Mailing meat stateside draws fines

by Robert Szostek
U.S. European Command Customs Public Affairs

It is illegal to send meat and sausages to the United States without U.S. Department of Agriculture approval. Those U.S. personnel in Europe who choose to ignore this prohibition and mail packages of sausages, ham, pate or other meat products to the U.S. will receive fines from the USDA. Even pasta or soup mixes that contain dried meat are not allowed.

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection conducts inspections of mail arriving stateside and refers violations to the USDA. Fines can range from $100 to $1,100. Infestations of animal disease potentially cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars each year.

Trying to sneak meat into the country is a violation. CBP routinely checks packages from overseas and employs specially trained dogs to sniff out food. Service members overseas should keep this in mind when preparing holiday shopping lists.

“All packages mailed to the U.S. must have a customs declaration,” said Scott Sanner, USDA adviser at the USEUCOM Customs and Border Clearance Agency. “In many cases, people falsely list the contents of packages. Willfully trying to sneak prohibited or restricted items into the U.S. without declaring them is considered smuggling and carries very stiff penalties.”

Call a military customs office for more information or visit