Moving Goods to the USA

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Find out about customs regulations for imports into the United States.

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required                                          

  • Copy of passport (required by some ports for all family members listed on the 3299)
  • Form CF-3299 – declaration for free entry of unaccompanied articles (if applicable)
  • Copy of visa (if non-US citizen / permanent resident) / copy of permanent resident card
  • I-94 stamp / card
  • A-1 visa (diplomats)
  • Form DS-1504 (diplomats)

Specific Information

  • All shipments are subject to examination at the discretion of Customs officials.
  • Do not indicate “packed by owner” (PBO) or miscellaneous descriptions on the detailed inventory.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • S. Customs may also order intensive exams on any shipments containing food products, medications or liquor. 
  • The owner of the goods is responsible to pay for the exams and any damage incurred during inspections by Customs officials.


Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) form EPA-3520-21 (if applicable)
  • OBL (foreign purchased vehicles)
  • Bill of sale / pro-forma invoice with statement of value (foreign purchased vehicles)
  • Title of ownership translated into English (foreign purchased vehicles)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) form HS-7
  • 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the undercarriage of imported cars be free from foreign soil before they can be entered into the United States.
    • This may be done by steam spray or by thorough cleaning before shipment.
  • Do not store personal items in any motor vehicle.



Documents Required

  • Rabies vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate

Specific Information

  • 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.


Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • Plants and seeds (an import permit and plant and plant product declaration form are required)
  • Soil (an import permit is required)
  • Meats and meat byproducts (e.g., bouillon soups)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Game and hunting trophies
  • Gold
  • Merchandise from embargoed countries (a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control is required)
    • The importation of alcohol 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.
    • 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.
  • Food Items
    • The importation of food items is strongly discouraged.
  • 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.
  • Weapons
    • Guns (ammunition cannot be shipped as it is a hazardous good) previously owned and shipped from the U.S. can normally be imported if military, government personnel can establish to the satisfaction of Customs that the items were sent from the U.S.
      • 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.
      • It should be noted that not all types of weapons can be imported.


Prohibited Items

  • Tuna
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Haitian animal-hide drums
  • Cuban cigars
  • Blank tapes and CDs from Iran
  • Absinthe
  • Counterfeit items or items inappropriately using a federally registered trademark
  • Products made from dog and cat fur
  • Flavored cigarettes, including cloves

Still have a question? Please contact us for more information.

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