General Regulation of Importing Caviar:
In general, the importation of caviar, a product of an endangered species, is regulated and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES regulated importation of caviar into the U.S. by requiring specific permits in order to protect selected species. Without proper permit documentation, caviar cannot be imported into the U.S.
Exception When Importing Caviar for Personal Use:
A CITES permit is not required if an individual is carrying (on their person or suitcase) caviar intended for personal use. Meaning this caviar is not to be sold or enter interstate commerce. The Maximum amount permitted per person is 125 grams of caviar. Which translates to roughly 4.5 ounces. This exception applies to passengers on Airlines as well as Cruise Ships.
Exception to the Exception - Beluga Caviar:
Regardless of the personal use exception, no amount of Beluga Caviar can be imported or exported to or from the U.S. for any use. As a "threatened" species, there is an all out moratorium on Beluga Caviar for all CITES member nations, including the U.S.
- CITES Permits are required to import/export caviar into our out of the U.S.
- Up to 125 grams (4.5oz.) of caviar can be imported when traveling (on your person or suitcase) without a CITES permit if the caviar is for personal use.
- Beluga Caviar can NEVER be imported/exported - With or Without CITES or for Personal Use - No Exceptions.
For more Information, check out the Fish and Wildlife Service's Caviar Passengers Fact Sheet and Guide.