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.

  • Question was how likely I get unpleasant situation at the border related to human factor. If it is possible Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:49
  • What kind of cheese?
    – Karlson
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 19:45
  • @Karlson: In the Netherlands, "old" is a designation for cheeses that have ripened at least 10 months. That means in practice it's a Gouda type as other types don't age that well. The topic starter lives in Amsterdam, so he may also encounter Beemster which is a Gouda type but from the Beemster region, not the Gouda region.
    – MSalters
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 21:08
  • Thank you guys for the comments and answers. I appreciate community help. I think @MSalters(s) answer is closer and I will probably accept it. But @Karlson(s) answer is more generic and could help other people to make a decision Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 8:11

5 Answers 5


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.


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.

  • 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
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 21:00
  • 1
    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
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 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. Commented Aug 7, 2014 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
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 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. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 12:24

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.


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.


I just came back from Amsterdam with a small block (about a pound) of local cheese that I bought in Haarlem. The shop vacuum sealed it for me and put it in a bag with the receipt. It went in my carry-on.

  • No problem at Schipol *
  • I declared that I had food at US customs. They asked me what it was then sent me through. No problem.
  • Then I had to go back through TSA security because I was transferring to a domestic flight. Still no problem.

Note: At Schipol I was so concerned they might take away my cheese that I forgot to remove a can of shaving cream from my bag. That landed me in the bag search line. So remember to remove all fluids.

I strongly recommend declaring it at customs. It took an extra 10 seconds for them to ask me what kind of food I had. Best to just be honest upfront and avoid a possible fine.

  • For what it's worth I got extra attention from TSA in the US because of a small brick of vacuum-sealed cheese. Minor inconvenience only- they just wanted to verify what it was. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 17:09

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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 23:28
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 21:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .