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Information on U.S. Customs
 
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American Citizens Services Unit

The following is information in relation to the most frequently asked questions in regards to U.S. Customs regulations. For additional information please use the keyword search engine on the U.S. Customs website, or contact the nearest U.S. Customs office (located in Frankfurt), tel. +49 69 7535 3876, fax +49 69 7535 3780. Office hours are between 9AM and 6PM.

Alcohol

Residents and non-residents over 21 years of age may bring no more than one liter of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or liquor) to the U.S. duty free. You may not mail alcoholic beverages to the U.S.

Dogs/Cats

No special documentation or vaccinations are required for dogs or cats traveling directly from Sweden to the United States. A "Health Certificate" from your veterinarian is recommended. Always check with your airline before departure. For further information we refer to the Department of Agriculture. Note: Different rules may apply to Hawaii.

Firearms

It is prohibited for Nonimmigrant aliens to import firearms and ammunition to the U.S. There are, however, certain exceptions, e.g. in regards to hunting and government officials. For more detailed information and the downloading of the application for the permit, please visit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' website.

Food

When traveling to the U.S. you may be able to bring in food such as fruits, meats or other agricultural products, depending on the region or country from which you are traveling. Restrictions are placed on these products to protect community health, preserve the environment and prevent the introduction of devastating diseases to domestic plants and animals. Read about which food products are generally admissible on the U.S. Customs website.

Because regulations concerning meat and meat byproducts change frequently, travelers should contact the consulate or local agricultural office in the country of origin for up-to-date information on the disease status of that country. You can also read more about bringing agricultural products into the U.S. on the U.S. Customs website.

Mailing Food, Candy, etc. to the U.S.

If you are a private individual who wishes to send beverage and food items to the U.S., you should be aware that some items are highly restricted, particularly food items with meat products, including soup mixes, bullion, sausages, tinned meats, etc., and fresh produce. As a general rule, candies, condiments, spices, coffee and teas that are commercially packaged are ok, however bulk teas or spices, etc. are subject to inspection and if they are found to have insects, they may be seized and destroyed.

Food that is sent to an individual in the U.S. for personal use (i.e. not for resale) by a business is subject to special requirements of the Food and Drug Administration. Businesses that send goods to the U.S. must file prior notice. Prior notice may be filed on-line if the goods are being sent through the postal service. (Foods sent from an individual to an individual for personal use or as a bona fide gift are not subject to the Prior Notice requirement.) Read more at the U.S. Customs website.

Gifts

A non-resident may bring gifts totaling $100 in value to the U.S. duty free. Any gift items over that amount will be dutiable at the same rates as gifts exceeding $800 for a returning resident (see next paragraph).

As a returning resident, you are entitled to a duty-free exemption for newly purchased goods up to the value of $800 if the goods accompany you when you arrive in the U.S. Goods in excess of $800 that accompany you are dutiable at a flat rate of 3 percent for the next $1000 in value, goods that are not covered by the personal exemption or flat rate of duty (anything over $1800) are assessed duty in accordance with the item's Harmonized Tariff Schedule classification number. (Schedule available on the U.S. Customs Service's website).

Medication

You may bring medication into the U.S. for personal use only. You cannot bring in medicine for friends or family, nor can you mail medication to someone in the United States. Prescription medications should be in their original containers, and it is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities. If medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription, or a note from your doctor with you.

Narcotics and certain other drugs with a high potential for abuse - Rohypnol, GHB and Fen-Phen, to name a few - may not be brought into the United States, and there are severe penalties for trying to do so. If you need medicines that contain potentially addictive drugs or narcotics (e.g., some cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants or stimulants), do the following:

  • Declare all drugs, medicinals, and similar products to the appropriate U.S. customs official at the U.S. border;
  • Carry such substances in their original containers;
  • Carry only the quantity of such substances that a person with that condition (e.g., chronic pain) would normally carry for his/her personal use; and
  • Carry a prescription or written statement from your physician that the substances are being used under a doctor's supervision and that they are necessary for your physical well being while traveling.

If you are traveling with medical devices such as needles or oxygen tanks that could pose a security or safety concern to others, be sure to have a copy of the prescription for those items from your doctor. You should also contact the airline and the Transportation Security Administration regarding any additional requirements it may have.

Non-prescription medicines (also known as over-the-counter or OTC medicines), vitamins, and supplement products fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In general FDA will not object to the personal importation of those products, as long as:

  •  The traveler is carrying the products in their possession (or in their luggage);
  •  The amount being carried is an amount reasonably considered for personal use.

For additional information please consult the FDA Consumer Alert webpage via the following link: FDA.gov

Money

There is no limit on the total amount of monetary instruments that may be brought into or taken out of the U.S. However, if you transport more than $10.000 in monetary instruments on any occasion into or out of the U.S., a report must be filed with U.S. Customs. Download the form FinCEN 105 (PDF 222 KB) (Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments), or obtain it when entering or leaving the US from a customs official. Failure to declare currency in amounts over $10,000 may be subject to forfeiture and could result in civil and criminal penalties.

Motor Vehicles

A vehicle registered in another country may be imported for personal use for a period not to exceed one year. The vehicle cannot be sold and it must be exported within one year from the date of entry. A form HS-7 (PDF 193 KB) (also available at ports of entry) must be completed as well as Form 3250-1 (PDF 141 KB).

For more information about importing motor vehicles and conforming cars to U.S. standards, please visit the U.S. Customs website, the website of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

More information may be obtained from the U.S. Customs website "Importing a Car".

Tobacco / Snuff ("Snus")

You are permitted to bring 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes (one carton) into the US duty free, or one roll ("stock") of snuff into the US duty free.

Moving to the U.S.

Duty Exemptions for Household and Personal Effects

You may import furniture, dishes, linens, libraries, artwork and similar household furnishings for your personal use free of duty. To be eligible for duty-free exemption, the articles must have either been available for your use, or used in a household where you were a resident for one year. The year of use does not need to be continuous, nor does it need to be the year immediately before the date of importation. Personal and household effects entitled to duty-free entry need not accompany you to the United States; you may have them shipped to your U.S. address at a later time if you choose. Your shipment of personal and/or household goods must be cleared through Customs at its first port of arrival.

Professional Equipment/Tools of Trade

Your professional equipment or tools of trade are entitled to duty-free consideration if they are for your personal use. They do not have to have been in your household for more than 1 year to qualify for this exemption.

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