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United States

CUSTOMS GUIDE - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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 moving overseas.

The following guide will hopefully provide you with the information you need for importing household goods and personal effects.

You should note that additional charges may be incurred if you import prohibited or restricted items. These charges, along with taxes and duties, storage, demurrage, USA customs / agriculture inspection charges, handling/special cleaning charges resulting from inspection, delivery that can only be serviced by ferry or delivery above 2nd floor without an elevator are not included in our quotation.

Loading & Transit

If you are shipping a large household removal which will fill a whole shipping container, it will be shipped to the nearest port of entry to your residence. Otherwise, your shipment will travel by a consolidated 'groupage' service, which usually be shipped through one of the following main ports of entry - New York, Miami, or Los Angeles. There are of course, many other ports on both the Eastern and Western seaboards, but because we have long-standing associations, and also excellent working relationships with reputable and reliable agents in these three ports, most of our 'groupage' containers will be consigned to our agents at these ports for Customs clearance and delivery or on-carriage to inland destinations. Also, because these ports are amongst the largest, freight can be consolidated more quickly for them than for many other points of entry to the USA.

These consolidated 'groupage' services are shipping containers that are loaded with other personal effects shipments such as your own. When there are sufficient goods to fill a container, it is then loaded and booked on a vessel. This consolidation of shipments usually takes between one and four weeks depending on how much cargo is already available for the appropriate port of entry, and may vary during busy or quiet periods.

The actual sailing times vary between just under two weeks for New York to about four or five weeks for Los Angeles. The length of time required for Customs clearance and delivery to your final destination depends on the distance you live from the port of entry. For instance, after your shipment has cleared Customs, you would have to allow longer for a delivery to say Illinois or Arizona, than you would if your shipment is for delivery in central Los Angeles or New York. Taking into account the consolidation period, the sailing time and the period required for arranging delivery, you can expect a total transit time of between about four and six weeks to a New York area residence, seven and nine weeks to a Los Angeles residence (San Francisco is served by our Los Angeles containers and takes an extra week), and somewhere between about eight and ten weeks for an inland destination such as Kansas or Colorado.

Freight Charges

Although we do offer services to 'arrival port only' to Miami, New York and Los Angeles (and also San Francisco via Los Angeles), we will normally quote you for door to door service. It is to very much to your advantage to ship your goods on a door to door basis, as this means you do not then have to pay in America for the various port charges, container unloading, notification, Customs clearance, and delivery to residence.

We are a bulk buyer of destination services and we obtain these services at a rate less than a member of the public can expect to pay. Consequently, you will find that in most cases it is more expensive to ship to 'arrival port' and then pay the destination charges, than it is to pay initially for door to door shipment.

Note that the term 'arrival port' is a shipping term that refers to the point to which freight charges have been paid. It does not mean you can collect your goods directly at the port to do your own Customs clearance. The whole container is consigned to our destination agent who pays the port charges to enable collection from the wharf, and arranges haulage to a Customs bonded depot for unloading. If you have paid for a door to door shipment, the costs of uplifting the container from the wharf, haulage to depot, unloading, notification, Customs clearance, and delivery to your residence are included in your payment.

On Arrival

As soon as we load a sea-freight container, we send a 'pre-alert' advice to our agent at the port of entry. This means that when you call them, they can tell you when your shipment is due to arrive. Shortly before the vessel is due to arrive at the port, an arrival notification will be sent to you together with any documents which may be required for Customs clearance which you have not yet completed. Our agent will arrange to have the container uplifted from the wharf and hauled to their Customs bonded depot, where your shipment will be cleared through Customs.

Customs Clearance

All shipments entering the United States must be cleared through Customs. There are some documents which we will supply you with that you must complete for your goods to clear Customs. Once you have completed them, we forward them to the destination agent with the container manifest.

The first of these documents is called a Power of Attorney. This is a form which empowers the destination agent or his appointed Customs broker to act as your representative, and to make statements and present documents to Customs on your behalf. The main form for clearance is the 'Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles' also known as Customs form 3299. On this form you declare your own personal details, residency status, and other information about your shipment. The third form is the 'Supplemental Declaration' on which you give further details about your citizenship, your U.S. and overseas addresses, passport and/or Social security number and if applicable, your employment details.

Together with these forms you should complete a packing list or inventory. If your shipment is an owner-packed shipment, we will supply you with a packing list form on which you list the goods in your shipment. If your shipment is a household removal including professional packing, our packers will make an inventory for you at the time of the removal.

At some ports, Customs will request copies of either your Social security number or your passport. We recommend that you attach to your Customs documents a copy of either of these, and if required, our agent will present it to Customs with the remainder of the documents. Passport copies should include the pages with your personal details, and Visa page (if applicable). All the documents described here can also be completed on arrival in the U.S. and will be sent to you by our agent if you have not already completed them, but it does assist with speedy Customs clearance if you fill them out before shipment.

We supply all the necessary documents as a set, complete with an advice sheet to help you complete them. Please give us a call if you require some.

Finally, please feel free to call us or our any of our agents in the United States if you require any further advice on any aspect of your shipment. Remember also that our agents will be able to help you should you require shipping services after you have arrived. Please call us for full details of our US agents and their locations.

All information on this sheet is given for guidance only, and although we believe it to be correct at the time of writing, we do not accept any liability for errors, omissions, inaccuracies or misinterpretation. All charges, regulations and procedures are liable to change without notice.

HOW TO COMPLETE U.S. CUSTOMS FORM 3299

All individuals relocating to the U.S. must complete and sign the U.S. Customs Form 3299 in order to clear their unaccompanied household goods and personal effects through Customs. In order to make this task a little easier, below is a brief explanation of the meaning of certain words used in the form, and instructions for completion of the form itself.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

IMPORTER Yourself or if the move is a "family" move, the main household member (generally the person who is being relocated).

PERSONAL EFFECTS In general personal effects are clothing, jewellery, photographic and stereo equipment, tapes, CDs, vehicles etc.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS Household goods are items used to furnish a home, and cannot be classified as personal effects (see above).

FOREIGN Not American

ABROAD Outside of the USA

COMPLETION OF PART I

  1. Print your full name as it appears on your passport.
  2. Your date of birth.
  3. The date you personally arrive in the U.S., i.e. the date your flight arrives.
  4. Your U.S. address and/or telephone number. If you do not have a permanent address as yet, either your contact address and a telephone number, if possible.
  5. The name of the airport or port in the U.S. where you personally will clear Customs.
  6. The name of the airline etc. and the flight number on which you personally will travel to the U.S. (If available).
  7. The names of those in your family who will be going to stay in the U.S. with you, and their relationship to you.
  8. You are not required to fill in this box as it will be completed by Trans Euro.


COMPLETION OF PART II

  1. "X" the relevant box, and indicate in 9A where you last resided outside the U.S. and in 9B the length of time you have been living away from the U.S.. If you are a U.S. resident please also enter your social security number, and passport number in this box. If you are a non resident, please also enter you passport number, visa number and the type of visa on which you are entering the U.S.. "X" the relevant box in 9C.
  2. Read all the paragraphs in A, B, and C and mark the relevant boxes that apply to the contents of your shipment. Note the wording of these boxes - with the exception of box C2 they relate to "All" the relevant items, therefore, if you have one item that is not relevant you cannot mark the box.


RESIDENT AND NON-RESIDENT

Part A

  1. If "all " household effects in your shipment are more than one year old, and are for you or your family's use only "X" this box. If you have purchased any household effects in the last year, leave this box blank.
  2. If there are any items in your shipment, that are used by you for work purposes "X" this box.

RESIDENTS ONLY

Part B

  1. "X" this box if this statement applies to your shipment.

NON RESIDENT ONLY

Part C

  1. "X" this box, if "all " personal effects are for you or your family's use only, and are not for another person or re-sale.
  2. Means of conveyance = cars, scooters, go-karts, bicycles etc. If you are importing any of these "X" this box, even if Trans Euro are not transporting the item.

DO NOT COMPLETE ANY OF PART III

COMPLETION OF PART IV A - C

Part A. To be completed by every importer.

If any items mentioned in boxes 1-6 are included in our shipment you must mark the relevant box.

Part B. To be completed by every importer.

  1. If you have any household effects not of U.S. manufacture, acquired outside the U.S. not necessarily on this trip outside the U.S., and used for less than 1 year you should mark this box.

    NB: It will not be necessary for antique items to be declared as they are exempt from duty, however we would suggest that you have a "Certificate of Antiquity" available for Customs, if required.

  2. If you have any household effects not of U.S. manufacture, acquired outside the U.S. (not necessarily on this trip outside the U.S.), and used for more than 1 year you should mark this box. (It will not be necessary to list these items, as we will attach a copy of our packing inventory to the form).

Part C. To be completed by Residents only.

If any items mentioned in boxes 9 - 11 are included in your shipment, you must mark the relevant box.


COMPLETION OF PART IV D

If you have marked any of the boxes 1-11 overleaf, you must list the relevant items on this table.

In column (1) put the box number the items relate to.

In column (2) describe the items. If you are describing alcoholic beverages, show the number of bottles, the size of the bottles, value per bottle, type of beverage, alcohol content if wine or champagne and proof on hard liquor. If you are listing a large quantity of items of a particular type i.e. kitchenware, do not list separately each saucepan, and utensil, but make a heading "Kitchenware", the same with for instance furniture, do not list each bed, sofa, chair, etc. but make a heading "Furniture". In the case of an English person moving to the U.S. they may find that boxes 7 and 8 relate to the whole contents of their house. They should therefore, use headings such as Furniture, Soft furnishings, Electrical items, Linens, China, Pictures, Ornaments, Kitchenware, Garden items, etc. which would encompass the whole contents of their household.

In column (3) show the second hand value of each item, or each heading or in the case of Box 11 the cost of the repairs carried out. The value should be in U.S. dollars, if possible, or if in Pounds Sterling please make it clear that you have used this currency. Do not mix currencies.

In column (4) enter the requested details for any relevant items contained in your shipment.

Should you need additional space please continue on a separate sheet.

NB: If you have nothing to declare, please leave the above section blank, as our packing crew will prepare an inventory at the time of collection. This will be sufficient for customs clearance purposes.

CARELINE'S AGENT TRANS EURO COMPLETES PART V

COMPLETION OF PART VI

Mark Box B ( Importer) and sign and date in the relevant boxes.


DO NOT COMPLETE ANY OF PART VII

  • The Supplemental Declaration for Unaccompanied Personal and Household Effectsshould be self explanatory. Please ensure that you answer all the questions and sign and date the form.
  • In addition, please attach a copy of your passport and visa.

NOTE

All information on this page is given for guidance only, and although we believe it to be correct at the time of writing, we cannot accept any liability for errors, omissions, inaccuracies or misinterpretation. All charges, regulations and procedures are liable to change without notice.

This information is provided without obligation and at the individual's risk. We accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy of whatever nature.

 

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