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Traveling with chocolate...?

Hello,

My husband and I will be in Belgium later this year. Can we purchase Belgian chocolate and bring it back to the states with us after our trip?

Posted by
27759 posts

Much of the best chocolate pralines are made with fresh cream and they don't travel well.

Less excellent ones won't and will travel better, but still very sensitive to temperature.

Many have alcohol and must be declared and may run into trouble depending on where you land.

Liquid centres can't go into carry on unless you can somehow squeeeeeze them into the 3-1-1.

Posted by
4013 posts

Just returned on March 19th. We brought back a lot of chocolate from Brussels and had no problem. Two of the best chocolatiers in Brussels are Galler and Mary. Both have a few stores on or near the Grand Place. Mary provides chocolate to the Belgian royal family. Leonidas is pretty much their every day chocolate. There were good chocolate stores in each town we visited (Bruges, Gent, Antwerp, Brussels.) Our chocolate was in our carry-on baggage and there was no problem going through security. My wife’s boarding pass was marked for random extra security, and even with that, there was no problem carrying it on board.

Posted by
744 posts

Belgium has some wonderful handmade chocolates...if in Brussels, be sure to stop in Mary Chocolatier, if only to inhale the aroma! I have been bringing home handmade chocolates from Europe on most of my trips, particularly from Belgium and France.

Can you bring chocolate back into the States? Yes, and here is another link to Aphis information for individual travelers:
https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/3619/kw/APHIS

Must it be in your checked luggage? Yes. Here is the link that specifically mentions chocolate for the Brussels airport. If you are leaving from another airport, their website will have similar information.
https://www.brusselsairport.be/en/passngr/security/bags-security/in-your-hand-baggage

Which chocolates best survive the trip in the luggage hold? I agree with Nigel's observations. And avoid liquid centers, both alcoholic and not: they may leak, crack and/or melt (mine did all three, then hardened into a block.).

I hope you have time to go to a chocolate shop like Mary in Brussels, where you can choose each filled chocolate individually (such decadence). The shops have usually advised me to pick denser fillings to survive the flight. I've also been warned about blooming (whitish marks on the chocolate from temperature changes), which may be a problem if you're traveling mid-summer. It's not been a problem for me in the winter yet.

Have a delicious trip!

Wow, @Jaime, just read your post. Did you have a connecting flight in the US, and was there any problem when you went thru TSA security to access the connecting flight?

Posted by
2018 posts

Yes, you can buy chocolate in Belgium and bring it back to the states with you. I nearly always bring home chocolate from Europe for my family and declare it under "food" on the customs declaration. I know there are many opinions on whether or not to declare it. I've never had it confiscated nor had it be anything other than a treat for those I gift it to-or myself! I asked once about the need for declaring these kinds of treats and was told by an agent that because it is food, I shouldn't want to risk having my Global Entry compromised, as I was told that could happen if I am found to have any kind of food I haven't declared. Seems picky to me but It is what it is, I suppose, and even one agent I discussed this with said he sees no reason to have to declare these kinds of (gift) foodstuffs but I should declare it. Just as an aside, I loved every piece of chocolate I have had during (and after) my travels abroad but the chocolate I had in Turkey was my favorite! Ulker......

Posted by
4013 posts

Barbara, no, we had a direct flight from Brussels to Dulles in Washington and we drove home from there. When going through customs and asked what we brought back, we said chocloate. The agent smiled and said have a nice day.

Posted by
2018 posts

jaimeelsabio, that's also the answer I always get when asked about the "food" I've declared but I haven't been able (yet) to bring myself to not declare it! And when I do that, it means I then have to through an agent instead of going straight through to baggage claim since now, using through the kiosks, there is no way to explain "it's only gift and packaged chocolate"! It's never been a problem bring these kinds of foodstuffs home from Europe, just a little more time consuming than I would like but what's 5 minutes or so when you're bringing home chocolate?

Posted by
489 posts

The custom's agent at SFO told me last year that I don't have to declare the chocolate on my form but I should tell the agent directly, so that I don't get a big X on my printed form. We will be in Belgium again next month and will bring lots of chocolate back.

Posted by
6649 posts

There are two issues that are being combined in the discussion. Should you declare it? - the question asked on entry is pretty basic: are you bringing back any food? Chocolate is food. All "declaring" food does is get you a quick conversation with the Agriculture folks to make sure you aren't bringing something else back that potentially has bugs or a disease, like dairy and meat products. The other issue is, can you bring it in w/o paying duty. It adds in to your $800 limit, so as long as you don't exceed that, no problem. Just because most people get by w/o a problem is not permission or a reason to not declare it. The link regarding checking it versus carryon only refers to chocolate spread (gels), e.g., Nutella, not solid chocolate.

Posted by
902 posts

I brought back chocolate from Belgium in2016 and from France in 2017 with no issues. Hoping to bring back butlers/Guinness chocolate from Ireland in a month