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A few years back I was on a trip with a family member who brought back a meat product to Canada. I told them to declare it, so they did. It got confiscated entering at the Canadian border as a prohibited item. The agent sent it out to be destroyed. We didn't get fined or anything.

Am I on the Canadian books? Do I have a record they see every time at the border? Or is it fine because we declared it?

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    Entering Canada at the Canadian border? Or the US? I doubt it makes a difference but you should specify. – David Richerby Feb 19 '18 at 8:08
  • Sorry, I was entering Canada. – Curious Traveller Feb 19 '18 at 13:39
  • I remember bringing back some home grown onion. That got confiscated and destroyed too. Its sad really. They have dogs to sniff out food items so always declare. – The Last Word Feb 19 '18 at 16:20
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    If you declare, you won't have any trouble even if something is confiscated. You will only have a problem if you fail to declare something you should have done. – Michael Hampton Feb 20 '18 at 5:00
  • I entered Canada with nunchucks one time, declared them at the border, and was informed they were prohibited weapons in Canada. Instead of black listing me as a weapons trafficker, they just took my two sticks attached by a chain and had them "destroyed". – ShemSeger Feb 26 '18 at 22:36
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Nothing. You're good. You did the right thing by declaring food items. That was it. There will be no future impact.


Entering Canada:

Be sure . . . declare everything.

Canadian law requires that you declare all food, plants and animals and related products that you bring into Canada. Failure to declare could lead to

  • confiscation of products
  • fines of up to $1300 per undeclared item
  • prosecution

...

Penalty-free confiscation

When undeclared restricted or prohibited items are found in checked luggage or carry-on bags, the penalties can be severe.

There are alternatives, however, if you find yourself in possession of restricted or prohibited goods. Many Canadian airports have disposal bins for prohibited products. You can dispose of these products before meeting with a border officer.

If you are unsure about an item, ask a border officer. If you seek clarification and then declare a restricted or prohibited item, it may be confiscated without penalty.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency


Entering USA:

Failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties. Even if you believe a food item is able to enter the United States you must declare to the officer that you are bringing food back. When in doubt keep it out.

CBP

Bringing Food into the U.S.

Declared agriculture items, in non-commercial quantities, that are found to be prohibited or restricted by the CBP Agriculture Specialists can be abandoned at the port of entry should the traveler wish to continue into the U.S. However, undeclared prohibited agriculture items will be confiscated and can result in the issuance of a civil penalty to the traveler for failure to declare the prohibited item. All agricultural items that are abandoned or confiscated at ports of entry are destroyed in accordance with USDA approved destruction methods to prevent spread of pests and diseases.

CBP

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    Indeed. The whole point of declaring it is so they can determine if it is allowable or not. – fabspro Feb 19 '18 at 8:19
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    I can confirm from personal experience that this is correct. It seems correct in the Canada-to-USA direction as well; I brought the remainder of a bag of Mexican grapes into the US, declared them, had them taken away, but was bidden a good day without issue. They view declaring food and animal products as a desirable act - they want you to ask so that prohibited materials can be excluded from the country. I would guess they would view such travelers very positively, not negatively. – Jim MacKenzie Feb 19 '18 at 16:41
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    I've never left the country as an adult, but everything I've read about hassles with international travel makes me more and more convinced that when I do leave the country for vacation, I should just ship any souvenirs via UPS or something rather than trying to take them back in my luggage. – Shufflepants Feb 19 '18 at 22:22
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    @Shufflepants Stuff you ship via UPS will still go through customs. I haven't sent things internationally but I expect they require you to describe the items being shipped, and they will destroy them if they find them to be prohibited based on the description, and they will fine you if they randomly check and find the description to be false. That would be exactly the same as taking them with you. – user29850 Feb 20 '18 at 2:08
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    @Shufflepants These hassles appear difficult from a distance. When you go through them they don't create any hardships for a traveler. All you need to ensure is to carry only the things that you're allowed to carry. And if you're supposed to declare do declare – Hanky Panky Feb 20 '18 at 3:30
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This is also my experience in Canada. They just take it and that is it. You would not be in their books unless you got fined should you have failed to declare.

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