Sukkot Travel Guidelines

Sukkot Travel GuidelinesLiving in a religious neighborhood in Israel I take it for granted that on Sukkot everyone will be walking around and traveling with their Arba’as HaMinim. When you are crossing international borders, though, or even flying within continental USA, you might come in contact with officials who are less sympathetic to your strange agricultural products.

First of all security-wise you might have a weapon or drugs stashed away inside the Esrog (I’m not trying to give anyone bad ideas…)  and at the very least you’re attempting to cross a border with an unidentified agricultural product which may spread disease or infestation.

TSA  Sukkot Travel Guidelines

I looked up the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for their official policy and they state as follows:

TSA’s screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot – a palm branch, myrtle twigs, willow twigs, and a citron – in airports, through or security checkpoints, or on airplanes. These plants or agricultural items are not on TSA’s Prohibited Items List. However, all persons and property will undergo security screening at the checkpoint.

(see their full statement at Religious Holiday of Sukkot)

Nevertheless, according to the following video it’s strongly advised to travel with high quality Arba’as HaMinim because they will be confiscated if any bugs are found on them. This means that it’s not recommended to take the Possul (disqualified) Lulav which you picked up for your kids from the market floor.

At least the TSA has an official policy but I haven’t yet found anything on the European websites, so be aware and very patient with the authorities when you land in Europe or Asia.

CBP Guidance for Travelers for the 2014 Sukkot Holiday

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week updated their agricultural import guidelines in the following link Guidance for Travelers for the 2014 Sukkot Holiday.

Israeli Sukkot Travel Guidelines

Sukkot Travel Guidelines
Arba’as HaMinim

On the other hand if you are planning on coming to Israel on Sukkot with Arba Minim, take only one Esrog and nothing else. The Agriculture Ministry has a clear message for you: Customs officials will seize and dispose of all Lulavim (palm fronds), Hadassim (myrtles), and Aravot (willow branches). Israeli law is extremely strict when it comes to agricultural products. See the following article for more information: Ministry to Tourists: Bring the Etrog, Leave the Lulav Behind.

Gmar Chasima Tova & Chag Sameach