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US Customs

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Oct 20th, 2013, 12:22 AM
  #1
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US Customs

I'll be returning from Italy in the next few days and was wondering how US Customs works. We bought a lot of little gifts, nothing of significant value. Do we declare it all. Are there limits, etc.
sandymel is offline  
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Oct 20th, 2013, 02:46 AM
  #2
 
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You should read the rules.

http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/...egulations.pdf

You can lump everything together on one line and call it misc souvenirs. Of course there's a limit - $800 per person (but there are restrictions on the $800 limit).
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Oct 20th, 2013, 02:48 AM
  #3
 
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You are required by law to declare it all.

The customs form does not give much room to list stuff so what I do is lump the stuff together by category: souvenirs (which should cover 90% of your stuff), beer, books, jewelry, etc.

More often than not, you will just be waved through anyway since you're small potatoes compared to importers with diamonds, watches, antiques, etc. and you're not worth the effort for Customs to write up paperwork to charge you $20 for your stuff.

I once came into PHL with 20-odd beers, 4 or so bottles of mead, and some schanpps. I declared it all and was prepared to pay an import duty on it and so when I went into the customs line and when I told then what I had, I was surprised that they just waved me through. My experience is not unique.

Just don'T come back with anything verboten.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 05:57 AM
  #4
J62
 
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I disagree with adrienne. There are not limits to what you can import into the US. The $800 number is for duty free.

I agree that you do not need to state every purchase - simply write 'gifts' and the total $ value on the customs form.

The US customs can't be bothered to collect duty (aka import tax) on small value items. The duty for alcohol is something like $0.35 per bottle of wine, smaller than small potatoes.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:04 AM
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Well I meant duty free.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:16 AM
  #6
 
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There are limits on what you can bring into the US. You cannot bring certain food products, etc no matter how small the amount of money.

I can tell you from experience, if it is a slow day and depending on their mood in customs and you put "gifts", they may ask for receipts or check your luggage. Normally, they don't. We still do it, but just be aware.

One suggestion is to separate all of your receipts. Carry the receipts for the things you are claiming in an easily accessible place.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:18 AM
  #7
 
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Writing Miscellaneous souvenirs or gifts and a single number is fine - as long as the total is not more than $800 times the number of people in your party
.
They are interested really only in individual large value items - a $3K designer purse, very expensive watch or similar - or items which are not allowed (into the US, such as many foods, or out of the country you are returning from - such as antiques or valuable artwork).

And do be aware that sniffer dogs will find any forbidden foods - or drugs are reckless enough.f you
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Oct 20th, 2013, 07:35 AM
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When I come through, I do write some individual items and then will lump the rest under souvenirs. I also make sure I am not over the allowed dollar amount but truth be told, I only estimate how much my items are. I have no idea of what the true costs are although I could figure it out but I really don't care to. I also mail packages home which do not have to be declared. I have yet to be stopped to explain what I am bringing in. If you do write food on the form, you will be stopped. My brother did this instead of writing shortbread. As soon as they saw it was cookies, they just let him through. They thought he had vegetables and fruit.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 09:48 AM
  #9
 
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They also confiscated 2 packets of my (declared) tomato seeds, as seeds need some sort of purity certificate.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 10:53 AM
  #10
 
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To bring seeds into the US You need to buy ones that are specially packaged (they are somehow treated before packaging).

I brought my dad back a bunch of flower seeds and bulbs from Holland - but marked for import to the US and customs did check the packaging.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 11:08 AM
  #11
 
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My supposedly USA approved tulip bulbs from the Netherlands were confiscated at JFK so be careful with agricultural and food products. Almost had to give up my Greek honey at JFK too.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 12:05 AM
  #12
 
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They also confiscated 2 packets of my (declared) tomato seeds, as seeds need some sort of purity certificate.

Coming into the U.S.?
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Oct 21st, 2013, 12:13 AM
  #13
 
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sparky
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Oct 21st, 2013, 01:19 AM
  #14
 
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I just find it amusing that the U.S., home of all sorts of Franken seeds and ill-conceived genetic-engineering experiments would require a purity label on seeds.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 01:39 AM
  #15
 
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I fully understand LOL
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Oct 21st, 2013, 12:42 PM
  #16
 
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There are animal and plant diseases in the EU that we don't have and don;t want. So nothing that has been in the soil unless - I believe - irradiated. The same reason they want to know if you have been to a farm (helped prevent our getting the hoof and mouth there was in europe).

And those little sniffer beagles can find anything.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 01:37 PM
  #17
 
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I always write candy, not food. I always have the liquor and have written down the amount just in case but have never been stopped. DON'T whip out your cell phone until you are done picking up your baggage and through customs.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 01:39 PM
  #18
 
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Well, they never found my undeclared seeds. And neither did anyone else.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 04:46 PM
  #19
 
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Yes, the seeds were from Italy and the good ol' US of A did not let me keep them. I wanted to see if real San Marzano tomatoes had the same flavor when grown here as they do in Italy. I did find out that diversion on my inspection to the agriculture guy avoided all other investigation of my other items.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 05:33 PM
  #20
 
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If you, like me, do not buy much, you just write that you have maybe $250 in souvenirs on the form and that's that. I bought a lot more when I was younger, but my house is full and the most I buy now is a piece of inexpensive artisanal jewelry. Saves a lot of trouble at customs not to have much with me.

There was this trip to Italy years ago where I spent more on "stuff" than I did on the trip:

http://altecockertravels.weebly.com/...taly-oops.html

I never did that again.
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