We're traveling to the UK next week, and would like to take some lavender wands with us (lavender, dried, then woven with straw to make a nice smelling block). Does anyone know if UK Customs will have a problem with us bringing them in? Or of US Customs will have a problem with us bringing them back?

Just to be clear, we want to take them to the UK with us, then bring them back with us to the US.

  • 2
    Just to clarify: Do you want to bring them from the US to the UK, from the UK to the US or both? – drat Aug 28 '15 at 4:33
  • 1
    Sounds like they just want to keep them on them, for the duration of the trip? – Mark Mayo Aug 28 '15 at 5:01
  • @drat yes I'm agreeing with you, it's unclear as to what they mean - that's why mine was worded a bit like a question too :) – Mark Mayo Aug 28 '15 at 5:53
  • Both. Take them out and back – Greg Dougherty Aug 28 '15 at 22:08
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This answer only deals with the US part.

USDA regulations on Cut Flowers specifically exempts dried flowers:

7 CFR 319.74 Subpart—Cut Flowers provides the following: restricts or prohibits importing fresh, cut flowers, but exempts dried, bleached, dyed, or chemically treated decorative plant materials from the definition of cut flowers

Source: USDA Cut Flowers and Greenery Import Manual

Dried plants are sometimes subject to restrictions, but only if they are listed explicitly:

If a name is not listed in the reference table or the Index, that article is most likely merely subject to inspection—that is, release it without a permit it if is free from plant pests.

Source: USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Import Manual

Lavender is not listed, so I think it's safe to assume that there are no restrictions on what you can bring back into the US with respect to agricultural regulations.

As with all of these things, it's always best to declare it though.

  • Talked with Customs, who sent me to Dept of Ag, who told me that anything processed is just fine to bring in. – Greg Dougherty Sep 12 '15 at 15:23

As you are bringing agricultural products into the US, they will need to be inspected by the USDA staff at the airport you arrive back at. If there is no USDA staff on hand then the CPB officials may do an inspection on their own or more likely simply confiscate the items for destruction.

I have no firsthand experience with UK import rules on dried flowers and straw, but would imagine they are equally strict on importing agricultural products.

  • Fresh flowers would be a problem, but according to Dept of Ag, bringing in plants that have already been processed s just fine. – Greg Dougherty Sep 12 '15 at 15:24

It looks like you can probably bring 1 wand per person in to the UK. The rules are disccused broadly on gov.uk here, with the specific restrictions documented in PLANT HEALTH CONTROLS ON PERSONAL IMPORTS OF PLANTS AND PLANT PRODUCE AND PRODUCTS, which says:

From all other non-EU countries

  • 2kg of fruit and vegetables, and
  • cut flowers and any parts of plants together forming a single bouquet (maximum of 50 stems), and
  • five retail packets of seeds (but not seeds of potatoes).

There is a warning that certain plants are further restricted, but as lavender is grown in the UK, I would not expect it to be subject to such restrictions.

With regards to returning the lavender to the US, this however looks like a complete no go. According to the US CBP:

Travelers can check the general admissibility of fruits and vegetables by consulting APHIS' Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR) database at www.aphis.usda.gov Select the type of fruit or vegetable in the "Approved Name:" field, then select the country of origin in the "Country/Region:" field.

You will receive one of the following results:

  • 0 entries found means the fruit or vegetable is NOT allowed into the United States

  • x entry(ies) found [followed by the name of the commodity and the name of the country]. Click on "CIR".

    • If the import requirements indicate: 1 Subject to Inspection : This commodity is subject to inspection at the port of entry and all general requirements of 7 CFR 319.56-3. The fruit or vegetable is allowed into the United States pending inspection.

    • If the import requirements indicate: Condition of entry treatment then the fruit or vegetable is NOT allowed into the United States in passenger baggage.

Lavender is not on the list at https://epermits.aphis.usda.gov/manual/index.cfm.

Note all of these rules seem to be imagining live plants - I couldn't find any clarification for either end with regards to dried.

Practically, lavender is available in the UK if you really want it there, and it's probably not worth the fuss. (Equally, it seems unlikley that either end will be tearing apart your bags because of a suspicous floral scent, but it's normally best not to lie/dodge customs because of all the trouble you get into if/when they do pull you up).

  • It's a strong goal not to get crosswise with Customs :-) – Greg Dougherty Aug 28 '15 at 22:09
  • Then truthfully, why even consider doing it? – CGCampbell Aug 28 '15 at 22:18

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