In case you still aren't following, your friend can bring a bagel as long as it's in your carry-on or checked baggage. If the bagel happens to trigger an alarm of some sort, then your friend may not be able to bring it on the plane.

Aditional Notes:

If you don't know what TSA is, it is an abbreviation for Transportation Security Administration. These people are basically the airport security, and the ones who make the rules on what you can and can't bring on a plane.

Need help on what you can and can't bring? Go to:

Prohibited Items | Transport Security Administration

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Will the South Koreans allow it into the country though? Or would their food/plant/etc security rules prevent it? –  Gagravarr Mar 19 at 14:40
    
Yes, South Koreans should allow it into the country though. I would be careful though. Tell your friend not to make too much of a big deal out of it and she should be fine. Also, tell your friend to bring it as carry-on just to be safe –  Jørgen Jon Mar 19 at 14:54
    
This is irrelevant: TSA controls what is accepted by airport security when you board a flight in the US. It's perfectly legal to travel with liquid, what isn't legal is to bring it with you from outside the airport. If you buy a bottle airside, or fill one at a water fountain, it's ok. If you land with one, it's ok. What matters here is whether South Korea will let it in: some countries ban food imports. –  Gilles Mar 20 at 22:39
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