Global Entry declaration at US customs

Discussion in 'Travel Security' started by sfo1, Aug 26, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    When I recieve the blue customs delcaration card when flying I always fill it out just in case the computers are down when I arrive at my point of entry. Question 11 (a) asks about fruits, plants, food, insects, I always check yes because I generally bring back candy. When using the GE kiosks there is more descriptive question regarding food and is more specific as to the type of food they are questioning, and I answer this question no. I recently had a discussion with a customs officer regarding the way the question was asked on the blue customs declaration card and at the kiosk. His reply was "if you can put it in your mouth it is food" and should be answered yes at the GE kiosks. So, on my last trip when I returnded to the US when I went to the GE kiosk I did answer yes to the food question and of course recieved a "do not pass go slip" there was a customs agent sitting at a desk next to the GE kisoks, so I went to him with the slip. He asked me why I had received the "no go slip" when I told him it was for candy, he flipped out on me, told me that I really screwed myself up and also the system. He then got up and told me to go to another customs officer as he stomped off. The second officer asked me the same question and I gave him the same answer. He was much nicer than the first and told me that it was NOT necessary to declare candy, and sent me on my way. So, IMOP you are screwed either way. The blue customs declaration card asks about food the GE kiosk is more specific about the type of food, so your damed if you do and damed if you don't. All you need is to get a customs officer that goes competely by the book and you could loose your Global Entry prvivilege. As the first officer I spoke to said to me in our discussion "if you can put it in your mouth" it is "food." Comments?
     
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  2. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    The first customs officer was incorrect - you can put lots of things in your mouth, that's not food. :D
    Seriously, just declare the stuff that interests them. GE privilege assumes that you're an experienced traveler, and should have some idea.
     
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  3. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    don't bother to declare candy. You will just end up wasting your time.
     
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  4. OverThereTooMuch

    OverThereTooMuch Silver Member

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    When the potential risk is so high, I think wasting a little time is a small price to pay.

    But at the same time, it's really unfortunate that they can't have all CBP officers trained on the specific guidelines. If they don't know the rules, how could we possibly be expected to know them?
     
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  5. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    I often carry candy, cupcakes and other items but don't declare them at the kiosk and never did on the blue card either. I have in Philly then been queried waiting for luggage by the agriculture folks and only once when I said chocolate, etc did I do secondary screening
     
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  6. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    I agree, one must play by the rules of the game, but I think that whoever made up these rules has left them slightly ambiguous, which really does not give us a level playing field, their policy can be interpred as they want to interpret it. I would rather take slightly longer to clear customs correctly than to loose the privilege of Global Entry, and I think that the custom officer(s) should appreicate that I/we try and do it correctly.
     
  7. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    And in all reality, since you did not declare the chocolate, they could have revoked your GE, don't think they would but then one never knows, especially if you get a CBP agent that is not having a good day.
     
  8. joejones
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    joejones Silver Member

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    I almost always check "yes" on the blue form when it asks whether I have food. Usually cookies/candy. I never get stopped or questioned by customs...
     
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  9. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    When I check yes on the blue form and have to go through the regular customs like when I take the train or bus from Vancouver to Seattle, they ask what the food is, in one instance when I took the train, the officer wrote on the customs card muffin and juice, as the train stops at the US border when other officers get on to collect the blue form, if the item I have has not been written on the forum they just ask and continue on their way. Never a problem.
     
  10. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    I have gotten the same run-around. CBP folks rolling their eyes when I tell them it's chocolate, some saying it's good I did declare it.

    I look at it this way: it might reduce your chance of a surprise "X" on your card, even though you don't have any food, in the future.

    Yes, you probably could make the case for what the screen says versus the blue card (I have thought about the same thing), but that's winning a battle when you are NOT going to win the war.
     
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  11. deltagoldLass

    deltagoldLass Silver Member

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    the term "food" has ambiguity.....
    i think of food as something sustainable like a chicken or a banana or fish
    or alcohol
    i recently got the Global Entry card and now i am concerned re my replies
    once pre GOES i brought back foie gras a teeeny can from duty free which i declared- considering that food- as a gift for a friend... it was almost confiscated because i was told ' USA MAKES FOIE GRAS NOW" and it is not something rare here so there is no reason to bring it back from france- i said but its a teeny gift for a friend and was allowed to take it with me with a reminder not to do so again...
    but candy..... yes you consume it via your buccal cavity but i dont think of candy as food...
    so now is candy a caveat for GOES????
    i dont really think US customs cares about a chocolate bar.... i believe they are looking for items of greater concern
    but
    am i wrong????? going to Paris in November....... this is a real dilemma
     
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  12. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    My understanding is that, for the most part and with a few exceptions, agents ask you about all "food" in order to elicit more answers from you that they can evaluate, but have no interest in packaged, processed foods such as candy, chocolates, etc. Ingredients such as raw nuts, sugar, etc. could be concern. Anything fresh (meat, veggies, fruit) is likely of concern.

    Even on the blue form, I'll often check "no" but write in "packaged chocolates" to be clear.

    Sent from my iPod Touch using milepoint
     
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  13. deltagoldLass

    deltagoldLass Silver Member

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    GREAT SOLUTION! THANKS
    namaste
     
  14. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    Ah, but candy is food, it will keep you alive.
     
  15. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    Here is the official Customs statement on "food":

    What are the general foods that can enter the United States?
    Even if you believe a food item is able to enter the United States you must declare to the officer that you are bringing food back. Failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties. When in doubt keep it out.

    General Food

    The following are generally admissible if they are unopened and commercially packed. Many prepared foods that are unopened and commercially labeled are admissible (excluding meats and meat products). You may bring bakery items and most cheeses into the United States. As a general rule, condiments, vinegars, oils, packaged spices, honey, coffee, fish, tea, and baby formula are admissible. Because rice can often harbor insects, it is best to avoid bringing it into the United States, particularly if it is in loose burlap packaging. Foods in packaging that appears unsafe or contaminated may be refused entry.

    Fruits and Vegetables

    It is best not to bring fresh fruits or vegetables into the United States.
    Source: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1272/~/food--general-food

    That being said, I agree that there is a difference in the wording on the blue form versus the wording on the Global Entry screen. I believe the wording on the Global Entry screen allows the knowledgeable traveler to declare what must be declared without slowing down the entry process by listing items that will most certainly pass (such as candy.) I have declared candy when using the Global Entry system (thereby getting the infamous "X") and have just been flagged through, so now I no longer declare it.
     
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  16. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Customs is *mostly* concerned with fresh food, fruits, vegetables, meat, etc. that could possibly introduce contaminants that would threaten the US agricultural system. Anything processed is probably not going to be of concern.

    My opinion: Interpret the rules as favorably as you can. If you get stopped, play dumb. Don't be belligerent, just say you didn't think they cared about the candy and you've been told in the past it was a non-issue. The customs officer will probably just be stern with you, go through your things, and send you on your way. So it's the difference between being stopped every time when you might not need to vs. being stopped once in a while when an officer is being especially picky.
     
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  17. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    This was the first time I declared the candy, never had before, just wanted to see what happened, won't be doing it anymore, will just carry it through.
     
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  18. websteth

    websteth Silver Member

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    I had a similar question on my last trip. I did a cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver and picked up some coffee from a local place in San Francisco. I breezed through customs and didn't declare it since I got it in the USA but, should I have declared it?
     
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  19. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    Depends - was it a coffee of mass destruction? ;)
     
  20. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    I simply turn down the blue form when they are passing it out.

    If the computer should happen to be down, there are always blue forms on the tables, and it only takes a minute to fill one out, but in the meantime I've avoided spending time filling it out, or hassling with having to carry it around, through all my flights up to now.

    By doing this I've avoided the ambiguity brought up in this thread.
     
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  21. sfo1
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    sfo1 Silver Member

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    I find filling out the blue form prior to landing is just one less thing I have to deal with if the kiosks are not working, after a long international flight I the last thing I want to do is fill in a form with the hundreds of others who are gathering to go through border security, I want to be ahead of them and out of their way, and I want to be ahead of all the other GE'rs that now are going to have to stand in line for a human customs officer,,,what away to end a trip.
     
  22. websteth

    websteth Silver Member

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    I'm with on you on this one. I get it done and out of the way just in case. I mean, if I am just sitting on the plane doing nothing, it isn't extra time out of my day to get it done.
     
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  23. websteth

    websteth Silver Member

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    haha. Nope. Just ground coffee.
     
  24. ACMM
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    I totally agree. Not that much time saved by not doing it and why would I want to do it in the customs hall with the masses. No thanks!

    (Posted from my milePoint enabled iPhone)
     
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  25. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    I keep one blue form partially filled out with the non changing information and keep it in my bag just in case the machines are down (which has never happened). I am told if the machines are down - we go to the head of the line to the next available Immigration Officer.
     
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