Imports and exports of caviar into or out of the United States, whether for commercial or personal use, must meet CITES requirements and must be declared to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Wildlife Inspector. It must also meet requirements set forth by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be sure to visit APHIS' site prior to importing or exporting.


Import

All sturgeon caviar and meat entering the United States must be accompanied by a CITES export or re-export permit issued by the foreign Management Authority of export or reexports.  Caviar must meet CITES Caviar Universal labeling requirements.  Detailed information on labeling requirements for caviar is contained in the Service’s regulations at 50 CFR 23.71 and in CITES Resolution 12.7 pdf (Revised at CoP14). 


Export

paddlefish-caviar

Prepared paddlefish caviar
Credit: Steve Kahrs/Osage Catfisheries

All paddlefish and sturgeon caviar and meat exiting the United States must be accompanied by a CITES export or re-export permit issued by the Division of Management Authority.  Caviar must meet CITES Caviar Universal labeling requirements.  Detailed information on labeling requirements for caviar is contained in the Service’s regulations at 50 CFR 23.71 and in CITES Resolution 12.7 pdf (Revised at CoP14). 

  • If you are exporting wild caught paddlefish and sturgeon, you should complete application form 3-200-76pdf.
  • If you are re-exporting (the exportation of a previous exportation to the United States) caviar, you should application form 3-200-73 pdf with copies of the canceled foreign export permit with the annex pages and the Service's declaration form 3-177 pdf.
  • If you are operating an aquaculture facility and exporting paddlefish or sturgeon caviar and meat, you should complete application form 3-200-80 pdf.


Personal Effects

The CITES personal effects exemption allows individuals to import, export, or re-export personally owned items made from CITES species that they wear or carry with them in their accompanying baggage without CITES permits.  Individuals are able to import, export, or re-export up to 125 grams of sturgeon and paddlefish caviar without obtaining a CITES permit if they are carrying the product with them on their travel.  Any person entering or leaving the United States may import or export no more than 125 grams of sturgeon or paddlefish caviar as part of their personal effects. Permits will be needed if the quantity exceeds 125 grams; permits must cover the entire amount, not just the amount in excess of the new limit.  The primary container must meet the CITES caviar universal labeling requirements.

Except for quantities meeting the criteria for a personal effect exemption, all caviar entering the United States must be accompanied by a CITES export or re-export permit issued by the country of export or re-export and must meet CITES caviar universal labeling requirements. Please see the discussion "Export" above.  

Travelers should also remember that the United States does not allow the import of any beluga caviar since the beluga sturgeon is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.


Trade in Beluga Sturgeon (Huso huso) Caviar and Meat obtained from aquaculture facilities

The beluga sturgeon was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), effective October 21, 2004.  Section 4(d) of the Act authorizes the Service to establish regulations that we find necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of threatened species. In 2005, the Service promulgated regulations under section 4 (d) of the Act for beluga sturgeon at 50 CFR 17.44(y). In part, these regulations allow the Service to authorize specific exemptions for qualifying individual aquaculture facilities that raise aquacultured (captive-bred) beluga sturgeon to engage in certain activities without obtaining a threatened species permit under certain circumstances (50 CFR 17.44 (y)(5). In addition to meeting the requirements of the 4(d) rule, the facility must also meet all applicable provisions of other Service regulations at 50 CFR parts 13, 14, and 23. This exemption does not apply to live beluga sturgeon. For more information, please see the 4(d) regulations at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2005-03-04/pdf/05-4278.pdf

As of March 20, 2017, the following facilities have been granted an exemption under the 4(d) rule:

Sturgeon AquaFarms, Bascom, Florida.  An exemption has been granted to Sturgeon AquaFarms by the Service from threatened species permitting requirements, which applies to aquacultured beluga sturgeon meat only. The exemption allows for the take of beluga sturgeon from Sturgeon AquaFarms’ aquacultured stock located at its facility in Bascom, Florida for the purpose of harvesting beluga sturgeon meat and to allow for the interstate commerce and export of the facility’s aquacultured beluga sturgeon meat. The facility was approved on June 15, 2016.