You may have heard about it in the news last month. A Colorado woman returning to the U.S. from Paris got hit with a hefty fine for bringing pieces of an apple through Customs and Border Control.
Crystal Tadlock was traveling back to the U.S. when, toward the end of her flight, a Delta flight attendant passed out apple slices. They were sealed inside a plastic bag with the Delta logo on it. Not being hungry she decided to save the snack for the last leg of her trip back to Denver.
Plans changed, however, when she hit customs in Minneapolis. She was randomly stopped and an agent found the pieces of fruit.
Later, back home she told a local television reporter, “He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, ‘yeah.’ I didn’t really get why he was asking that question, and then he said ‘It’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500.”
If you’ve traveled internationally you’ll remember you have to fill out a U.S. customs form during the trip home. That document makes it clear that you have to declare all agricultural items you are bringing into the country. Penalties for not doing so are described on the Customs and Border Control website:
“Prohibited items that are not declared by a passenger are confiscated and disposed of by CBP. More importantly, civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to 1,000 dollars per first-time offense.”
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, “every fruit or vegetable must be declared to a CBP Agriculture Specialist or CBP Officer and must be presented for inspection.”
A spokesperson for Delta said the airline encourages customers to adhere to all U.S. Customs and Border Protection policies and requirements.
Not only was Ms. Tadlock fined $500 she now faces the loss of her Global Entry status, a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.
Tadlock plans to appeal the fine.