I am moving back to the USA after a few decades living and working abroad. I have a question about shipping my kitchen stuff. Am I permitted to ship my kitchen spices? I have googled this and not found a definitive answer.

I wonder if the shipping company will allow it, if US customs will allow it, and if the US food/agricultural rules allow it.

Here's my doubt area and the reason for the thread. I made a shipment of personal effects to the USA about two months ago. By mistake I checked a wrong box on one of the forms. I believe I indicated by this erroneous check that I was "importing goods" into the USA and that the contents of the suitcase were not personal effects.

Well, in the case of importing goods, one of the items I had shipped, a pair of sunglasses, has to pass a special test for shatterproof glass or something like that. If it's a personal effect, no problem.

My son, whom I shipped to, called customs in New Jersey and cleared up the mistake. But from what I understand, the whole shipment was held up, due to this error.

I do not want to include any dodgy item (a kitchen spice for example), which could hold up the whole shipment. I have no idea what happens in the situation where there is one "prohibited" item. I mean, yeah, ok, remove the offending item and throw it away, fine. But I'm not sure if it works that way.

  • Are you wondering about if the shipping company will allow it, if US customs will allow it, if the US food/agricultural rules allow it, something else, or all of the above?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 13:35
  • All of the above :) I know the US is agriculturally strict, but googling this subject I have found several anecdotal references to people being allowed to ship back their personal kitchen spices. I'm asking here for any information that folks might have.
    – thurgood
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 19:33
  • I asked about the other way around as we are moving to NC from the UK and it was a definitive No. Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 10:22
  • What did you mean by "the other way around"? Who did you ask? thanks
    – thurgood
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:10
  • If you already have a shipping company, ask them.
    – user6860
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 9:05

1 Answer 1


It is fine to ship your personal dried spice rack to the USA.

Just go through them and remove anything that contains any kind of meat product: so gelatine leaves, or bouillon cubes.

And then discard any item that contains a dried version of something that is generally sold fresh in the USA. So, throw away desiccated onions, dried chiles, tangerine peels, etc. But flakes of basil, pepper, etc. etc. etc. should be no issue. In the reference below, they do not mean scientific definition of "fruit" and "vegetable" but rather, the table/household terminology.

Reference page from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Importing coffee, tea or spices for personal use


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