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International Traveler: Soil and Soil-Related Products

International Traveler: Soil and Soil-Related Products

The United States restricts or prohibits the entry of many agricultural products, which can carry foreign pests and diseases that harm American agriculture and our environment.  A major pest or disease outbreak could mean higher grocery bills, shortages of certain foods, and devastating losses for our farmers and ranchers.  Help us keep American agriculture healthy by following the guidance on this page about products you may want to bring into the United States.

Travelers entering the United States must declare all agricultural products on their U.S. Customs forms. U.S. agricultural inspectors will examine your items to be sure they meet entry requirements and do not harbor harmful foreign pests or diseases.  U.S. inspectors have the authority to make a final determination about whether your products can enter the country.  We recommend that you keep receipts and original packaging of agricultural products as proof of their country of origin. 

As long as you declare all the agricultural products you are bringing with you, you will not face any penalties—even if an inspector determines that they cannot enter the country.

Scroll down for more information on how to declare items at Customs.

Soil and Soil-Related Products that you CAN and CANNOT bring back to the U.S. (choose below)

Travelers can import up to 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of soil from Canada if it does not come from an area that is quarantined or infected with roundworms (also called nematodes). 

Soil from all other countries (and from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories) is prohibited from entering the United States without a permit and/or USDA-approved soil treatment. 

Travelers must be able to prove to U.S. customs inspectors that imports of peat, sand, clay, and souvenir rocks or stones are entirely free of soil or any other organic matter (such as algae) before they can enter the United States.  

Travelers are advised to contact USDA’s permitting staff at 1-866-524-5421 (toll-free) or by email at Pest.Permits@aphis.usda.gov for special guidance before bringing in materials such as these.

If you still have questions about whether soil or a particular type of soil-related product can be brought into the United States, please contact USDA’s Plant Import Information Line at 1-866-524-5421 (toll-free) or by email at Pest.Permits@aphis.usda.gov.

Bringing back other products? 

How Do I Declare Agricultural Items?

USDA-trained dogs help sniff out plants and animal products in luggage and carry-on items on international flights.

Make sure you include any agricultural items on your Customs Declaration Form (select form below).  This form provides Customs and Border Protection officials with basic information about who you are and what you are bringing into the United States, such as agricultural and wildlife products and whether you have visited a farm prior to traveling to the United States.

When you declare, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official can check your items.  This is the only way to be certain that your items are free of plant pests and animal diseases.

 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Forms

— Customs Declaration Form: English | Spanish | Other Languages

Instructions on filling out the Customs Declaration Form (English)

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