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I'm due to visit Canada to see an old friend who used to live in the UK. He wants me to take a favourite snack (Pot Noodle (really!)) for him.

Is this likely to be a problem taking it through customs and would I need to declare it?

I know there are restrictions on imports of foods, but everything I've read relates to risk of disease or pests, which I don't really see applying to a dried noodle snack!

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My suggestion would be to take the Pot Noodle and declare it, and if the customs officer objects, be prepared to dump it. I doubt they will. –  DJClayworth Mar 17 '12 at 19:10
    
The fact that it is dried is not going to be relevant, btw. When the mad cow worries resulted in the US not allowing beef (even a roast beef sandwich you intended to eat or were in the middle of eating) across the border, a friend had homemade beef jerky confiscated. –  Kate Gregory Mar 18 '12 at 17:54
    
They don't sell Pot Noodle in Canada?! –  Ankur Banerjee Mar 18 '12 at 21:48
    
They sell similar stuff, but not actual Pot Noodle. Though I've seen it in specialist "British" stores. –  DJClayworth Mar 19 '12 at 13:43
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The answer as to what is allowed or not allowed into a country varies depending on the specific item, the country, and sometimes even the specific port/airport you're entering through.

The most important thing to remember is that you should always DECLARE what you are bringing in. Almost every country has a question on the entry/customs form regarding food, and generally "food" is defined as anything that you can eat - even things like snacks/candy bars/teas/herbs/etc - and specifically things like Pot Noodle!

As long as you declare it, and as long as it's not something outright illegal (eg, drugs) then the worst that can happen is that they can confiscate it if it's something that is not allowed through that point of entry. You will not be fined/arrested/denied entry/etc if you've declared it, but you could be if you do not declare it.

Specifically for Pot Noodles, I suspect you'll be fine as long as they don't contain meat. The Canadian Government's "Be Aware and Declare" website has a list of allowed food products and the only restrictions that seem to be relevant are "no goods containing meat" and no milk or milk products ("dried, frozen, reconsituted, or fresh") . I'd be fairly sure Pot Noodles wouldn't contain either of those, and even if they did I doubt it would be in sufficient quantities for them to be rejected.

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I think both of those apply only to baked goods. –  DJClayworth Mar 17 '12 at 19:09
    
"the worst that can happen is that they can confiscate it if it's something that is not allowed through that point of entry. You will not be fined/arrested/denied entry/etc if you've declared it" - this is reassuring - thanks –  Durathor Mar 18 '12 at 21:38
    
Also, in my experience the customs / agriculture folk tend to be fairly indifferent when they realize the only reason you are talking to them is because you were overly literal in your reading of the form. An attitude of "Are you sure that's all you have? Ok, whatever, go ahead." –  smackfu Mar 20 '12 at 14:03
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This is the form we all fill out when entering Canada: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/forms-formulaires/e311-eng.pdf

Here's a closeup of the food-related question:

enter image description here

That says:

Meat/meat products; dairy products; fruits; vegetables; seeds; nuts; plants and animals or their parts/products; cut flowers; soil; wood/wood products; birds; insects.

I've argued before that taken too literally this would require you to declare paper, wooden pencils and so on. I think, though, that noodles are going to be ok. There are phone numbers on the CBSA page that might help you if you need more confidence.

Also, just because you say yes doesn't mean anything bad will happen. When I came back from a Caribbean visit I had a conch shell. I had checked online and you're allowed one as long as you were the one who pulled it from the ocean. Since my husband had indeed done so (and I had a picture of that) I brought it back and declared it, and said yes to the animal parts question. The officer asked "what food?" in that bored customs-officer voice and I said "we have some seashells from the beach and a conch shell." He wrote SEASHELLS OK on my form next to that question and off we went.

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I have to admit reading the 3rd bullet there, I don't immediately take that to include processed food like Pot Noodle and would head down the nothing to declare route. Better safe than sorry though I guess. –  Durathor Mar 20 '12 at 16:15
    
Saying no to those questions and "nothing to declare" are different. We don't have the "two doors" thing I see in Europe. –  Kate Gregory Mar 20 '12 at 17:01
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