When you plan to travel outside the United States, there are some things you should know that pertains to US Customs procedures. US Customs officers are mandated by law to examine your baggage when you return from a trip. They may also ask you some questions regarding your travel documents and your travel abroad and what you are bringing back from your travels. Being aware of the regulations can make your re-entry to the United States uneventful.
The first thing that you should know when you travel abroad is duty and dutiable goods. It is also important to declare the items that the US Customs deemed dutiable including personal effects. You will be asked to fill out a Customs Declaration Form upon your arrival. This will give you the opportunity to declare in writing both dutiable and non-dutiable goods that you are bringing into the country.
When you are bringing something out of the country, make sure that you declare this or else you will be taxed every time you bring it back in. An example is bringing foreign made laptops with you on your business trips. You must register that item and bring some proofs of ownership such as a receipt. To register, request for a Certificate of Registration or Customs Form 4457. Do this before you depart for your foreign travel.
The next information that you should know is your duty free exemptions. Each citizen is entitled to duty-free exemptions of up to $400. This means you can bring in items you bought from abroad for personal consumption. There are some exceptions to the rule though. Your tax exemptions are good for thirty days. To qualify for tax exemptions, your travel duration must be at least 48 hours stay abroad. If you are traveling to any Caribbean destination listed in the US Customs’ preferred countries of destination in the Caribbean, you are entitled exemptions of up to $1,200.
Every American traveler must be aware of what is allowable and prohibited to enter the United States. The US Customs Service website provides helpful information for the traveler. You must also be aware that bringing in contraband in and out of the United States can get you in trouble. Before making any purchases and bringing it back into the country, ensure that these do not fall under the restricted goods or prohibited goods. Learn to distinguish the difference between restricted and prohibited goods. Restricted goods require special permits while prohibited goods are refused entry into the country absolutely. You may bring in goods within the limits of your exemptions including gifts but you must declare them. When bringing in goods that go over your exemption limits, expect to pay the difference after subtracting your entitled exemptions from the levied amount.
Before returning from your travels abroad, make sure all your travel documents are complete and the necessary customs forms filled out to avoid any delay. Customs officials are prevailed to be most courteous to in-bound and out-bound travelers. Once you return to the country, you are again the subject of the laws of the United States.