Enticed by the cheap prices of fruit, I tried to take some back with me to the US from the Dominican Republic. I declared it. Sure enough I was sent straight to the Agriculture line.
- my two Guanabana were thrown out immediately on sight
- my dozen or so guava into the trash as well
- cinnamon posed no difficulty whatsoever
- sugar cane there was a question of how it was packaged; passed
- packaged supermarket coffee (from outside) no question
For reference my entry point was San Juan, Puerto Rico which receives a few international flights and I was arriving from Dominican Republic.
Specific rules from CBP looked rather complicated but I did find Travelers bringing food into the U.S. for personal use. While raw fruit is obviously out of bounds, there was this passage:
Coffee - roasted or unroasted if there is no pulp attached. (USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Manual, Table 3-48)
Spices most dried spices are allowed except for orange, lemon, lime and other citrus leaves and seeds, lemongrass, and many vegetable and fruit seeds
Fruits and Vegetables Travelers may check the general admissibility of fruits and vegetables by consulting APHIS's FAVIR database.... Every fruit or vegetable must be declared to a CBP Agriculture Specialist or CBP Officer and must be presented for inspection - regardless of its admissibility status. Fresh fruits and vegetables need to be clean and may be prohibited if they have insects or diseases.
Doesn't my fruit get inspected then? Why was my fruit just thrown out?
Maybe because I do not have a permit? My guess is individuals can't get permits unless they are like grocery store owners or something. My supermarket routinely has avocado from the Dominican Republic. However... this is personal use not resale
My hope was that since I was traveling between two Caribbean countries, there would be no problem exchanging fruit. Since the islands were so similar. Additionally, there is USDA inspection for travel outside of Puerto Rico. So I don't see what the issue is.
Canned goods and goods in vacuum packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products) for your personal use
Is vacuum packing it myself OK?
Sorry for this lengthy discussion. I just found it very interesting could by a large size guanabana for $10 in Puerto Rico and for $1 in Dominican Republic. These seem to be unavailable in the United States.
REMARK Fresh fruit seems to require a permit and follow the special packing procedures. What about canning or vacuum packing for personal use?