Two items NOT to bring in your luggage, when traveling from the Philippines to the U.S.

Yesterday, Carol, from the Philippines posted a comment / question about bringing a walis tambo — a traditional Philippine broom — with her, when she visits her relatives in New Jersey next month (see my response about walis in comment section of blog post, here)

In the process of getting her question answered, the customs official I spoke with also mentioned two items often packed in the luggage of those traveling from the Philippines, that are currently banned from entry to the U.S.

And these item are:

  1. Tsitsaron (or chicharron) — My response was…What?  Really? You are just kidding right?  Nope, he was not kidding, so leave your favorite bags of tsitsaron for your friends and relatives in the Philippines, and not as a part of your pasalubong items.
  2. Any chicken bouillon type seasoning (a popular brand is “Magic Sarap”) — again, my thought was….hmmm,  that is strange one, but it may have something to do with minimizing bird flu risks.

So…you will have to buy your tsitsaron from U.S. manufacturers, and leave your Magic Sarap packages behind.

I have seen this brand for sale at our local Filipino stores, so the formula may be different for export (?).

And just a reminder that if you want more information on specific items you want to bring back from the Philippines, you should contact directly, your port of entry airport (such as, Los Angeles, etc.)

For the San Francisco International Airport – Port of Entry officials on this topic can be reached at telephone # (650) 624-7200, extension 415.

To find your own local authority, you can Google “Port of Entry” along with the name of your airport of entry.

It is always a good idea to contact your Port of Entry authorities first, to check if you have questions on items you are bringing in from the Philippines, in case of rule changes!

Dried fish (tuyo) for sale at a Philippine market. Photo

And by the way, as of now, it is still OK to bring as much dried fish and fermented seafood products from the Philippines — like tuyo, bagoong and ginamos — that you can fit in your luggage. NOTE: This applies to SEAFOOD only, not beef or poultry. And of course, not ever any FRESH seafood!

The most important thing is that you DECLARE your items, in case the agriculture department wants to see the items and scan through their X-ray machines.

For more on bringing tuyo, bagoong and ginamos when travelling to the U.S., see the comments section on my  “Luggage with a special kind of stinky” post.

And if you like this post and want to see other Philippine related post from, click here…

Among’s most popular Philippine related post are about

~ Lola Jane

Update on October 2, 2014 — in case your Magic Sarap packages were confiscated by US Customs…and if you absolutely must have the Magic Sarap brand seasoning mix, no worries as it is available at many Asian Market / Filipino stores in the US.

Magic Sarap for sale at store web

Magic Sarap seasoning mix for sale at Virginia, USA based Filipino store

I spotted these packages while at a Filipino store & restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia a few weeks ago…

13 thoughts on “Two items NOT to bring in your luggage, when traveling from the Philippines to the U.S.

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  5. Kumusta po, Lola Jane! I’m a first time reader and commenter. Love your points of inquiry, especially ones about OFWs and Filipino diaspora. I’m doing a school project and was hoping you would participate as a Filipina who’s traveled/lived outside of the Philippines. (brief survey here: I am leaving this comment on this post because it’s how I found your blog, when I was reading about Magic Sarap packets. I’ve used Mama Sita’s tocino and sinigang packets to prepare those dishes but not heard or seen Magic Sarap before. I didn’t grow up with Maggi products around but I’m curious if you’ve used it and how? Happy blogging, Lola and I hope you’ll participate with my project!

    • What a great project Christina! I encourage Fil/Am visitors to this blog to participate in the survey.

      Adobo is truly so uniquely “ours” as Filipinos, and curiously…the variations are indeed endless, from family to family (and even among my own family, my sisters and I each make different versions).

      • Greetings! Thank you so much for completing the survey, Lola Jane! Apologies I haven’t responded sooner but I am grateful for your response. While I have completed the my school assignment, I plan to keep the project going and will include your responses to the map, along with a ‘recipe’ or method for your adobo if you’d like to provide one. I have three sisters and our adobos are also varied. One of my favorite preparations, kale and bacon, even inspired my sister to make her own variation with brussels sprouts 🙂

        • Brussel sprouts, wow, that is a new one that I must try!

          Among my family, we have added mushrooms, bell peppers, chunks of potatoes (and I’ve wilted spinach or bokchoy/pechay on top to steam at the last moment prior to serving).

          Adobo is one of those dishes that truly can be a base for imaginative home cooks 🙂 ….

  6. I believe this information is no longer accurate – there is no prohibition from bringing Magic Sarap into the US – at least there wasn’t last year when my wife brought home a whole BOX of 12!

    • Thank you for your comment, Gent. I will contact the customs office and update the post. By chance, did your luggage get checked by customs upon entry (and which airport?).

      — Lola Jane

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