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Shipping Your Household Goods to the United States

Posted on March 17, 2014, 09:01 AM, by Jenna Farmer under Preparing for Your Move

Moving to the United States from abroad is much more than a change of scenery -- the relocation process for international moves is time consuming and requires proper documentation and authority. Whether you are a returning resident, a government or military employee, or  a non-resident that is brand new to the country, you'll need to know how to get your household goods through customs without any delays. What are household and personal effects?

Household goods: Household goods or effects are typically most of the belongings and furnishings you have in your current home. These items include (but are not limited to) things like dishes, silverware, artwork, furniture, toys and rugs. To move such items into the US, they must have been used in your household for at least one year, and must not be sold or given to any other person. The complete inventory of your goods will serve as the packing list, and will be given to customs upon request. These goods may or may not accompany you when you travel to the US - you can opt to ship them separately, and customs will notify you when your shipment has arrived. 

Personal effects: Personal effects are items that belong to an individual and include (but are not limited to) items such as clothing, jewelry, cameras and tape recorders, and cannot be entered as household effects.

Importing your household goods and personal effects

To import your household goods shipment, you will need to fill out the Customs Form (CF) 6059B, which requires personal information about the traveler/family and the nature of the trip. You will also need to complete the CF 3299 form (Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles).

To complete this form, you will need to provide:

Part I 

  1. Importer's name: the full name of the person (importer) bringing effects into the US

  2. Importer's date of birth (DOB)

  3. Date of arrival: the date of arrival into the US of the importer from the country where the goods were used

  4. US address: the permanent address in the US for the importer. If the address is not available, you may use a business address, a relative's address, or an address in which you may be traced by the US government if necessary

  5. US port of arrival: name of the seaport, airport or border point where the importer processed CBP on the date of arrival (item 3)

  6. Arriving vessel, carrier, train and flight: the name of the airline and flight number, name of vessel and voyage number, train name and train number

  7. Name(s) of accompanying household members: full names and relationships of family members (immediate) of the importer who traveled with him/her

  8. Articles for which free entry is claimed (not required): importer or destination agent must provide the following:  

          -Date: arrival of shipment date into the US

-Name of vessel/carrier: name of transportation/ shipping company

-From: name of country the items were shipped from

-OBL number, AWB number, IT number: Bill of Lading number, Air Waybill number or immediate transportation document

-Number and kinds of containers: total number of containers and type (e.g. wood, suitcases, crates, etc)

-Marks and numbers: identifying factors 

Part II

     9. Residency

This section is to identify your current andprevious residency status. If you maintain a permanent residence overseas, you will check "is," but if you are entering the US to take up permanent residence, you will check "was." You will need to state the name of the country of your last residence, the length of time in which you lived in that country, and your residency status upon arriving to the US. 

    10. Statement of Eligibility for Free Entry of Articles: 

Mark statements that apply to the articles being imported for duty free entry. More than one statement can be marked, and please note the choice between household goods and personal effects.

Part III

If your shipment is not moving under a Government Bill of Lading, you are not required to complete this section of the 3299 form. This section may apply to military personnel and their families, or other USgovernment agency personnel and their dependents. 

Part IV

You must mark all the applicable boxes and declare any of the following items contained in your shipment:

1. Articles for other persons: items intended for gifts

2. Articles for sale or commercial use: you may need an additional CBP entry

3. Firearms and/or ammunition: additional forms and/or permits from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives need to be completed

4. Alcoholic beverages of all types, tobacco products: individual states may restrict or prohibit some such articles, or require payment of state taxes (which should be paid before the shipment will be released)

5. Fruits, plants, seeds, meats or birds: subject to inspection by the FDA or APHIS

6. Fish, wildlife, or animal products: subject to health, quarantine, agriculture or wildlife prohibitions or requirements

7. Foreign household effects acquired abroad (used for less than one year):articles under this category are subject to import duties

8. Foreign-made articles acquired in the US and taken abroad on this trip, or acquired abroad on another trip: articles under this category may require proof that the article had previously been in the US

9. Articles taken abroad that were altered or repaired overseas: articles under this category must be supported with receipts, showing when and where the alterations or repairs were made, and the value/cost of such alterations

In Part IV Section D, you are required to list any items declared in Part IV (items 1-7), then provide customs with a description and a value of the merchandise 

Part V

If you have hired an international moving company or freight forwarder to transport your goods, you will need to provide the name of the carrier and a signature and printed name of the driver.

Part VI

You must sign Part VI, Section 2 of the document and date Part VI, Section 3. This must be completed, signed and mailed to your international moving company in order for the movers to arrange for customs clearance. 

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