3 Major Customs Changes for International Moving

After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security created the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency where customs, immigration and naturalization, border patrol and animal and plant health inspection services were combined. While this formed a new, more responsive unit, it produced changes to import/export requirements and customs paperwork.

1. Importing commercial goods into the U.S. has complex requirements

During international moving to the U.S. and preparing to import goods, the importer of record (IOR), which is the owner, purchaser or consignee, must file entry documents with the port director at the receiving port. The IOR, and not professional moving companies, is responsible for arranging the examination and release of the goods from the port and must also notify other agencies in particular international moving circumstances. For example, questions regarding products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must be directed to the FDA in addition to filing with the port director. Specialized imports may have their own set of additional rules
Professional moving companies are often hired to handle this complex process and file the required forms.

2. Shipping household goods to the U.S. is less complex for U.S. residents

When U.S. residents ship their household goods back into the U.S., customs paperwork is required but fewer duties are imposed. If you are a returning resident and your personal and household effects were in use or available for use abroad for a year, you typically will not have to pay any duty on your items. However, you will need to have your possessions cleared through the CBP. Either you or the person you designated will need to physically appear at the port with a completed declaration for free entry of unaccompanied goods form to present to the CPB officer.

The CPB will not notify you when your items arrive, so it is essential that you have good communication with your carrier. If your goods are not collected from the port in a timely manner, after 15 days they may be sent to a general warehouse. If they are not picked up after six months, they may be sold at auction.

3. Everyone must cope with additional paperwork

Whether commercially importing or returning your household goods from an international moving adventure, there will be additional paperwork. Make sure the professional moving companies you consider hiring have a solid understanding of what is required.

For commercial importers, there are many additional forms and requirements to complete:

  • Entry documents
  • Evidence of right to enter documents
  • Entry manifest
  • Commercial invoice or pro forma invoice
  • Packing lists
  • Surety bonds

For personal non-commercial goods, there are fewer forms and requirements:

  • Declaration for free entry
  • Certificate for registration (for previously U.S. purchased firearms)
  • Harmonized tariff schedule
  • Inventory list of goods
  • Additional approval from FDA for food or pantry items

Plan the import or export of your goods well in advance, and enlist the help of global logistics experts to make these transitions easier.