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Limits on importing frozen meat for personal use

| 03/07/2018 | 8 Comments

I have lived on the Brac for over 30 years and when I return from the US I always bring in frozen meat that complies with the regulations of the Agricultural Department. The last time I came in I claimed all my frozen meat but the customs officer who checked my things was, obviously, out to harass me for some reason. He told me that there was a 12lb limit for frozen meat. I have looked high and low and have even asked a customs friend of mine. Nobody seems to think there is such a limit and the law as read does not mention limits like this. This officer thought it was really funny to harass me and was laughing about it in the back room with his fellow officers as I was waiting for him to finish his “warning” to give me. My Caymanian friends and the other officers who were working in the room were obviously puzzled by his actions and embarrassed that I would be treated like this. I think he made up this 12lb rule to harass me. Can you confirm that there is no such rule for frozen meat?


Cayman National Bank

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No, I’m afraid I can’t because it turns out that you are wrong. I contacted the Department of Agriculture and an official there confirmed that the customs officer was more or less correct. The personal allowance for an individual importing meat without a licence from the DoA is actually 5kg, which is 11.02lbs.

The DoA official told me, “Under the current ‘Conditions Governing the Importation of Meat and Meat Products into the Cayman Islands’, as established under the authority of the Animals Law, any person seeking to import a carcass (meat or meat products) exceeding five kilograms (5 kg) must first obtain an import licence issued by the Director of the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture.”

In addition the conditions state:

The importer shall obtain and produce for the Customs Officer or Inspector at the point of entry into the Cayman Islands a Certificate of Wholesomeness from the Competent Government Authority of the country of origin of the meat and/or meat product declaring that:

(i)        the carcass or portion of the carcass thereof, whether fresh, frozen, chilled, pasteurised, cured or pickled, originated from animals slaughtered while in good health and free from contagious and infectious diseases;

(ii)       the meat or meat product has been inspected and passed for food under the laws of the country of origin; and

(iii)      was wholesome and unadulterated at the time of inspection.

The official added that travellers are granted a personal import allowance as follows:

Meat and meat products intended for personal consumption up to a maximum of 5 kg will be permitted entry without export certification provided the original packaging is intact and the packaging bears the inspection legend from the country of origin.

So basically, if it’s purchased from a store and is packaged appropriately and USDA approved, it should be OK.

As to the officer, if anything, he was being generous with a 12lb limit, especially if he let you off this time with a warning.

I can’t help feeling that, having erroneously jumped to the conclusion that the customs officer was picking on you unfairly and even making up rules, you then interpreted his demeanor as being rude. Is it not possible that he was not laughing at you in the back room with his fellow officers but was laughing at some joke that you were not a party to?

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Category: Agriculture, Ask Auntie, Customs Questions

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If those are the current rules, any chance Customs would be willing to update their website to convey accurate information to the public? http://www.customs.gov.ky/portal/page/portal/cushome/restrictions/requirements/meatproducts

  2. John Lin says:

    A friend of mine was bringing in some home made spicy sauce. The customs officer said he would confiscate it.
    My friend asked for it back for a moment and spat in it.
    The customs officer apparently said, ‘You can keep it now. I don’t want it.”
    No doubt that was where the wrongly confiscated caviar went last Christmas too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can see why this person thinks he was singled out by Customs. Customs seem to dictate the law very inequitably, and some depending on their last name or “who dey for” seem to sail through despite the obvious appearance they might be smuggling or way over the limit. Still more work to be done Mr. Clifford!

  4. brac flac says:

    If you try to bring in a whole cow what do you expect?.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Aunt Annie, I have great respect for your work, but I would like to make a small correction. The USDA inspects meat in the states.

    Auntie: Thank you! You are, of course, correct.

  6. Anon says:

    If you want to live on Cayman Brac, how about patronizing the eight plus establishments there already that sell food. Caymanians have a perfect right to put restrictions on imports that encourage local commerce. When I go down to the Brac I only bring things that I can’t get there locally. Otherwise, I support the merchants who have gone to the trouble of importing and storing food and other items for my convenience because I am grateful for their efforts.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, looks like we got us a lawbreaker…and other customs officers who did not do their job properly…

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  8. Annoyed says:

    Since the Chuckle took over Customs the entire system is shambolic. I appreciate he’s trying to weed out bad roots internally but everything thing else a mess!

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