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We are going to visit our relatives in the US. I'm thinking of getting sweets, cookies and old Dutch cheese as small presents, but I'm not really sure about cheese.

I found this that says it is possible. However, all my friends suggested to not take cheese with me.

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(a) do they give any reason why not to and (b) what more definitive an answer are you looking for than in the link you posted? –  pnuts Aug 5 at 17:43
Question was how likely I get unpleasant situation at the border related to human factor. If it is possible –  Eugen Martynov Aug 5 at 17:49
Border guards are officials - anything is possible! But if you take a printout of the link you posted and waive it at them I'd expect you to be fine. I know one country where cheese imports are 'banned' but where from a country known to pasteurise its cheeses a 'blind eye' was turned. Presumably you are thinking of hard cheeses. –  pnuts Aug 5 at 17:53
What kind of cheese? –  Karlson Aug 5 at 19:45
@Karlson Pretty much all Dutch cheeses are hard or semi-hard and made from pasteurised milk (the exceptions like Boerenkaas can be difficult to source). –  pnuts Aug 5 at 19:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Your source is confirmed by the US embassy in the Netherlands : "Voedsel dat men kan meenemen naar de V.S : ... Kaas (alleen vacuum verpakt en gepasteuriseerd; geen kazen gemaakt van rauwe melk). De meeste Nederlandse kazen zoals Goudse, Edammer en Leerdammer zijn toegestaan.".

Translation: "Foods that one can take to the US: ... Cheese (only vacuum sealed, no raw milk cheeses). Most Dutch cheeses such as Gouda, Edammer and Leerdammer are allowed".

The most relevant restriction would be "vacuum sealed". An Edammer cheese is small enough to be sold whole, and would be unlikely to be vacuum sealed. Gouda on the other hand is typically produced as a large wheel, and a wedge is often vacuum sealed.

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It's not truly an old cheese (per Dutch consumer law), but Old Amsterdam is a common and widely available brand which may therefore be known to US customs. Apparently they do consider packaging and see commercial mass-market packaging as less suspect. –  MSalters Aug 5 at 21:00
Large producers often have special product lines for export, usually sold in tourist shops (smaller sizes, thick wax sealing, thick vacuum sealed plastic bag, cute picture of milk maid in traditional cloths, things like that). –  jwenting Aug 6 at 7:22
In Delft on the farmer's market, there is at least one shop which can put any cheese you buy there in a vacuum seal. It's a lot cheaper than the tourist shops. I guess that in every Dutch farmer's market this should be possible. –  traindriver Aug 7 at 10:41
@traindriver: Not sure which market that would be (there's no real farmer's market) Do you mean the regular saturday market in the city centre? That one obviously caters to tourists, as Delft attracts many tourists. I wouldn't expect the Eindhoven market to offer the same. Then again, OP is from Amsterdam. –  MSalters Aug 7 at 10:49
I mean the market on saturdays at Brabantse Turfmarkt. But a vacuum machine for a market stall is really not thath special, I have seen it in markets in Germany and Switzerland as well. –  traindriver Aug 7 at 12:24

There is a whole bunch of news articles w.r.t the cheese issue:

and the list goes on.

At issue is the cheese made from Raw/Unpasteurized Milk which is currently considered to pose a potential health risk based on the FDA/Health Canada Report and another one so the concern is that if the cheese is made from an unpasteurised milk it may not be allowed into the country even though the regulations (see tables 3-14-6, 3-14-7) don't say anything about the hard cheeses to be disallowed.

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Do you have an evidence for "unless your cheese is labeled as made from pasteurized milk you may not be allowed to bring it into the country" (in the context of "entering the United States in passenger baggage for personal use.")? –  pnuts Aug 5 at 19:09

My mom brings cheese back from France frequently. She declares it and tells them what it is if they ask. Vacuum sealing hasn't come up in the past. I don't think cheese from Holland will be handled any differently than cheese from France. The customs people are mainly concerned about non-aged unpasteurized whole milk cheese (eg. Camembert).

Her cheese purchases have been noticed a few times by the sniffer dogs. I call them cheese beagles. :-) The handler will ask to see the cheese, but won't take legal ones.

A cheese shop in a big city may be able to vacuum seal purchases for you.

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Thank you for answer! –  Eugen Martynov Aug 7 at 11:40

If you take it along with you declare it as dairy, that way worst case scenario they will just take it away from you. If you don't declare it they might charge you a $800 US fine for bringing a dairy product into the country and not declaring it.

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Well, there is no "dairy" category on the customs declaration. Cheese falls under "food," and the link in the original post has separate indications for cheese and cultured milk products and for liquid milk and liquid milk products. –  choster Aug 5 at 23:28
@choster Thanks for the clarification, it's been a while since I traveled to the USA, I'm more used to Canada and Jamaican custom forms. But the point is to declare it that way you won't get in trouble bringing it across. –  Kmeixner Aug 6 at 21:56

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