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Getting Breast Milk Through Customs

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I've been trying to dig up some information for a friend on getting breast milk through customs and thought I'd open it up to my Lactivist reader to see if any of you have any experience in the matter.

The mom is planning a trip to Mexico with her husband, but without her children. (You know, the GOOD kind of Mexico trip...) She plans on pumping while she's there and would like to bring the milk home with her. However, neither one of us have been able to find any information on the Mexico requirements for flying with breast milk or on potential customs issues. (Because when she flies home, she'll have to pack according to Mexican air guidelines, not according to the TSA and of course she may also have to deal with customs agents if they search her luggage.)

I spoke with the TSA this morning about the situation and she said to stick with the TSA guidelines of checking any expressed milk (you can't carry milk on the plane if you are not traveling with a child) and suggested that the mother carefully label both the package containing the milk and any individual containers of milk. They also gave me the phone number for the Mexican consulate and for Border Patrol, which I've forwarded on to the mom so that she can call to see if they have any additional input.

So, any Lactivist readers travel INTO the United States from another country with expressed breast milk? Did you have to deal with customs? Did you have any problems? How did you figure out what the packing requirements were in the country you were traveling from?

I (and my friend) would really appreciate any input from moms that have made similar trips.

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  1. Blogger Cairo Mama | 11:52 PM |  

    She will probably be able to get on the plane in Mexico with the breastmilk, but she will have to declare it at customs when she comes back into the United States, so US customs rules apply. You are required to declare all food items.

    The only time I flew with expressed breastmilk (without my baby), it was from Dallas to Cleveland last October and I just packed my milk in ice in a cooler and checked it in my luggage. Then, after I got through security, I got 2 large cups of ice from Starbucks, went into the bathroom and pumped and put that milk on ice. But, I didn't have to go through security or customs on the way out in Cleveland so it was not a problem.

    As for packing the milk in Mexico, her best bet is probably to ask before she leaves the airport when she arrives. She will probably not get a clearcut answer any other way.

    Anyway, check with US customs, I think they will be the determining factor as to whether she gets the milk in.

  2. Blogger Darlene | 4:53 PM |  

    Something a bit 'out of the box' (well, actually, IN the box) to consider...pack it in dry ice and ship it home. She may have much less trouble at the borders and it might be a more reliable way to keep it cold enough in case of delays, etc.

    Just a thought....

  3. Blogger sara | 1:00 PM |  

    She definitely needs to declare it to customs... but that's obvious I guess. My grandparents were driving from Mexico back into the US and got stopped and had their RV searched. They were fined $100 for an old dried out potato that found it's way into some weird place... they hadn't declared it because they didn't know it was there!

    I hope your friend has an uneventful trip!

  4. Anonymous mamajake | 1:45 PM |  

    Just a clarification on TSA regulation (no big surprise that someone at TSA couldn't correctly state its own policy, grrr). You CAN carry on pumped breastmilk. However, it must be in 3 oz. bags (like other fluids or gels) and the 3 oz. bags must be in one 12 oz. bag. You will need to dump your ice before security and get more on the other side.

  5. Blogger Kerry | 11:50 AM |  

    I just researched this myself and breast milk does NOT need to be declared for customs, according to the CDC. This is mentioned in the last section of this page: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh8-Breastfeeding.aspx.

    However, might be better safe than sorry just to declare it!

  6. Blogger Karen | 6:56 AM |  

    Also note that as of August 4th 2007 any amount of breast milk can be taken through security by nursing mothers travelling with or without their child. This info was published by the TSA under the headingNew Policies for Lighters, Electronics and Breast Milk.

    I'm going to try out the customs thing on a business trip (without baby) to the UK next week. Wish me luck. I'm also nervous that the UK security won't like the breast milk as I can't find that they have an equivalent to the new TSA rule...

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