Caviar is a favorite of those who enjoy the finer things in life, but are you allowed to take it with you when you fly? We’ve done the research and put together this handy article to answer that question for you.
So can you take caviar on the plane? Yes, you can take caviar with you on a plane, though there are several stipulations and rules to follow when doing so. There is a lot to consider, from your destination to the specific type of caviar you are carrying, and if you don’t get it right then unfortunately you risk losing it.
So what exactly do you need to keep in mind when it comes to caviar and flying? How can you make sure it’s kept safe and isn’t confiscated at security or customs? Read on to find out!
What to Know Before Bringing Caviar on the Plane
While you can usually bring caviar with you when you return from your latest business trip or jaunt abroad, that isn’t always the case. Here are the three most important factors to determine whether or not it’s a good idea:
- The type of caviar
- The quantity of caviar
- The value of caviar
Firstly, you have to take into consideration the specific kind you are wanting to bring with you. There are seven main varieties, and restrictions apply to certain ones. Beluga caviar may be the rarest and most expensive, but it is also the most strictly controlled of all.
If you have managed to get your hands on some beluga caviar then, sorry, you won’t be able to bring it back into the United States when your vacation is over.
Although you can still buy caviar from beluga hybrid species in the country, the real deal was banned back in 2005. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose to do this due to the beluga sturgeon’s status as an endangered species.
You should also take note of the amount. Even the caviar that you are allowed to bring can have a restriction on quantity. These limits are intended as a means of regulating the caviar industry and helping to prevent overfishing, something which has led to dramatic drops in sturgeon populations. We should be grateful for these limits if we want caviar to keep being a thing.
When traveling to most countries, you will only be allowed to bring in 125 grams for personal use. This is because of something called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
CITES is currently ratified by 183 countries, meaning the vast majority are signed up, and as with any of the rules governing caviar this is subject to change.
That isn’t the only restriction you are going to face when traveling with caviar. You are only allowed to take 250 grams of it out of Russia, for example. That is still too much caviar to import into most places, though, and if you were to try it would probably just be taken from you when you reached your destination.
We all know caviar can be very expensive, and this is something else that’s worth keeping in mind when you’re flying with it. Different countries have different rules when it comes to declaring money and valuables, and given the price of caviar, it can definitely qualify as a valuable item.
While researching this article we found stories from people who’d been stopped at customs because of it, so when that paperwork is put in front of you always make sure you mention your caviar!
So there are your three main concerns when deciding whether you want to fly with this exquisite delicacy. We aren’t done yet, though. Read on to discover what else you should take into account if you’re planning to bring caviar on the plane.
Can I Bring Caviar in my Hand Luggage?
If you are going to bring caviar on your flight, what is the best way to do it? Technically it’s okay to bring it in either your checked or your carry-on luggage, but is one way preferable to the other?
Remember that when you’re flying, the maximum amount of liquid you can have in a container in your carry on luggage is 100 milliliters. 1ml equates to 1 gram, so if you’re pushing the limit of your 125-gram caviar allowance then you run the risk of airport security confiscating it.
While you may balk at the idea of your caviar being considered a liquid or a gel and disagree with the decision, when it comes to airport security there isn’t much room for argument. If you don’t want to take that risk, put it in your checked luggage instead and avoid the unpleasant sight of your caviar being thrown in the trash.
Something else you should bear in mind is how to keep your caviar from getting too warm. You’re going to be sitting on a plane for hours and with caviar being perishable you’re going to want to be in control of the temperature. Use a mini cooler or an ice pack to prevent it from spoiling, but don’t forget the 100ml liquid rule for carry-on items.
If you’ve decided to put your caviar in your checked luggage, will it definitely be safe? A good number of us have had to deal with lost luggage in the past, but surprisingly individual items from the case can go missing as well.
Whether it’s your entire suitcase that’s gone or just the caviar, you’re going to want to keep the receipt in case you’re one of the unlucky ones and need to claim for compensation. We always recommend investing in locks for all your luggage, too.
Do I Have to Declare my Caviar at Customs?
While there may be the occasional country where you can bring in as much caviar as you like, it is restricted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species as we mentioned earlier.
This convention covers 183 countries. As both a restricted and costly item, caviar is worth declaring even though you’ll most likely be within that tight 125-gram limit.
While countries may vary in their specific rules, it’s understandable that they want to know what is being brought across their borders. It isn’t just valuables that are asked about, food items often need to be declared as well.
Canada, for example, specifically mentions fish and seafood on border services declarations. You may also be required to pay tax on items of a certain value that you want to bring back to your country.
It is never a smart idea to try sneaking things through customs without filling in the proper paperwork. If goods aren’t properly declared then you could face seizure and permanent loss of the item, or a penalty fine that is often tied to the item’s value.
When you’re talking about something as expensive as caviar, that becomes a sickening prospect.
It’s also important to make sure caviar is labeled correctly and adheres to CITES guidelines. As TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, states:
“All sturgeon caviar containers in domestic and international trade have to bear a non-reusable label containing details about the source and the country of origin of the caviar”
Can I Bring Caviar on a Domestic Flight?
How about if you’re planning on flying, but not between countries? Do you still have to follow the rules set out above when staying local?
Thankfully the 125-gram limit will not apply, so if you’ve been on a city break within your own country or want to take some caviar as a gift when you’re visiting someone, you should be able to bring as much as you want. Your baggage may still end up being inspected, but foods that are legal within your country can usually be transported internally without issue.
As always, there are caveats. In Australia, for example, foodstuffs may be subject to restrictions or quarantine if you’re traveling between states.
This applies to things such as seafood, fruit, and veg. It is always worth double-checking your own country’s rules before flying, just to be sure.
You are going to need to go through security no matter whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, so getting your caviar on the plane if it is in your hand luggage will be at the discretion of airport security.
Will the Rules be Different if I am Traveling Through a Third Country?
What if you’ve picked up some amazing caviar as a souvenir, but have a connecting flight in a third country on the way home? One example would be flying through the United States on the way to Canada with beluga caviar which is banned in America.
Another would be flying to one of the few countries that don’t have the 125-gram limit but having to go through a country that does to get there.
There are multiple answers to this question, and they depend upon both the third country’s rules and how you have booked the tickets for your trip.
You should be okay if you have a single itinerary, and your bags should make it all the way to your final destination without needing to clear extra checks in this transit country. This is not always the case, though.
If you’ve booked multiple tickets for separate legs of the journey then it’s a different story and far more likely that problems could arise.
If this is your situation and your bags are not checked through to your final destination, you’re going to have to pass customs, check-in and go through security again partway through your trip. If the rules governing caviar differ in this third country then there’s a chance it could be taken from you.
Once again there are exceptions, and the United States is one of them. Here’s how the U.S. Customs and Border Protection puts it:
“Everyone arriving at a port of entry to the U.S. Is subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection officers for compliance with immigration, customs, and agriculture regulations”
Unfortunately, this is not just for people traveling to the United States. You’ll have to go through customs even if you have an onward flight to a different country.
We would not recommend bringing that beluga caviar even if you’re just passing through as it will almost certainly be confiscated, and the officers would be well within their rights to do so given the country’s laws.
Is There a Way to Bring More Than 125 Grams of Caviar?
What if you’ve splashed out while on your vacation and bought more than 125 grams? Your friends are going to be happy, right? Everyone gets a tin! Well, we hope you’ve kept that receipt as you may want to try and return some of it.
Some countries are not signed up and may have different rules and limits, but the vast majority are and you’re more than likely flying to one which is part of the convention. There is a way to bring more than 125 grams between these countries, however.
To bring a larger amount a CITES permit needs to be secured, but this is not something you’re going to be able to get just because you want to bring some extra caviar back from your vacation.
The personal allowance is there for a reason, and there wouldn’t be much point in having permits for trade in protected species in the first place if everyone was able to get one.
There can be other exceptions. For example, shipments of caviar do not require permits within the EU as it is a common market and in that sense travel between its countries is considered domestic.
If you’re flying from Paris to Berlin, there’s no need to make a customs declaration so you should be able to take more with you.
That’s everything you need to consider when bringing caviar on a plane. We hope you’ve found this article helpful, now enjoy your flight (and hopefully your caviar)!
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