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Amsterdam Airport House of Tulips

I would like to purchase some Tulips for my mom on way through to my connecting flight. I will only be doing carry on. How will this work when I land in the states with customs and global entry.

Posted by
5047 posts

You must check the agriculture regulations regarding bringing plants and flowers in. I know only specially- certified tulip bulbs are allowed to be carried into the US, not just any bulbs you would buy in country. The regulations are quite strict. Good luck!

Posted by
4560 posts

Don't do it if you do not want to get stuck in the ag inspection line in the US (and you absolutely should be honest in this regard or face fines). My husband bought some of the ones labeled as "approved for import," but he was diverted into the line anyway. It was a long line with people bringing in god knows what and he was stuck in it when he just wanted to get home--too late to toss the &%$ tulips. He was a very unhappy camper--we still call them "tantrum tulips" every spring.

Not worth it to me--I am a gardener and I assure you there are some excellent bulb growers in the US that you can order by mail.

PS I do appreciate that these laws are to protect our health, safety, and agricultural system, but the labels should not mislead you that you will not require inspection when buying them.

Posted by
14175 posts

The tulips sold at the airport kiosks are appropriately bagged for export.

Which US airport will you be arriving at? I'm asking because in my experience things are set up slightly differently in each airport. On the last 3 trips I've had I've had my first US arrivals at 3 different airports - Seattle, Atlanta and Salt Lake City.

In Seattle the GE kiosks were down but we were directed to a person who had on previous trips questioned me at the Customs entry booth. This time he was both Immigration and Customs. He asked if I had any agricultural goods along with some other ridiculous questions (why are you traveling alone?...and don't get me started, lol!!)

In Atlanta the GE kiosks were not working so I was directed to a person who barely looked at me, glanced briefly at my passport and said/asked nothing. I don't even remember going thru a Customs stop there although I am sure I did and did not see the Ag inspection station there.

In SLC the GE kiosks were working and I had to acknowledge whether I was importing any agricultural materials on the onscreen questionnaire. In general there you are turfed off to the side to Ag inspection. I had previously brought in Red Rice from the Camargue and was unsure about it. The desk was not busy so I walked over to ask if they needed to look. No, rice import is fine and does not need inspection.

So...I'd be prepared to put the information on a questionnaire on the GE kiosk or to mention it to the officers you talk to. The customs folks are very used to the flights from Amsterdam and are used to the bagged bulbs people bring in.

I'm going thru there in a couple of weeks and should have plenty of time if you need me to check anything out for you!

Editing to add: Crossposted with Valadelphia! Which airport did you guys come thru for your husband's Tulip Tantrum?

Posted by
242 posts

Thank you all for your help. I know I bought some bulbs back in 2018? that said something about approved for for customs on the bag(something like that). Mom was really upset that the squirrels ate them so I thought this would be a nice surprise as I have a long layover in Amsterdam. I will be arriving in JFK and using the kiosk booth.

Posted by
4560 posts

Hi Pam, We fly into Dulles, and they seem to have a pretty robust process.
My husband is very much a stickler for following rules as a federal employee, but he is the type who cannot tolerate one second in the airport longer than he must endure after a grueling flight home. So, some might find a brief diversion for another line worth it, but just to say they are from the Netherlands is not worth it to me as a gardener when I know I can mail order them.

Posted by
1393 posts

When do you plan to do this? I ask, because right now (August) it’s still too early to buy tulip bulbs. This year’s tulip bulbs are still being harvested and processed before hitting the stores in September/October.
The bulbs that are sold right now in souvenir shops etc are last year’s bulbs that should have been planted last November/December. If you buy bulbs now, you should be aware that there are at least one year old and that there’s a good chance they won’t come out.

Posted by
5650 posts

You can bring up to 12 with a phytosanitary certificate. When I bought some at Schipol, the box was clearly marked with this. Official regulation is here:
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/traveler/intl-travel/plants-seeds/plants-seeds

With Global Entry, you do have to declare them. The last time I came through GE, I don’t recall any questions on the terminal (like there were pre-covid). If I had had something to declare, I would have done so when speaking to the CBP agent.

When I brought in bulbs, I told the officer that I had bulbs. I was pulled aside. I waited for an Agricultural officer. They wanted to see the box to verify that they had the appropriate certificate.

Posted by
11356 posts

I purchased tulip bulbs that were labeled as allowed to take to the US. At JFK inspection, the US agricultural agent took half of my bulbs and threw them away in spite of them having been approved for US.. He didn’t see the other half!

Posted by
7 posts

One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet: as of our visit last year, the Schiphol House of Tulips sells both bulbs and flowers that are approved for US import and bulbs and flowers that are not approved for US import. Read carefully while choosing your package!