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Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Southampton...
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Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

I am going to be traveling to Costa Rica at the end of May, and I was curious as to what the policy is on bring food items back to the U.S., specifically coffee. My family members are huge coffee fans and I want to bring them back some costa rican coffee. Can I do that or do I have to ship them back to the U.S. ?

Punta Uva, Costa...
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for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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1. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

No problem with coffee, stock up.

nebraska
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2. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Just be sure to delare it for Customs.

Nowhere
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for Playa Samara
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3. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Don't bring fruit, though. That can get you in quite a bit of trouble.

Southampton...
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4. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

This is also going to be my first time traveling out of the country (this is a college faculty-led trip), so what does that mean?

San Francisco...
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for Sacramento, Puerto Vallarta
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5. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Not sure what you mean by "what does that mean" but I just brought back several packs of coffee and cocoa (all wrapped in original packaging from the factory in Costa Rica) and had no problem. Also, maybe I screwed up but I didn't even declare them as food since coffee and cocoa aren't "food" in my vocabulary. I travel to Mexico several times a year and "food" to me means stuff that's been opened or is not in original wrapping. Or beef and other agricultural products. I would never try to bring those in.

Are coffee and cocoa (all in original wrapping, which is pretty thick plastic) considered food? I transferred through San Salvador and the dogs came up to us (I had it all in my carry-on, which was also examined by hand) and the dogs seemed to think what I was carrying was fine.

nebraska
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6. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Fox, I meant you need to declare any purchases over $25 made in another country and brought back with you to the US. There is no duty on purchases totaling under $400.

So, back to your original question--yes you can bring the great CR coffee back with you. No worries.

Costa Rica
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7. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Coffee and cocoa are not considered "food."

Don't try bringing any fresh fruit, vegetables or plants into the US or you will be pulled aside and your fruits, etc confiscated and if you have not declared it, you could be fined.

Upon arrival in the US, I was once asked if I had any food and I showed him my bag with the leftover half sandwich I had bought at the airport when leaving to go to the US. He laughed and waved me through.

As for the amount of coffee you can bring - it sort of needs to be obviously for personal use and for gifts. Ten bags? No problems. One hundred bags? Someone would probably want to talk to you......

On the declaration form, I put anything that I have bought in Costa Rica (things I am bringing as gifts) no matter how small it is. I've never had to pay duty or been questioned. (Well, I don't spend a lot of money.......) It goes a LOT worse for you if you try to hide something.

Edited: 21 February 2013, 12:25
Southampton...
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8. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Thank you, you have answered all my questions.

@marlySF, i was asking about what they meant about declaring it at customs.

Atlanta, GA
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9. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

If you buy Cafe Britt products, you won't find them cheaper at the airport vs. a grocery store, etc. their prices are fixed. They have a lot of promotions at the airport where if you buy in larger quantities you get free bags and they'll ship a large order home for free (and having carried 20 bags of coffee home on a plane before, its a nice convenience). You will find cheaper coffee products in local grocery stores, etc (but Cafe Britts Cocoa is super yummy).

The only exception to the plant rule is these little orchid/plant sprouts that some of the tourist shops sell in hermetically sealed bottles. As long as the seal isn't broken and its still in the package, those are allowed back in the states.

Playa Hermosa...
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for Manuel Antonio, Jaco
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10. Re: Bringing food back into the United States from Costa Rica

Just an FYI, if you purchase anything at Duty Free (ie: liquers etc.) at the airport prior to departure, you have to claim that on your customs form. The officials at MIA set me straight on that one. (Not sure what I was thinking, just because it's duty free doesn't mean you don't have to claim it. Lesson learned!)