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Moving to the USA - personal and household effect customs clearance

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Moving your used personal and household effects to the US requires customs clearance upon arrival. You can import your used personal and household goods such as furniture, vehicles, clothing and etc. without duty if you owned the goods for at least one year. If goods purchased within one year of time of importation, these items will be subject to import tax.

Moving from one country to another country is a painful process to go through and requires a lot of preparation. An experienced customs broker can guide you through the process of all the requirements and documents you may need to clear customs smoothly and fast. And making sure that you aren't bringing in anything illegal into the USA.

What is the personal effect?

Personal effects are items that belong to and are used by one person, such as wearing apparel, jewelry, photographic equipment, and tape recorders. They cannot be entered as household effects. As with everything entering the United States, these items will still be subject to inspection by a CBP officer.

What is the household effect?

Household effects are furniture, carpets, paintings, tableware, books, libraries, artwork, and other usual household furnishings and effects that were used abroad for not less than 1 year by residents or nonresidents, and not intended for any other person or for sale.

Household effects used abroad not less than 1 year by a family of which the importer was a resident member for not less than 1 year during the period of use, may be imported duty-free into the USA.

Customs Clearance

Clearing your goods through customs may be very painful and we recommend hiring an experienced customs broker to help you clear the goods. To declaration duty-free of the goods that you bringing into the USA requires the below information.

  • Pro forma invoice - any goods importing require an invoice even the goods are used. An estimated value of your goods will be sufficient for clearance.

  • Packing list - A detailed list of items that you will be imported.

  • Shipping detail - If you bring the goods by vessel, ocean bill of lading and ISF filing are required. If you bring the goods by air, Air waybill information or flight detail is required. If you bring the goods by land which mean crossing border from Canada or Mexico, transporting vehicle and place of crossing are required.

  • Goods involving clearance from other government agencies - Additional requirements may be required by other government agencies such as FDA and USDA with importing foods, drinks and etc. EPA and DOT with vehicle importation. TTB and FDA with tobacco products importation.

  • Power of attorney - power of attorney is required so a licensed customs broker can help you submit clearance to the customs on your behalf.

  • Identification - Identification of the person importing the goods into the USA. A copy of passport or state ID.

Personal effect that needs additional attention

Below are goods that need to pay attention to when moving into the USA.

  • Pets - dog, cat, and etc.

  • Vehicle

  • Alcohol - one liter of alcohol per person may enter into USA duty-free who are 21 years or older.

  • Tobacco products - 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars per person may enter into USA duty-free who are 21 years or older

  • Food and drinks - Most foods and drinks for personal use can be imported into the USA but meat and meat-containing products like canned meat, chick noodle soup and etc are highly restricted from importing into the USA.

  • Medications - Medication for personal may be allowed in the USA but some medications with potential drug abuse substances are highly restricted.

  • Plants, Seeds, Vegetables, and fruits

If you need any assistance with customs clearance, you may contact on below.

Contact us below for free consultation: Fast Customs Clearance

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