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I'd like to send a small package of various food items from Germany to Indiana, USA.

Example items that I'd pick:

  • Packet of M&Ms
  • Chocolate bars (Ritter Sport or similar)
  • Kinder chocolate eggs

I would package everything in a box and send it via DHL or UPS. I am not going to include alcohol, grains, nuts, or any kind of short-lived food like fruit and vegetables.

Can packaged, long-shelf-life foods enter the US via courier service? Are there any specific restrictions on what ingredients may or may not be brought into the country?

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    Kinder eggs are notoriously banned in the US Jul 10, 2023 at 15:14
  • @NicolasFormichella thanks for pointing that out, for some reason I thought the ban on those was lifted but apparently I was wrong. Jul 10, 2023 at 16:14
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    Is it really worth paying postage to send M&Ms to the US?
    – Traveller
    Jul 10, 2023 at 16:28
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    In New York City you can buy them in (as far as I've seen) any bodega, corner grocery, or deli. I haven't been to Indiana in 30 years so I can't comment on availability there. But the real motivation for my comment was my desire to bring something from Switzerland to my chocolate-loving mother in Manhattan. Walking by a Swiss chocolate shop in Geneva with a name I'd never encountered before, I decided to go in and buy her a box. Less than a day after I arrived in New York, I walked by that company's Manhattan store (or, as I see now, one of three such stores) 5 blocks from her apartment.
    – phoog
    Jul 12, 2023 at 7:34
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    @jovial_golick according to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder_Surprise Kinder Surprise, with the toy inside, is still banned in the U.S., but popular on the black market. Kinder Joy, with the toy separate from the chocolate egg, is legal. Jul 16, 2023 at 13:57

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Can packaged, long-shelf-life foods enter the US via courier service?

Yes. There is probably millions of packages like that around christmas time each year, and it's perfectly normal and legal, all year long.

Are there any specific restrictions on what ingredients may or may not be brought into the country?

Yes, Kinder eggs are banned. It is not allowed to "hide" non edible small parts in food because it is deemed a hazard, and Kinder eggs fit this description to the letter. While as a European I think that's weird, nobody can possibly accidentially swallow the huge yellow capsule inside, the law itself makes sense and is not going anywhere soon. So don't send Überraschungseier specifically. Everything else should be fine.

Make sure you stay under the tax limit for gifts and declare it as a gift. Otherwise the receiver may need to pay more customs fees than the candy is worth. That might still be okay around Christmas, when there is "exotic" stuff and flavors in the box, but for a simple "thank you" candy box, it would be unfortunate.

On a personal note, pick flavors that don't exist over there. "Waldmeister" is a thing most Americans have never heard about, and around Christmas Time, for whatever reason, many candy bars are offered with "Spekulatius" flavor here, but that flavor is never sold in the US. Duplo is a thing they don't really have over there, too.

In case you are sending other gifts too, or just have some spare room in the box: don't use packaging material like styrofoam pellets or recycling paper shreds. Gummy bears can be bought in a big pack that contains lots and lots of mini bags of 5-7 each. Those are perfect packaging material. Stuff the whole box with little gummy bear packages instead of styrofoam balls or paper.

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  • Lakritze (licorice) is another candy flavor much more readily available in Germany than in the U.S. Jul 16, 2023 at 17:58

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