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How to Avoid Getting Fined for What You Bring to Chile


Since a major part of Chile’s economy is based on its agricultural exports, they are very careful in protecting their country from foreign biological contaminants.

When you arrive in Chile, you will have to pass through a screening process by the Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero (SAG) or Agriculture and Livestock Service.

The purpose of this screening is to prevent the introduction of new diseases, pests, or plagues that could adversely impact Chile’s production and economic output.

What to Declare

If you take anything that is plant- or animal-based, you should declare it in your mandatory sworn statement. If you are flying into Chile, you should get this form on your flight. You can see the declaration form (in PDF) on the SAG website.

You must declare any and all of these items:

  • Milk, butter, cream and cheese.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Meats of any kind, cold cuts, and sausages.
  • Seeds, grains, nuts, dried or dehydrated fruits.
  • Fruit plants, ornamental plants, other plants or part of them: branches, cuttings, bulbs and others.
  • Flowers, dried flowers and garden plants. Soil.
  • Wood or barks.
  • Insects, snails and others. Bacteria and molds for scientific research. Bees, honey and beeswax.
  • Animal semen, biological products and veterinarian medicines.
  • Small animals and pets (dogs, cats, other). Birds.
  • Alive species, products or sub products from them, or elaborated from wild fauna.

Make sure that if you have any of these items on your person, in your pockets, backpack, or luggage, that you declare it.

The SAG officials will not take the excuse “I forgot I had that” when they find a forbidden item in your belongings.

They won’t necessarily confiscate everything you declare, but it needs to be inspected.

Penalty for Non-Compliance

There have been many stories of travelers that didn’t declare restricted items and were surprised by the results.

If you fail to declare a restricted item and one is then found, you will likely be detained for several hours to do paperwork and then will be fined upwards of several hundred dollars. That would not be a good start to your visit to Chile.

Be ready. Check your personal belongings and declare it to the SAG official.

Posted January 20th, 2010 in Travel, Travel Tips.

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8 Comments

  1. Liz Caskey said:

    Great article. We have had numerous clients get this fine. Not a fun way to start a vacation!

    I have brought back everything from chocolate to whey protein, flaxseed, and even pasteurized Cheddar from the US but DECLARING. It all boils down to protecting Chile’s agriculture and they just want to know what’s coming in. Since I started declaring, I never get stopped anymore.

    January 20, 2010

  2. eileen said:

    I have had a few things taken from me, like raw pecans (but these I had declared). The great garlic debacle still stands strong in my mind though. I did escape a fine for accidentally importing a single clove of garlic, but that’s only because a) I got lucky (cool!) and b) the guards were trying to get me to give them my phone number (no way!).

    Thanks for posting this, good to remember!

    January 20, 2010

  3. Margaret said:

    Very important advice! It always amazes me that airlines give fresh whole fruit for breakfast and have actually warned newbies from pocketing that banana or apple as they deplane.
    The last time I came through I had a bag of dried peas with wasabi that I wasn’t sure would pass, so I had them in hand as I came through the line. Definitely the right approach. They appreciated my cooperation AND let me keep my spicy snack!

    January 20, 2010

  4. Pepe said:

    Thanks for your specific examples of things that you were able to bring into the country. You’re all right: when in doubt, declare it.

    For those interested, you can read Eileen’s experience on the Matador Network blog.

    January 21, 2010

  5. Patricio Smith said:

    I had to pay a fine of $200 for bringing a bag a beef jerky for a missionary

    March 17, 2011

  6. Pepe said:

    @Patricio – ouch! Beef jerky will definitely get you in trouble. Be safe and declare every piece of food you have in your bags.

    March 17, 2011

  7. suze said:

    can you bring in tea bags and stevia packets. I do not use sugar or sweet & low products.

    March 27, 2013

  8. Pepe said:

    Hi Suze,

    I’m not sure if those will get through or not. However, if you are bringing a small amount be sure to declare them.

    You might want to ask your question over at the AllChile forum:
    http://www.allchile.net/chileforum/

    March 28, 2013

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