Importing Heirloom Seeds (Importing in General)

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Wendy
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Re: Importing Heirloom Seeds (Importing in General)

Post by Wendy »

I will add my story here, which is from before the crack-down mentioned above....so please do not follow my example.

I arrived at Narita last summer after 14 hours of travel, totally zonked and in that surreal space that is the entrance to jet lag. While I was in the US, I ordered a bunch of seeds from Baker's Creek (Heirloom seeds) which were still in their fedex envelope, in my checked bags.

I am at the baggage carousel, waiting for my bags to arrive. My cart is a little ways behind me. I see the drug dog and crew making their rounds, and think "how cute", and when they get to my cart, I notice that the dog signals by sitting down. I immediately say, "Oh, that is mine!" and they go on their way.

I collect my bags and proceed to the customs line. Then several officers come over once it is my turn, and the man asks if I have any prohibited items (showing me a laminated sign with lots of drug paraphernalia and weapons on it) and I say, "no, nothing like that". He says, in his loud officer voice "I will ask you one more time, look closely, do you have in your bags anything on this sheet?" I take my time to look closely, and reply,"No, I do not have any of those things", and he said you will have to come with us. So they escorted me to a small room. Remember, I am in a total daze from the flight, and not particularly concerned or worried because I lead an excruciating clean life, and I was in zombie mode.

The female officer asks me if it is ok if she does a pat-down. I think her asking my permission is kind of funny, and I hold out my arms. In the meantime, the other two officers are going through every.single.pocket and item in my luggage. I note that while I usually pack by just jamming things in, this time most clothes were folded and there was some semblance of organization. I had some Mexican food ingredients, including chilis. Some new clothes with the tags still on, including a dress which the female officer said was cute.

Then they get to the fed ex envelope. "What is in here?" he asked. "Oh those are seeds for my garden. My husband is a farmer. We grow tomatoes and Mexican vegetables". He did not even open the envelope. They had examined every sock I had, turning it inside out, but did not open the envelope. Nothing was said. Nothing was found (of course) and I was sent on my way, with seeds, after about 45 minutes and some effusive apologies for the mistake.

Would I try to bring seeds in like this again? No, especially with the warnings given above on this thread. We actually are very interested in Japanese heirlooms but lack the knowledge of the vegetables, and are linguistically challenged. Some acquaintance have agreed to help us on our quest, and there are some really promising leads in the threads here.

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Importing Heirloom Seeds (Importing in General)

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Thanks for sharing Wendy, what a nightmare.

It would seem the days of a few packs of seeds 'accidentally' falling into your suitcase are well and truly over.