The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We provide information to buyers looking for U.S. agricultural genetics, bulk and processed commodities, food, and beverage products. We also gather market information and offer market briefs to help U.S. firms better understand the local market. FAS offers some capacity building and other agricultural technical assistance programs, as well as provides technical expertise in international agricultural policy and trade discussions (i.e. food security, sustainability and climate change).
FAS can help you find U.S. agricultural product suppliers and register your company as a foreign buyer of U.S. products.
FAS has information on foreign import requirements for the following U.S. products.
Meat, Poultry and Eggs
Prior import approvals are required for live animals and non–heat treated animal products. The State Veterinary Office’s Department for Food Safety and Conditions in Facilities provides final approvals. Export facilities need to register with the State Veterinary Office the first time they export to BiH.
Live Animals and Veterinary Drugs
Live animals are subject to the ordinance on quarantine requirements for imported animals issued by the State Veterinary Office. For ruminants, the required quarantine is 30 days, for poultry and pets 21 days, for semen and inseminated egg cells 14 days.
Veterinary drugs must be on the approved list maintained by the State Veterinary Office.
Seeds and Pesticides
For seeds, planting materials and pesticides the Entity agricultural ministries provide prior approvals. Seeds and pesticides forms for the Federation are available at the Federation Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, and seeds and pesticides forms for the Republika Srpska are available at the Republika Srpska Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management sites. Seeds can be imported only if the varieties are recognized in the country. The National List of Recognized Varieties is maintained by the Plant Health Protection Administration.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Products are subject to specific taxation rules and require an import license issued by the Indirect Tax Administration (ITA). The ITA issues control excise stamps, which must be included on the packaging prior to export to BiH.
Sending store bought foods (i.e. chocolates, candies, canned goods, etc.) as gifts to the United States.
If you are a private individual who wishes to send beverage and food items to the U.S., you should be aware that some items are highly restricted, particularly food items with meat products, including soup mixes, bullion, sausages, tinned meats, etc., and fresh produce. As a general rule, candies, condiments, spices, coffee and teas that are commercially packaged are ok, however bulk teas or spices, etc. are subject to inspection and if they are found to have insects, they may be seized and destroyed.
Food that is sent to an individual in the U.S. for personal use (i.e. not for resale) by a business is subject to special requirements of the Food and Drug Administration.
Businesses that send goods to the U.S. must file prior notice. (please refer to Prior Notice of Imported Foods). A prior notice may be filed on-line if the goods are being sent through the postal service. (Foods sent from an individual to an individual for personal use or as a bona fide gift are not subject to the Prior Notice requirement). When filing prior notice, you will be asked to provide the following:
What about taking food with me to the United States?
U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict regulations concerning the importation into the United States of food and agricultural products. Imported foods are also subject to FDA requirements and may be seized upon inspection if, in the opinion of the FDA, they pose a health risk of any kind. Please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for additional information.
If you are not sure, if you can bring a certain product, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture will be able to assist you.
In general many fruits and vegetables are either prohibited from entering the United States or require an import permit (for commercial importers) or a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin. Every fruit or vegetable must be declared to a Customs Border Patrol Officer and must be presented for inspection – no matter how free of pests it appears to be. Failure to declare food products can result in a $10,000 fine.
Meats, livestock, poultry, and their products are either prohibited or restricted from entering the United States, depending on the animal disease condition in the country of origin. Fresh meat is generally prohibited from most countries. Canned, cured, or dried meat is severely restricted from some countries.
Bakery items, candy, chocolate, and cured cheese are generally admissible. Canned goods and goods in vacuum packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products) are also generally admissible if being imported for personal use.
Dairy items such as milk, yogurt, butter are generally admissible, although this is subject to change, depending on disease outbreaks. Eggs may be admissible, although frequent outbreaks of Exotic Newcastles Disease and avian flu make it very likely that they will be denied entry. Hard cured cheese such as parmesan or cheddar are generally admissible, soft cheeses such as brie and soft curd cheese and cheese in water(ricotta, feta, etc.) are not.
Fish, if it is for your personal use, is generally admissible.
Condiments such as oil, vinegar, mustard, catsup, pickles, syrup, honey, jelly, jam, etc., are generally admissible.
Other then the above general guidelines, it is impossible to advise you in this forum about the admissibility of specific food items because it is so susceptible to change. Disease and pest outbreaks, which impact the admissibility status of fresh and packaged food items, occur all over the world at a moments notice.
Failure to declare all food products can result in civil penalties.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes criteria for the admissibility of plant, dairy and meat products returning with travelers and they have the final say about what may be admitted into the U.S. Please refer to the USDA website for more information.
Can I bring alcohol back to the United States for my personal use or as a gift?
Generally, one liter per person may be entered into the U.S. duty-free by travelers who are 21 or older. Additional quantities may be entered, although they will be subject to duty and IRS taxes.
Duty is generally 3% of value and the IRS excise tax is generally between 21 – 31 cents per 750 ml bottle of wine, 67 cents/champagne, and $2.14/ hard liquor.
It is illegal for travelers under the age of 21 to import alcohol – even as a gift.
The total amount of alcohol you may enter the country with is primarily determined by the laws of the state where you will arrive back into the U.S. Each State sets the amount of alcohol a person may bring in without a license or permit from that state. Travelers must check with the individual States.
There is no federal limit on the amount of alcohol a traveler may import into the U.S. for personal use, however, large quantities might raise the suspicion that the importation is for commercial purposes.
Alcoholic beverages purchased in duty free shops are subject to duty when you bring them with you into the United States – Shopping Abroad: Duty Free, Gifts, Household Items.
You are not permitted to ship alcoholic beverages by mail to the United States per U.S. postal laws.
How do I import food to the United States (canned goods, meat, fruit, vegetables, bulk foods etc.) for resale?
If you are interested in importing food for commercial purposes, you may want to consult with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import specialist at the U.S. port of entry through which you intend to import. The import specialist can let you know what is required, which varies depending on the type of food, the country of origin of the food, as well as whether or not there are quota or other restrictions on what you want to import.
As an importer, you have the option of hiring a Customs house broker to file your entry with CBP, or you can do it yourself – although there are so many details to handle when importing food items, we strongly advise using a broker. For more information on brokers, please refer to Custom Brokers on U.S. Customs And Border Protection.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines the admissibility of food being imported into the United States and CBP enforces those laws. All commercial imports of food and beverage products require the filing of Prior Notice (please see above) with FDA, and foreign manufacturers and/or distributers of food products must register with the FDA before their goods may be admitted.
(These requirements DO NOT apply to food accompanying a traveler into the U.S. or being sent by an individual – not a business – for personal use.)
CBP will not release food shipments without proof that prior notice has been filed with FDA. Therefore, it is imperative that the PN satisfied number is submitted to CBP along with the entry documents. The PN satisfied number should be annotated on the shipping documents (i.e. bill of lading or airway bill).
For additional information on the Bio-Terrorism Preparedness and Response Act regulations and assistance with filing prior notice, please contact the Food and Drug Administration 1-800-216-7331, if outside the U.S. call (301) 575-0156.
In addition to the prior notice requirement, once the goods arrive in the U.S., FDA may collect a sample or tell Customs Border Patrol to proceed with releasing the shipment. If a sample is in violation of FDA regulations, you will receive a Notice of Detention from FDA. To find out the status of food that has been detained by FDA, call the number referenced on the detention notice.
If the product you wish to import is a plant or farm animal product, you should consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To inquire about the admissibility of meats, livestock, poultry and their products intended for resale, contact the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Import Division, http://www.aphis.usda.gov.
For fruits, and vegetables contact the Plant division of APHIS.
Baked goods, seafood, canned and packaged goods, candy and chocolate, etc. must be labeled with country of origin, ingredients, and nutrition information.
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