American Customs


Whether you are returning to the United States of America, or going there for the first time, there will inevitably be questions that you would like answered prior to your move.

The following guide will hopefully provide you with the information you need for importing household goods and personal effects, including sections on prohibited or restricted items, alcoholic beverages, firearms, automobiles, and household pets. In addition, we have compiled a step by step guide on how to complete your U.S. Customs Form 3299, which is required for all household and personal effects shipments imported into the U.S.A.
You should note that additional charges may be incurred if you import prohibited or restricted items. These charges, along with taxes and duties, are excluded from our quotes.
If you have any questions regarding your move, please feel free to contact us.



You should bear in mind when making your travel arrangements that generally household goods and personal effects shipments can only be customs cleared once you have physically arrived in the U.S.A.
The regulations on duty free entry depend not on citizenship, but whether you are a returning resident of the U.S., or a non-resident.

A NON-RESIDENT is classified as:

Those who are entering the U.S. for residency (either temporary or permanently) for the first time, or a former U.S. resident who has resided abroad for a period of not less than three years.
If you are a non-resident, both household and personal effects owned and used for over one year are duty free. Household and personal effects owned and used for less than one year are subject to duty.

A RETURNING RESIDENT is classified as:

Those, regardless of citizenship, who have resided in the U.S. previously, left the U.S. for a temporary residence abroad, have been out of the U.S. for less than three years, and are now returning to resume residence in the U.S.A.
If you are a resident, household effects owned and used for over one year are duty free. Household effects owned for less than one year are subject to duty, and all personal effects purchased overseas during your residency outside the U.S. are subject to duty.

Whether you are a Non-Resident, the documents required for Customs clearance of household and personal effects shipments are:

U.S. Customs Form 3299 (attached), Supplemental Declaration (attached), and original ocean bill of lading or air waybill (supplied by us), passport copies for the entire family, as well as resident visas.


Regulations regarding the importation of alcohol into the U.S. vary from state to state, and may be subject to change without notice. Many ports, particularly in the South, prohibit importation altogether. We therefore suggest that you consider carefully whether you wish to include alcoholic beverages in your shipment, possibly incurring lengthy delays and intensive examination.

If you do choose to import any alcohol, an itemized list including the type, quantity and alcoholic content must be provided to us in advance for Customs clearance in the U.S. Your surveyor will be able to provide you with more detailed information on the regulations in each state.


All vehicles imported into the United States must comply with the emission requirements as stated in the Clean Air Act. Vehicles manufactured outside America must be brought up to U.S. standards before being imported, and must display a sticker of conformity.

Importing a vehicle that does not meet U.S. emission requirements can be expensive and inconvenient. You may be confronted with fines and assessments by the federal government.

For the most recent information, please contact the Import E.P.A. Division of the Department of Transportation on (202) 260 2504, or the Department of Transportation on (202) 366 5313 (always make a note of the extension number and person that you speak to). Should you be exporting a vehicle to the U.S. that you had previously owned and driven in the States, please supply us with any documentation relating to the export of the vehicle from the U.S.


Pets can generally be imported into the United States on condition that they have a current health certificate from a vet, issued not more than 30 days prior to departure. We will be pleased to arrange for kenneling and transportation of any family pet through a specialist company.


The importation of firearms and ammunition into the U.S. is restricted and can be complicated. As with alcohol, each state governs its own regulations, and U.S. Customs authorities will not allow firearms to move beyond the port of entry if they are destined to a state that prohibits the possession or importation of firearms. You should therefore contact the applicable state’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms to determine whether firearms are permitted and what are the current regulations.


–          Food items those are not canned or dried. Milk products, whether fresh or otherwise, are prohibited.

–          Pornographic materials

–          Fireworks and explosives

–          Narcotics and dangerous drugs (or any medicines without a doctor’s prescription)

–          Iranian carpets and/or rugs that were purchased after October 21 1987. If purchased prior to this date, proof of purchase (i.e. receipts) must be shown

–          Duvets containing feathers from protected bird species

–          Switchblade knives

NOTE – Customs regulations of the USA are subject to change at any time. The proceeding information is a brief summary of customs regulations applicable to household goods shipments to the USA (this destination) and is being provided for general guidance to assist our Agents and Customers. Since such regulations are subject to change without notice, ERS cannot be held liable for any costs, damage, delays, or other detrimental events resulting from non-compliance. Always double checks with your local embassy or consulate before you make your move.