Used Household Goods and Personal Effects
IAM Note: American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Baker Island, Howland Islands, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Palmyra, and Wake Island are all territories / possessions of the United States and as such are subject to the importation rules of the United States. They may have additional requirements to import into each territory as each one has a delicate ecosystem they are trying to protect.
An individual is generally considered a bona fide resident of a territory / possession if he or she is physically present in the territory for 183 days during the taxable year, does not have a tax home outside the territory during the tax year, and does not have a closer connection to the U.S. or a foreign country. However, U.S. citizens and resident aliens are permitted certain exceptions to the 183-day rule.
- Copy of passport (signature and picture page)
- Form CF-3299
- Supplemental declaration (required by most ports)
- Detailed inventory in English, signed by the owner of the goods
- Copy of visa (if non-US citizen / permanent resident) / copy of permanent resident card
- I-94 stamp / card
- Letter of employment
- Original of bill of lading (OBL) / copy of telex release / air waybill (AWB)
- Form DS-1504 (diplomats)
- A-1 visa (diplomats)
- Importers security filing (ISF)
- The owner of the goods does not need to be present for Customs clearance.
- Some ports require passports for all family members listed on the 3299.
- Do not indicate packed by owner (PBO) or miscellaneous descriptions on the detailed inventory.
- The I-94 is an arrival stamp / card in the passport of all foreigners that indicates the length of time they have been admitted into the USA (some ports require a copy of the card).
- All accompanied baggage and containers are subject to inspection by Customs officials upon arrival.
- All foreign diplomats (A-1 visa types) are required to be processed via the Department of State on a DS-1504 form, which is submitted to the Department of State by the Consulate / embassy of the diplomat at least 10 days prior to arrival of the shipment.
- Brokers are not allowed to clear Customs on CF-3299 entries for foreign diplomats holding an A-1 visa.
- The owner of the goods will be charged 4% of the value of the household goods or a vehicle included in the shipment plus the cost of the ocean freight if owned for less than 90 days.
- If Customs holds any shipment for a physical exam prior to a full release, a fee of USD 75.00 per hour for loose loaded shipments or USD 50.00 per crate for liftvan loaded shipments will be assessed and billed accordingly.
- For duty-free clearance, the household goods must have been used at least 12 months in the foreign household prior to shipment from the origin country.
- The owner of the goods must hold the proper long-term visa (non-B1 / B2 visitor’s visa) to import household goods duty free.
- The owner of the goods can only import personal effects, e.g., clothing, camping gear, toiletries, etc. on a short-term visitor’s visa.
- It is important for agents in the origin country to make sure the ISF is timely filed prior to the sailing of the vessel from the last foreign port for all ocean shipments to avoid penalties.
- Customs and other government agencies can require a variety of different types of examinations that result in costs from USD 200-1700 or more on a full container load (FCL) shipment.
- Most household items used less than 12 months will require duty to be paid.
- It is important for the owner of the goods to list those items in detail on the back side of the Customs Form 3299.
- The owner of the goods should list the item, quantity, what material it is made out of, the value paid for the items in U.S. dollars, and the country of origin of the items.
- Copy of passport (signature and picture page)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Form EPA-3520-21, if applicable
- OBL (foreign purchased vehicles) / copy of telex release
- Bill of sale / pro-forma invoice with statement of value (foreign purchased vehicles)
- Title of ownership translated into English (foreign purchased vehicles) / authorization from lien holder
- Department of Transportation (DOT) Form HS-7
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Form 3520-1 (foreign purchased vehicles)
- Proof of conformity by either:
- USA title / registration
- Letter of conformity from the manufacturer
- Foreign military sales contract that indicates vehicle meets USA-EPA / DOT regulations
- Exemption as a 25 model year old vehicle as proven by the title
- Copy of USA title or registration when previously registered in the USA (vehicles previously owned and shipped from the USA by the returning owner of the goods)
- Completed EPA-3520-1, DOT, HS-7 and Customs 7501 forms (vehicles previously owned and shipped from the USA by the returning owner of the goods)
- Letter of permission from the EPA (non-residents importing vehicles as a tourist)
- Copy of insurance card
- Vehicle condition report from origin country
- Temporary vehicle permit
- Insurance certificate
- Letter of compliance from manufacturer (must state that the vehicle meets U.S. emission and Department of Transportation (DOT) standards
- Driver’s license
- Letter of employment
- The owner of the goods must be present for Customs clearance and the arrival of the vehicle, as a temporary vehicle permit from a local DMV is required prior to clearance.
- For vehicles previously owned and shipped from the USA by the returning owner of the goods, the names of the owner of the goods must match with the consignee of the shipment on the vehicle title and registration.
- Motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, ATV’s, water craft, 4-wheel vehicles, trailers, etc., will be held in a certified CFS for inspection by Customs prior to release.
- A fee of USD 1.00 per cube will be assessed by the CFS terminal to the carrier to the transportation service provider (TSP).
- The owner of the goods will be charged 4% of the value of the vehicle included in the shipment plus the cost of the ocean freight if owned for less than 90 days.
- A non-USA resident can import a vehicle for a period of up to 12 months as a tourist, but no extension will be allowed.
- The owner of the goods is required to obtain a permission letter prior to shipping the vehicle from the EPA.
- If the vehicle has been owned for less than 90 days, the owner of the goods must be in Guam upon vehicle arrival.
- Vehicles imported by non-residents for tourism may not sell or offer vehicle for sale and it must be exported prior to the 12 month period or is subject to seizure and penalties by Customs.
- Some ports of entry (POE) require a bond for up to three times the value of the vehicle to ensure the timely export of the vehicle.
- Additional port specific declarations may be required for this temporary importation.
- A bill of sale or pro-forma invoice with the statement of value must include the vehicle’s description, vehicle identification number (VIN), model and year of manufacture.
- In general vehicles that are 25 model years old and with the original drive train are exempt from EPA / DOT regulations.
- Vehicles less than 25 model years old that were not previously titled in the USA must comply with EPA / DOT regulations.
- The cost and time to bring a vehicle into compliance by an ICI (certified conversion shop) make the process an unwise economic decision in most cases.
- It is strongly recommended not to import non-complying vehicles.
- In the event an owner of the goods elects to attempt to import a vehicle it should be sent separately from household goods and personal effects shipments to avoid delays in the receipt of the shipment.
- The first 4,000 lbs. of sea cargo, to include a vehicle, will be assessed as follows:
- USD 75.00 fee for domestic shipments
- USD 125.00 for international shipments
- USD 00.0012 fee for every pound thereafter.
- The owner of the goods must make arrangements with an ICI shop in the USA prior to shipping the vehicle in order to get an estimate and to determine if the vehicle can be brought into compliance.
Marine engines and gas-powered generators are also subject to EPA requirements
and Form EPA-3520-21 is normally required for those items.
- All vehicles imported to Guam are required to go through an X-Ray exam.
- Rabies vaccination record
- Veterinary health certificate
- Import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture
- The importation of pets is subject to health, quarantine, agriculture or wildlife requirements and prohibitions.
- Pets are subject to examination at the first port of arrival for any evidence of disease.
- A valid rabies (rage) vaccination record must accompany dogs arriving from areas not free from rabies.
- There is no requirement for a rabies certificate for domestic cats.
- The import permit must state that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies and in good health.
- Check with the USA agent for any special certificates and admission requirements required, providing the common and scientific name of the animal along with the country of origin that it is being shipped to ensure all appropriate government agencies can be contacted.
- Most turtles and monkeys are not allowed entry into the USA.
Antiques, Artifacts, Carpets, Paintings
- Purchase invoice
- Detailed inventory
- U.S. Customs requires items to be at least 100 years old be classified as antiques.
- A recently purchased antique should indicate the circa date on the invoice.
- Antiques are duty free.
- Carpets of Iranian origin that have been used in the foreign household for at least 12 months and being imported with the owner of the goods’ household goods and personal effects shipment are generally approved for import.
- It is recommended that if you have a large number of carpets or they are new that you do not ship to the U.S., as the U.S. currently has an embargo on Iranian origin goods, subject to change at any time.
- Paintings of nominal value can be shipped with household goods shipments.
- Artifacts of any type should not be shipped without first checking with the USA agent and the country of export, as different regulations may apply depending on the country of origin, type of artifact and circa date.
- Additionally, many countries are parties to CITES Treaties or Acts that don’t allow the import or export of certain types of artifacts or require permits that must be issued prior to export.
- Meats and meat byproducts, e.g., bouillon soups (an import permit and inspection by a qualified veterinary doctors from the Ministry of Agriculture / Public Health Services of the Ministry of Health are required upon entry)
- Livestock (an import permit is required; animals imported from a country infected by rabies will be quarantined for 90 days prior to entry)
- Game and hunting trophies
- Merchandise from embargoed countries (a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control is required)
- Textiles and clothing
- Beauty and makeup products (an import permit is required)
- Gifts (up to USD 100 permitted)
- Jewelry (should not be included with the household goods and should accompany the owner of the goods upon on arrival)
- The import of medications is strongly discouraged.
- Medications must be supported by prescription or a physician’s statement and properly identified.
- Only reasonable quantities for personal use may be imported.
- Medications should not be included in the household goods shipments and should accompany the owner of the goods upon arrival.
- Medicines listed under Schedule I, II and III of the Controlled Substance Act are generally prohibited entry.
- Severe penalties may be imposed if medications are imported contrary to law.
- The import of alcohol is strongly discouraged and is governed by both federal and state laws.
- In general the federal government allows a reasonable amount of alcohol to be imported in a household goods shipment.
- If Customs feels the amount is excessive they will require the importer to hire a licensed alcohol importer to file a commercial entry.
- When shipping domestically, owners of the goods and the agents shipping the goods should comply with the residence state laws which vary from state to state.
- Some states allow no alcohol imports while others require the importer to obtain a permit and pay a fee and still others allow a reasonable amount.
- Each state has regulations and must be consulted before making a shipment.
- A detailed inventory must be made at the time of packing in order for food and drug filings to be performed and proper duties and taxes to be paid on the shipment.
- For free import, persons over 21 years old and older may enter with a maximum of 1 gallon or 3.8 liters per person.
- Amounts in excess of the exemption must pay a 4% duty based on the value of the alcohol + cost of the ocean freight of the entire shipment
- Alcohol should not be considered for importing.
- An owner of the goods may qualify for free import if within the limits indicated:
- Cigarettes 200
- Cigars (gifts of USD 100 may be added above) 50 (no more than USD 150 total)
- Tobacco 2000 g
- Proportionate amounts of the items listed
- Fish / Wildlife:
- Ivory items, skins, feathers and shells are regulated by Fish and Wildlife.
- Many of these items require special CITES Permits or may be prohibited from being imported.
- It is critical for the origin agent to consult with the USA agent to determine if an item requires a permit or can be legally imported.
- The permits cannot be issued once the shipment has left the origin country.
- The destination agent will need to know the common, scientific names and country of origin to determine if a permit is required.
- The import of firearms is strongly discouraged.
- Shipments containing firearms are required to be held in a certified Container Freight Station (CFS) by Customs prior to release.
- A fee of USD 1.00 per cube will be assessed for the entire shipment and billed by the CFS terminal to the carrier or TSP.
- A bill of sale and firearms registration / license must be included with the import documentation.
- An import permit is required for the import of weapons and ammunition.
- A list of all firearms with serials and supporting documents must be included with the import documentation.
- An owner of the goods may import up to four legally authorized firearms for personal use.
- Firearms loose loaded in a container should be loaded at the door or in crate number 1 to allow easy access for inspections.
- Once inspected at a CFS facility, the firearms must be immediately removed from the premises.
- Guns previously owned and shipped from the USA can normally be imported if military.
- Government personnel must provide proof to the satisfaction of Customs that the items were sent from the USA.
- The best method is for the owner of the goods to register the weapons with Customs prior to export from the USA.
- If the owner of the goods does not have a registration then a copy of sales receipts, the export OBL, inventory and a declaration will sometimes satisfy Customs.
- Weapons purchased overseas are normally required to be imported using a federal firearms permit holder but some exceptions do apply to allow non-resident individuals to apply for a permit directly with alcohol, tobacco and firearms (ATF).
- The ATF permit filing should be applied for at least 6 weeks in advance of the arrival of the shipment.
- The application requires that the Customs broker who will handle the entry be named on the ATF application, so it is important that the application is filed properly from the start to avoid delays on arrival.
- The owner of the goods should consult with the USA agent when considering shipping any weapons and provide all the facts regarding how and where the weapons were acquired.
- It should be noted that not all types of weapons can be imported.
- Food items including dried food, spices, perishables, meats, liquids, etc.
- Narcotics, dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia
- Illegal drugs
- Pornographic materials
- Cuban cigars and flavored cigarettes, including cloves
- Explosives, including fireworks and other hazardous articles
- Blank tapes and CDs from Iran
- Counterfeit items or items inappropriately using a federally registered trademark
- Endangered species, objects made from them and artifacts
- Products made from dog and cat fur
- Haitian animal hide drums
- Toxic and poisonous substances
- Rooted plants, flowers, soil and promulgate materials
Recommended: Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.