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I'm travelling from the UK to Canada and I want to take my running shoes, but they are rather muddy.

Is it a problem to take muddy running shoes in my baggage from the UK to Canada? Will I have a problem at customs?

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According to the Canada Border Services Agency:

Many different kinds of items can introduce foreign threats into Canada. These include things as diverse as:

  • Food, such as raw or cooked meats, fruit/vegetables, milk;
  • Homemade articles, such as items made from plants or wood;
  • Houseplants;
  • Live animals, including pets;
  • Firewood;
  • Plant cuttings, seeds; and
  • Muddy hiking boots.

...

Be sure to clean all soil and organic debris off of any items including hiking boots, vehicles, boats and gardening and construction tools/equipment.

They might throw them away if there is enough mud on them to cause the agent to be concerned. To be safe, just wash your shoes before you pack them.

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    I'm genuinely curious as to why you would even entertain this notion in the first place, though. Why would you not simply wash your stuff before packing it for a trans-Atlantic voyage? Why would you take grubby, muddy items of clothing as-is? Yuk. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 15 '17 at 20:12
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    @BoundaryImposition -- I'm not the OP, but my travels have led me into strange circumstances, where time or space constraints kept me from doing the "simple", convenient things. – Malvolio Apr 16 '17 at 3:12
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    @Malvolio: but those constraints usually come up at the last minute, when there isn't time to post a question here. – Ross Millikan Apr 16 '17 at 4:59
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    @BoundaryImposition: on the outward trip of a holiday, sure, I’d always wash things before leaving. But before the return flight? Time is at a premium, facilities may be unpredictable and sub-optimal — I often pack clothes/shoes dirty and wash them at home. – PLL Apr 16 '17 at 7:44
  • I mostly wear my hiking boots on the flights, as they are so big to pack. And some days you walk through mud on the way to the airport and boot cleaning facilities are not always easy to find on strange airports. – Willeke Apr 16 '17 at 10:32
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It might depend on the year. Some years ago when there was a foot-and-mouth pandemic in the UK, they were stricter on entering Canada than they are usually (including a mat for everyone to walk on).

Once (maybe a different year) I entered with muddy hiking boots. They immersed the boots in something for me (formaldehyde perhaps) and gave them back to me in a sealed plastic bag ... I expect they would have been within their rights to confiscate and destroy them, though. Since then, obviously, I scrape and rinse any mud off them before flying.

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