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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.