Small Apple, Big Trouble at Customs & Border Patrol

Taj Bates


A Colorado woman was recently fined $500 for having an apple in her carry-on when she went through U.S. Customs.

Her error wasn't in the apple per se, but in her failure to declare it on the blue and white Customs Declaration Form.



Unbeknownst to novice travellers, most countries are super sensitive about fruits, vegetables, rice and meats from foreign lands. For these countries, agriculture is big business and foreign produce, animal products, plants, pesticides and diseases can wreak havoc on local crops, livestock... and the GDP.

Once, in my younger travel days, I had an apple in my carry-on as I moseyed through U.S. Customs. I hate to waste food and wasn't yet hip to the fact that something as simple as a green apple could be a big red flag.

Luckily, I'm not a rebel when it comes to following directions, and had declared the apple on the form. The customs agent asked to see it. He eyeballed it for a second, tossed it in the trash and wished me a nice day.

I learned then that it is best not to bring anything through customs, in any country, that isn't dry, packaged, brand labeled and unopened... unless it's duty-free. It just isn't worth the time and hassle of having to go through a customs inspection. Time you could, instead, be spending high-tailing it to the taxi stand, and zipping off to the sweet freedom of your house or hotel.

Nowadays, I never step off a plane with any food items that need to be declared.

So, if you ever spot me on an international flight wolfing down an apple and a half sandwich as the plane taxes to the gate, now you'll understand why!


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