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General Rules on Returning Residents


Duty Exemptions for Household and Personal Effects
You may import furniture, dishes, linens, libraries, artwork and similar household furnishings for your personal use free of duty.  To be eligible for duty-free exemption, the articles must have either been available for your use or used in a household where you were a resident for one year.  The year of use does not need to be continuous, nor does it need to be the year immediately before the date of importation.  Personal and household effects entitled to duty-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 you choose. Your shipment of personal and/or household goods must be cleared through Customs at its first port of arrival, unless you have made arrangements with a foreign freight forwarder to have your effects sent in Customs custody in-bond from the port of arrival to a more convenient port of entry for clearance. (Ask your moving company if they offer this service.)  Customs will not notify you that your goods have arrived.  It is essential that the carrier notify you that your goods have arrived in port – otherwise after 15 days, they will be taken to a general order warehouse and may be sold at auction after six months. If merchandise is placed in a general order warehouse, storage charges will accrue and payment of those charges is the responsibility of the party importing the household goods. When you come to Customs to enter your goods, you must complete Customs Form 3299, “Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles,” to give to the Customs officer.  If you cannot come to the Customs office yourself, you may designate a friend or relative to represent you in Customs matters.  You must give 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 to clear your shipment through Customs. Other option is to designate a license customs broker to do the filing on your behalf (the form 3299 will still be needed).

Professional Equipment/Tools of Trade
If your professional equipment or tools of trade were acquired abroad they are not entitled to duty-free consideration unless they were in your possession for one year prior to your return to the United States.  If they were in your possession when you moved abroad, and are being brought back in connection with your return to the U.S. they are exempt from duty.

Liquor, Tobacco
You may bring in one liter of alcoholic beverages, free of duty and internal revenue tax, if you are at least 21 years of age, it is for your own use or for a gift, and it is not in violation of the laws of the state in which you arrive.  Alcoholic beverages beyond the one-liter limitation are subject to duty and Internal Revenue tax.

Up to 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes (one carton) may be included in your exemption.  Tobacco products of Cuban origin are prohibited unless acquired in Cuba by persons authorized by the State Department to travel to Cuba.

Firearms and ammunition
Firearms and ammunition previously taken out of, and returned to, the United States by the same person may be released upon presentation to U.S. Customs of adequate proof of prior possession, i.e., bill of sale, household goods inventory showing serial number, Customs Forms 4455 or 4457.

Gifts
Bona fide gifts may be mailed to friends and relatives in the U.S. free of duty and tax as long as the same person does not receive more than $100 (or $200 if from American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guam) in gift shipments per day.  If you are bringing gifts with you, the exemption is $800 in merchandise acquired abroad; $600 from Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act countries; or $1200 from American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guam. The exemption includes both gifts and other items for personal use. Gifts must be included in the declaration of the donor when he returns to the United States.  Gifts are not considered as part of household and personal effects. Alcoholic beverages, cigars, and cigarettes are not included in this exemption from duty.

Gifts that exceed the $100 or $200 retail value will be subject to customs duty based on the entire value of the gift or gifts. There is no exemption.
 


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