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Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Old Jul 9th 2016, 8:07 am
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Default Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Can anyone tell me how you go about declaring your belongings upon immigration. Will have 4 suitcases full of anything and everything. What do I do? If I have to write down EVERYTHING is it like - 1 monkey ornament value $1, 1 wooden photo frame value $1, 1 red t shirt value $2 for example.... Obviously the customs form is very small, no room for everything I am taking with me. Thank you.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 2:02 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

You don't have to declare anything apart from what's asked for on the form. This includes alcohol, tobacco, foodstuffs and cash over $10,000.

Basically, your existing possessions are of no interest to US Customs unless it can be taxed or confiscated!
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 3:09 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

I put "miscellaneous household items" on the boxes I brought in.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 3:25 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by Guindalf View Post
You don't have to declare anything apart from what's asked for on the form. This includes alcohol, tobacco, foodstuffs and cash over $10,000.

Basically, your existing possessions are of no interest to US Customs unless it can be taxed or confiscated!
Gifts and "things of value" bought oversease are declarable, so if you buy a glass vase worth $250 on a trip to Venice, or $250 of books while visiting the UK, they are declarable. Whether everyone declares them is an entirely different question!

Any household goods and personal possessions are exempt on immigration i.e. arriving in the US to live (perhaps this is what Guindalf mean? ) and don't need to be declared, .... so long as, per the letter of US customs regulations, you have owned them for six months. Of course in practice it would be virtually impossible for a US customs officer to tell when you bought something unless for example it was a newly released iPhone or similar technology gadget.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jul 9th 2016 at 3:52 pm.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 3:47 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Gifts and "things of value" bought oversease are declarable, so if you buy a glass vase worth $250 on a trip to Venice, or $250 of books while visiting the UK, they are declarable. Whether everyone declares them is an entirely different question!

~
Thanks for the rolleyes, but I believe I covered this when I said "You don't have to declare anything apart from what's asked for on the form.",

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Any household goods and personal possessions are exempt on immigration i.e. arriving in the US to live (perhaps this is what Guindalf mean? ) and don't need to be declared, .... so long as, per the letter of US customs regulations, you have owned them for six months. Of course in practice it would be virtually impossible for a US customs officer to tell when you bought something unless for example it was a newly released iPhone or similar technology gadget.
If you bothered to read the OP, it includes the words "declaring your belongings upon immigration"
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 3:56 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by Guindalf View Post
Thanks for the rolleyes, but I believe I covered this when I said "You don't have to declare anything apart from what's asked for on the form.", ....
But the form does ask the value of things you're importing.
.... If you bothered to read the OP, it includes the words "declaring your belongings upon immigration" .....
I didn't mean to aggravate you. I have removed the rolleyes, though it was meant as a comment on the honestly of travellers, not any sort of dig at you. ..... But as you know many people read these forums, so it always makes sense to provide answers that are "complete", not just specific to the exact circumstances of the OP, therefore given that, my answer was meant to complement your answer, and I don't think was critical of it - it certainly wasn't meant to be.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jul 9th 2016 at 3:58 pm.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 4:14 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

For the value you probably just want to put a figure around the value of how much you think you would be able to sell it for, not what you paid for it. This is for good over 6 months old.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
For the value you probably just want to put a figure around the value of how much you think you would be able to sell it for, not what you paid for it. This is for good over 6 months old.
But on immigration personal possessions are exempt, and as Guindalf said, only dutiable or a very small number of other specific things, are declarable
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 4:20 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Does that only count at time of immigration? What if I bring my Grandma's priceless tea pot over when she dies several years after I have moved here? This would of course be subject to estate/inheritance tax outside of bringing it into the country.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 4:37 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Does that only count at time of immigration? What if I bring my Grandma's priceless tea pot over when she dies several years after I have moved here? ....
Things which are inherited are also exempt, with the specific caveat that they were in the house when you lived there, so the Whistler painting that your parents bought when you were a child would be exempt, but the Poussin they inherited from your great aunt when she died after you left home would not be exempt.

How on earth US customs would prove that is an interesting question, and unless you inherited something like an old master or a classic Ferrari, I doubt they would bother.
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Old Jul 9th 2016, 7:20 pm
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
But the form does ask the value of things you're importing.
I didn't mean to aggravate you. I have removed the rolleyes, though it was meant as a comment on the honestly of travellers, not any sort of dig at you. ..... But as you know many people read these forums, so it always makes sense to provide answers that are "complete", not just specific to the exact circumstances of the OP, therefore given that, my answer was meant to complement your answer, and I don't think was critical of it - it certainly wasn't meant to be.
Apologies. I guess I'm still a little over-sensitive.

The form asks for the value of purchases and gifts. Agreed that some of this is down to individual honesty, but technically, everything in the suitcases is being 'imported', although personal belongings and possessions over 6months old are exempt.

Last edited by Guindalf; Jul 9th 2016 at 7:22 pm.
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Old Jul 10th 2016, 10:07 am
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Whatever you do, do not forget medicines and drugs, what might be over the counter in one country may not apply to the US.
Last time I went through, I just told an officer that I was carrying prescription drugs, he just said okay.
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Old Jul 11th 2016, 12:11 am
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by audio View Post
Whatever you do, do not forget medicines and drugs, what might be over the counter in one country may not apply to the US.
Last time I went through, I just told an officer that I was carrying prescription drugs, he just said okay.
Be aware that if you do declare over-the-counter UK strong painkillers (like the ones I usually bring for my MIL if I go) they will confiscate them as they are not allowed in the US without a prescription. (My MIL used to suffer a lot of pain, not so bad now she's lost weight, but the doctor just told her to take Advil. The governor of the state doesn't want anyone to have strong painkillers for more than three days even from the doctor, MIL described it as 'government cracking down.')
So if you are planning to declare such items you may as well just not bother taking them.)

Whenever I visit I just list the items I have brought as gifts which I will leave there. I don't declare my own luggage! If I was moving there I wouldn't declare my own luggage. If it is staying in the US and it is for somebody else that's the only time you need to declare it. Oh and I think if you're carrying cash over a certain amount I think $10K, hard to believe people would travel with that much actual dosh these days. It is only for money-laundering purposes though, you are allowed to bring more than that.
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Old Jul 11th 2016, 1:00 am
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

Originally Posted by LondonSquirrel View Post
Be aware that if you do declare over-the-counter UK strong painkillers (like the ones I usually bring for my MIL if I go) they will confiscate them as they are not allowed in the US without a prescription. ....
There is no prohibition on "strong painkillers", there are however prohibitions on certain specific drugs, for example the importation of Codeine, also known as 3-methylmorphine, is prohibited.
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Old Jul 11th 2016, 8:14 am
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Default Re: Declaring belongings in suitcase at port of entry

If you are on regular medication, bring a copy of your prescription and/or letter from your GP and the medication in its original packaging with the pharmacy label on it. Check however, that you are actually allowed to leave the UK with your medication - if you are prescribed, for example, benzodiazepines it appears you need a personal license to do so. Personally, I have never declared any medication that I have carried on me as it is not on the customs form. If directly asked if I have medicines on me, I would of course say yes if that is the case.

Having said that, bear in mind that CBP can still inspect your baggage if they feel like it, so you should be prepared in case they do. You are unlikely to have any problems with medication unless they are a controlled substance, and that is where it is easy to fall foul of the rules. The most common ones will be opioid based painkillers (codeine, dihydrocodeine, tramadol), where the US is a lot more strict than in the UK and they are often Scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act - which sets out the conditions under which you can legally possess them. If you have all the correct paperwork, and have a small amount that is clearly for personal use for a reasonable length of time (to cover the length of your trip, or until you can see a doctor to get a US prescription), then you are unlikely to get into any trouble and the worse that could happen is that they confiscate them.

As audio said, beware, as some drugs that are available freely over the counter in the UK are not permitted in the USA. The example that I give (and still gives me cold sweats) is pholcodine linctus for coughs. I bought a small bottle at Boots at the airport on a journey to the US as I had bronchitis and didn't want to be coughing all through the flight. I kept it in my hand luggage, didn't declare during security or immigration, no issues - but I found out later that pholcodine is actually Schedule I in the USA - the same category as heroin! (i.e. never legal under any circumstance whatsoever) So don't rely on the UK pharmacist knowing what will be permitted in the US.

Common drugs you may carry that are unlikely to be an issue as freely available in the US are things like:
  • plain paracetamol (known as acetominophen in the US)
  • ibuprofen
  • asprin
  • antihistamines
  • loperamide (Immodium)
  • indigestion remedies like Zantac, Tagamet, Losec

Examples of drugs available to buy (without a prescription) in the UK but not in the US (and so you could be challenged as to why you don't have a prescription on entering the US):
  • Paracetamol/codeine tablets (eg Migraleve)
  • Sumatriptan (Immigran) is prescription only in the US, but OTC in the UK
  • Prochlorperazine (Buccastem M) is prescription only in the US, but OTC in the UK
  • Buscopan (hyoscine butyl bromide) is General Sales List in the UK (ie don't need a pharmacist) but is not available at all in the USA even with a prescription.
  • The aforementioned pholcodine linctus which is OTC in the UK but illegal in the US

Last edited by yellowroom; Jul 11th 2016 at 9:47 am. Reason: keep thinking of more drug examples
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