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U.S. Travel Information

U.S. Customs in general

Customs Declaration in general
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declarations, Form 6059B, are distributed on vessels and airplanes and are available in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Fill out your declaration before you arrive so you can speed up your CBP clearance. You must complete the information requested on the front of the declaration. You need not itemize things you brought with you for personal use—for example, clothing, toiletries, portable radios—if they are within the exemptions allowed for arriving nonresidents. You must, however, declare the value of any gifts, business articles, or items not for your own use that you have brought with you to the United States.

You may declare these articles orally at the time of your inspection; the CBP officer may, however, ask you to list them on the back of your declaration form. Persons arriving by land transportation will make an oral declaration if all the articles they brought are within the allowable exemptions.

Written Declaration
When making your written declaration, you must list all goods accompanying you other than your personal effects, along with their price or value. This includes gifts for other people, articles carried for someone else, articles for sale, and commercial samples. You need not list wearing apparel, articles of personal adornment, toiletries, and similar personal effects that you owned abroad and have brought for your own use.

The purchase price of articles you declare must be stated in U.S. dollars. If you don’t know the price, say so. If the article was a gift, state the fair value, in U.S. dollars, in the country where it was acquired. Misinformation can result in delays and even penalties.

Family Declaration
The head of a family may make a joint declaration for all members residing in the same household and traveling together to the United States.

Vistors (Non-Residents)

Alcoholic Beverages
Nonresidents who are at least 21 years old may bring in, free of duty and internal revenue tax, up to one liter of alcoholic beverage—beer, wine, liquor—for personal use. Quantities above the one-liter limitation are subject to duty and internal revenue tax.

In addition to federal laws, you must also meet state alcoholic beverage laws, which may be more restrictive than federal laws. This means that if the state in which you arrive permits less liquor, wine, or beer than you have legally brought into the United States, that state’s laws apply to your importation of alcoholic beverages for personal use.

Shipping of alcoholic beverages by mail is prohibited by United States postal laws.

Tobacco Products
You may include in your personal exemption not more than 200 cigarettes (one carton) or 50 cigars or two kilograms (4.4 lbs.) of smoking tobacco, or proportional amounts of each. An additional 100 cigars may be brought in under your gift exemption.

Cigars of Cuban origin are generally prohibited entry, even for personal use. Please check with the CBP attaché at the American Embassy if you have any question on this subject.


Gift Exemptions for nonresidents
Up to $100 worth of merchandise, free of duty and internal revenue tax, as gifts for other people. To claim this exemption, you must remain in the United States for at least 72 hours, and the gifts must accompany you.
This $100 gift exemption, or any part of it, can be claimed only once every six months. You may include 100 cigars within the gift exemption, but alcoholic beverages may not be included.
If you’ve used your gift exemption and then return to the United States before the six-month period has ended, you may still bring in up to $200 worth of merchandise free of duty for your personal or household use. Any of the following may be included in this $200 exemption: 50 cigarettes, 100 cigars, 150 milliliters of alcoholic beverages, 150 milliliters of perfume containing alcohol, or equivalent amounts of each. If you exceed any of these limitations, however, or if the total value of all dutiable articles exceeds $200, no exemption can be applied.
Do not gift-wrap your articles because they must be available for CBP inspection.
Gifts Sent by Mail
Persons in the United States may receive free of duty a gift mailed from a foreign country, or from a Caribbean Basin beneficiary country, if the shipment does not exceed $100 in fair retail value. If the gift is sent from the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam, the duty-free exemption rises to $200. You may send as many gifts as you wish, but the U.S. recipient will have to pay duty if the gift parcels received in one day total more than $100 (or $200) in fair retail value. Gifts that exceed these amounts will be subject to duty based upon their entire value.

Please see the comprehensive information the U.S. Customs provides on their website, please see below the WebLink for Visitors.
See also our next page with information regarding "Agricultural Products".

U.S. Citizens / Residents (LPR's)

The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is $800, but there are some exceptions to this rule, which are explained below.
Depending on the countries you have visited, your personal exemption will be $200, $600, $800, or $1,200. There are limits on the amount of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products you may include in your duty-free personal exemption.

Since it depends strongly on where you traveled you should read the comprehensive information the U.S. Customs provides on their website, please see below the WebLink for U.S. Citizens.
See also our next page with information regarding "Agricultural Products".


  General Quick Tips

Duty-Free Goods
Goods purchased in duty-free stores are subject to U.S. duty.
Buying an item in a duty-free shop does not mean that you will not have to pay duty on the item when you take it into your destination country. The respective country's Tax Expemtion Rules/Laws apply, e.g. a country could allow you to bring 200 cigarettes and 1 liter of alcohol. But this depends on the country.

Cuban Cigars
Don't attempt to return with Cuban cigars unless they were purchased in Cuba (on authorized travel).

If you're traveling with prescription medicine, carry them in their original containers and bring a copy of your prescription.

If you buy medications abroad, be aware that they may not be FDA-approved or allowed into the United States.

Shopkeeper's Advice
Don't rely on friends and shopkeepers for advice on what items "will clear Customs"; instead, obtain this information directly from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Search Authority
By law, CBP officers have the authority to search anyone and anything entering the United States. Keep in mind, you are not officially in the United States until after you clear immigration and customs.
  Please regard the WebLink to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on this page, right column. The sites offers information regarding all the involved issues and provides further WebLinks to other departments!

Document Information
Source: Source of all information is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection; rev. 2004-Dec-15
Last modified: 20041215
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