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Your declaration

Customs declarations forms 6059B are distributed on vessels and planes and are available in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Fill out your declaration well in advance of arrival in order to expedite your Customs/Immigration clearance. You must complete the information requested on the front side of the declaration. You need not itemize the things you brought if they are within the exemptions afforded arriving nonresidents. You will declare these articles orally at the time of your Customs inspection. The flight attendant or steward should be able to advise you if a written declaration is required.

Persons arriving by land transportation will make an oral declaration if all the articles brought with them are within the allowed exemptions.

Written Declaration

In making a written declaration, everything brought with you must be listed with its 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, toilet articles, and similar personal effects owned by you abroad and intended for your own use.

The purchase price of articles may be given in the currency of the country of purchase. If you don't know the price, say so. If the article was a gift, state the fair value in the country where it was acquired. Misinformation can result in delays and penalties.

Articles imported in excess of your exemption are subject to duty and tax. The Customs inspector may reduce the value of a dutiable article which has been used of womb.

Family Declaration

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

Your exemptions

In clearing U. S. Customs, a traveler is considered either a returning resident of the United States or a nonresident. Nonresident status also applies to:

  • persons immigrating to the United States
  • children born abroad who have never resided in the United States; and
  • persons who left the United States after establishing residency with no intention of reestablishing U. S. residency.

U. S. residents stationed or working abroad may also claim nonresident status when returning to the U. S. for a short visit, provided all articles, except gifts and items consumed during their visit, are ex-ported upon leaving the U. S.

Articles brought into the United States are subject to applicable duty and internal revenue tax unless they are prohibited entry, but as a visitor or nonresident you are allowed certain exemptions and privileges.

Personal Effects

Wearing apparel, jewelry, toilet articles, hunting and fishing equipment, and similar personal effects are exempt from duty if they are for personal use, are owned by you, and accompany you to the United States.

Jewelry or similar articles of personal adornment valued at $300 or more and passed free of duty under your personal customs exemption cannot be sold within 3 years, unless duty is paid to a District Director of Customs. The duty must be paid before the sale is completed or the articles become subject to seizure.

Alcoholic Beverages

Adult nonresidents may bring in, free of duty and internal revenue tax, not more than one liter of alcoholic beverages - beer, wine, liquor for personal use. Quantities above the one-liter limitation are subject to duty and internal revenue tax.

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

United States postal laws prohibit shipping of alcoholic beverages by mail.

Cigars and Cigarettes

You may include in your personal exemption not more than 200 cigarettes (one carton), 50 cigars, or 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs.) of smoking tobacco, or proportionate amounts of each. An additional quantity of 100 cigars may be brought in under your gift exemption.


You may temporarily import an automobile, trailer, airplane, motorcycle, boat, or similar vehicle for the transportation of yourself, your family, and your guests.

Motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment for personal use may be imported for a period of one year or less. The vehicle must be imported in connection with your arrival and be owned by you or on order prior to your departure.

A vehicle not complying with the Federal laws discussed in this paragraph cannot be sold in the United States. The law governing motor vehicle safety applies to all vehicles, other than motorcycles, if their date of entry is less than 25 years after their date of manufacture, and motorcycles manufactured after January 1, 1969. Another Federal law requires that vehicles, beginning with the 1968 model year, and motorcycles manufactured after December 31, 1977, meet all air pollution control standards. Federal cost savings standards, which became effective in September 1978 and which have a bearing on imported vehicles, must also be complied with. An exemption to these standards has been made for nonresident visitors to the United States, provided that the vehicle is imported for a period not to exceed one year, and the vehicle is for personal use.

If you plan to emigrate to the United States and import a car permanently, you should obtain a copy of our pamphlet Importing a Car.

Household Effects

You may import furniture, carpets, dishes, linens, libraries, pictures and similar household furnishings free of duty. The articles must have been either available for your use for at least one year or used in a household where you were a resident member for one year. The year of use need not be continuous nor does it need to be the year immediately preceding the date of importation.

Household effects meeting the above requirements may be entered within a 10-year period after your last arrival in the United States from the country where the effects were used abroad.

Antiques are free of duty if produced 100 years prior to date of entry. If they are not part of your personal or household effects, you should have proof or evidence of antiquity.

Household effects may not be entered under your duty-free exemption if they are for another person or for sale.

Professional Equipment

A person emigrating to the United States may enter free of duty professional equipment which was owned and used abroad; for example, professional books and tools of trade, occupation, or employment Theatrical scenery, properties, or apparel and articles for use in any manufacturing establishment are not considered professional equipment.

Every effort has been made to indicate essential requirements; however, all regulations of Customs and other agencies cannot be covered in full and regulations and requirements are subject to change.


Gift Exemption

As a nonresident, you may claim up to $100 worth of merchandise, free of duty and internal revenue tax, as gifts for other people. To claim this exemption, however, 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 6 months. You may include 100 cigars within this gift exemption. Alcoholic beverages may not be included.

Do not have your articles gift-wrapped because they must be available for customs inspection.

If you are not entitled to the $100 gift exemption, you may bring in up to $25 worth of merchandise free of duty for your personal or household use. You may include any of the following 50 cigarettes, 100 cigars, 150 milliliters of alcoholic beverages, or 150 milliliters of alcoholic perfume or equivalent amounts. If you exceed any of these limitations, or if the total value of all dutiable articles exceeds $25, no exemption can be applied.

Articles bought in so-called duty-free shops in foreign countries are subject to U. S. Customs duty and restrictions if they exceed your exemption.

Wedding Gifts

No specific exemption from customs duty is allowed a nonresident for wedding gifts. A U. S. resident going to another country to be married to a person of that country (and the couple plans to return to the United States to reside) may bring back free of duty wedding gifts sent from the United States if they can be identified as the same gifts that were sent. If a returning resident is entitled to the personal exemption of $400 (or $600 if returning from a Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act beneficiary country [these countries are listed below], or $1200 if returning from the U. S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam), part or all of it may be applied to gifts not of United States origin.

Gifts Sent by Mail

Upon its retail value, or $100 if sent from the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam. You may send as many gifts as you wish, but the United States addressee will be required to pay duty if gift Persons in the United States may receive, free of duty, a gift mailed from a foreign country or a Caribbean Basin beneficiary country if the shipment does not exceed $50 based parcels received in one day total more than $50 (or $100). Gifts that exceed these amounts will be subject to customs duty based on the entire value. There is no $50 (or $100) deduction.

Packages should be marked "Unsolicited Gift," with the name of the donor, nature of the gift, and fair retail value of the package clearly written on the outside wrapper.

Alcoholic beverages, cigars, cigarettes, and per-fumes containing alcohol may not be included within this gift privilege.

Gift packages sent from a foreign country should not be declared by you to Customs on your arrival in the United States.

Other articles free of duty or dutiable.

In Transit

A nonresident in transit through the United States may have dutiable articles not exceeding $200 in value, including not more than 4 liters of alcoholic beverages without payment of duties if the articles will be taken by the nonresident to a place outside the Customs territory of the United States.

On some airlines, checked baggage in transit through the United States by air may be left in the custody of the arriving airline if the passenger so elects. The airline will then forward the baggage directly to the port of departure. Such baggage need not undergo a Customs examination; however, its owner may not claim it while in the United States until it has under-gone Customs inspection. However, Customs reserves the right to inspect all baggage entering the United States. You should ask your airline if this service is available before your departure to the United States.

Articles Free of Duty Under GSP

Under the U. S. Generalized System of Preferences certain items from beneficiary developing countries have been designated as eligible for duty-free treatment An advisory list of the most popular tourist items which have been accorded GSP status may be obtained from U. S. Customs.

Articles Subject to Duty

Articles imported which cannot be claimed under the exemptions allowed are subject to applicable duty and tax. After deducting your exemptions and the value of any duty-free articles, a flat rate of duty of 10 percent will be applied to the next $1,000 worth (fair retail value) of merchandise. Any dollar amount of an article or articles over this $1,000 will be dutiable at various rates of duty.

Articles to which the flat rate of duty is applied must be for your personal use or for use as gifts. You cannot receive this flat-rate provision more than once every 30 days, excluding the day of your last arrival.

The 10 per cent flat rate of duty is based upon fair retail value in the country of acquisition, including Communist and Caribbean Basin beneficiary countries (See below), and the articles must accompany you.

The flat rate of duty is five percent for articles acquired in the U. S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam, whether the articles accompany you or are shipped directly from these islands into the U. S. There are certain procedures to follow, however, for goods shipped in order to qualify under this provision.

Members of a family residing in one household traveling together to the United States will group articles for application of the flat duty rate without regard as to which member of the family may be the owner of the articles.

Caribbean Basin Beneficiary Countries

The following countries and territories are designated as beneficiary countries under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Saint Christopher and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Virgin Islands, British


Shipping Hints

Personal and household effects entitled to free entry need not accompany you to the United States. You may have them shipped to your U.S. address at a later time if it is more convenient.

A shipment of personal and/or household effects arriving in the United States must be cleared through Customs at the first port of arrival. If this is inconvenient, you may make arrangements with a freight forwarder in the country of departure to have the articles sent in Customs custody (in-bond) from tile port of arrival to another Customs port of entry closer to you for clearance. You are required to execute Customs from 3299, Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles, for presentation to the examining Customs officer when the shipment is cleared through Customs. This form for free entry of these articles is not valid until you arrive in the United States.

It is not necessary to employ a customs broker to clear your shipment through Customs. You may do this yourself after you arrive in the United States, or you may designate a relative or friend to represent you in Customs matters. If you choose a broker, friend, or relative, you must furnish that person a letter, addressed to "Officer in Charge of Customs," authorizing that individual to represent you as your agent on a one-time basis in the Customs clearance of your shipment

AU shipments must be cleared through Customs within five working days after arrival in the United States. If a shipment is not cleared within that time, it is sent, at your risk and expense, to a warehouse for storage until Customs clearance can be made.

Prohibited and Restricted articles

Because Customs inspectors are stationed at ports of entry and along our land and sea borders, they are often called upon to enforce laws and requirements of other U. S. Government agencies. This is done to protect community health, preserve domestic plant and animal life, and for other reasons.

Prohibited merchandise will be seized, and you may be liable for a personal penalty. Restricted mer?chandise must be inspected by the agency that imposed the restrictions (for example, the Environ-mental Protection Agency or the Food and Drug Administration). Only then will it be released; how-ever, it may be detained until conditions attached to the restrictions are met, for example, making automotive modifications required to meet U. S. safety standards or obtaining certain inoculations for pets. You will be given a receipt for any articles that Customs detains.

Among articles prohibited are absinthe, liquor-filled candy, lottery tickets, narcotics and dangerous drugs, obscene articles and publications, seditious and treasonable materials, hazardous articles (e.g., fireworks, dangerous toys, toxic or poisonous sub-stances), products made by convicts or forced labor, and switchblade knives (except for use by a one-armed traveler).

Biological Materials

Unsterilized specimens of human and animal tissue (including blood, body discharges and excretions);

Cltures of living bacteria, viruses or similar organ-isms; animals suspected of being infected with a disease transmissible to humans; and insects, snails and bats may require an import permit from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Write to the Office of Health and Safety, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (F-05), 1600 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta, GA 30333.

Biological materials produced from animals or animal products may require an additional permit from the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Please write to the Import-Export Products staff, APHIS, VS, Federal Building, 6505 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782, for details and application for a permit

Books, Records, Computer Programs and Cassettes

"Piratical" copies of copyrighted articles?pro?duced without the authorization of the copyright owner?are prohibited from importation into the United States. Piratical copies will be seized and destroyed unless the importer can demonstrate that he had no reasonable grounds for believing that they violated the law, in which case they may be returned to the country of export. Cultural Property

An export certificate may be required by certain Latin American countries in order to import pre-Columbian artifacts, monumental and architectural sculpture, or murals, whether they are shipped directly or indirectly from the country of origin into the United States.

Firearms and Ammunition

Firearms and ammunition intended for legitimate hunting or lawful sporting purposes may be brought into the United States provided you take the firearms and any remaining unfired ammunition out of the United States when you depart.

AU other firearms and ammunition are subject to restrictions and import permits. Fully automatic weapons and semi-automatic "assault" type weapons are prohibited. For complete information, write: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Department of the Treasury, Firearms and Explosives Import Branch, Washington, D.C. 20226, U.S.A.

Food Products

Bakery items and all cured cheeses are admissible. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service leaflet, Traveler's Tips, provides detailed information on bringing food, plant, and animal products into this country. Imported foods are also subject to requirements of the Food and Drug Administration.

Fruits, Vegetables, Plants

Many fruits, vegetables, plants, cuttings, seeds, unprocessed plant products, and certain endangered plant species are either prohibited from entering the country or require an import permit Endangered or threatened species of plants and plant products, if not prohibited from being imported, will require an export permit from the country of origin. Every single plant, plant product, fruit, or vegetable must be declared to the Customs officer and must be presented for inspection no matter how free of pests it appears to be. Most canned or processed items are admissible.

Applications for import permits or requests for information should be addressed to: Quarantines, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, Federal Bldg., Hyattsville, MD 20782, U.S.A.

Hunting Trophies

Hunting trophies and hides must be shipped to a U. S. Department of Agriculture-approved taxidermy for processing.

Meats, Livestock, Poultry

Meats, livestock, poultry and their by-products (such as sausage, pate), are either prohibited or re stricted from entering the United States, depending upon the animal disease condition in the country of origin. Fresh meat is generally prohibited from most countries. Canned meat is permitted if the inspector can determine that it is commercially canned, cooked in the container, hermetically sealed, and can be kept without refrigeration. Other canned, cured, or dried meat is severely restricted from most countries.

AU prohibited importations will be seized and destroyed unless the importer returns them immediately to their country of origin.

You should contact Import-Export Products Staff, APHIS, VS, Federal Building, 6505 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782, for detailed requirements.


Narcotics and dangerous drugs are prohibited entry. There are severe penalties if imported.

A traveler requiring medicines containing habit-forming drugs or narcotics (e.g., cough medicine, diuretics, heart drugs, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, depressants, stimulants, etc.) should:

  • have all drugs, medicines, and similar products properly identified;

  • carry only the quantity that might normally be used by an individual having a health problem requiring such drugs or medicine;

  • have either a prescription or written statement from your personal physician that the medicine is being used under a doctors direction and is necessary for your physical well-being while traveling.

 Merchandise Controlled

The importation of merchandise or goods that contain components from the following countries is generally prohibited under regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control: Cuba, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Vietnam and Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). This list is subject to change with the world political climate and U. S. national security concerns.

These proscriptions do not apply to informational materials such as pamphlets, books, tapes, films, or recordings.

Specific licenses are required to bring prohibited merchandise into the United States, but they are rarely granted. Foreign visitors to the United States may, however, be permitted to bring in small articles for personal use as accompanied baggage, depending upon the goods' country of origin.

Travelers should be aware of certain travel restrictions that may apply to these countries. Because of the strict enforcement of these prohibitions, those anticipating foreign travel to any of the countries listed above would do well to write in advance to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C. 20220, U.S.A.


There is no limit on the total amount of monetary instruments that may be brought into or taken out of the United States, nor is it illegal to do so. However, if you transport or cause to be transported (including by mail or other means), more than $10,000 in monetary instruments on any occasion into or out of the United States, or if you receive more than that amount, you must file a report (Customs form 4790) with U. S. Customs (Currency and Foreign Trans-actions Reporting Act, 31 U.S.C. 1101, et seq.). Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal penalties, including seizure of the currency or monetary instruments. Monetary instruments include U. S. or foreign coin, currency, traveler's checks, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.


There are controls, restrictions, and prohibitions on entry of animals, birds, turtles, wildlife, and endangered species. Cats and dogs must be free of evidence of diseases communicable to man. Vaccination against rabies is not required for cats or dogs arriving from rabies-free countries. Personally-owned pet birds may be entered (limit of two from the Psittacine family), but APHIS and Public Health Service requirements must be met, including quarantine at any APHIS facility at specified locations, at the owners expense. Advance reservations are required. Non-human primates, such as monkeys, apes and similar animals, may not be imported. If you plan to bring your pet with you, obtain a copy of our leaflet, Pets, Wildlife, U. S. Customs. You should also check with state, county, and local authorities about their restrictions or prohibitions on bringing in pets.

Trademarked Articles

Foreign-made trademarked articles may be limited as to the quantity which may be brought into the United States if the American owner of the registered trademark has recorded it with U. S. Customs.

The types of articles usually of interest to travelers are:

1) lenses, cameras, binoculars, optical goods;

2) tape recorders, musical instruments;

3) jewelry, precious metalware;

4) perfumery;

5) watches, clocks.

Persons arriving in the United States with a trademarked article are allowed an exemption, usually one article of a type bearing a protected trademark. An exempted trademarked article must accompany you and you can claim this exemption for the same type of article only once each 30 days. The article must be for your personal use and not for sale. If an exempted article is sold within one year following importation, the article or its value is subject to forfeiture.

If the trademark owner allows a quantity in excess of the above exemption for its particular trademarked article, the total of those trademarked articles authorized may be entered.

Wildlife and Fish

Wildlife and fish are subject to certain import and export restrictions, prohibitions, permits or certificates, and quarantine requirements. This includes:

  • wild birds, mammals including marine mammals, reptiles, crustaceans, fish, and mollusks;

  • any part or product, such as skins, feathers, eggs, and

  • Products and articles manufactured from wildlife and fish.

Endangered species of wildlife and products made from them are prohibited from being imported or exported. All ivory and ivory products except antiques made from African elephant ivory are prohibited. Ivory antiques may be imported pro-vided they can be documented as being at least 100 years old

If you contemplate importing articles made from wildlife, such as tortoise shell jewelry, leather goods, articles made from whalebone, ivory, skins, or furs, please contact, prior to your departure to the United States, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Department of the Interior, Washington, D,C. XK40, U.S. Ask for their pamphlet "Fish and Wildlife."

Federal regulations do not authorize the importation of any wildlife or fish into any state of the United States if the State laws or regulations are more restrictive than any applicable Federal treatment. Wild mammals or birds taken, killed, sold, possessed, or exported to the United States in violation of any foreign laws are not allowed entry into the United States.