clearing someone else's goods

How To Import Goods For Someone Else — And Save Duty Fees!

By | 2018-12-05T19:29:04+00:00 December 5th, 2018|U.S. Customs|

When you think importing, what comes to mind?

We’re willing to bet you said cross-border shopping, or commercial importing, or even moving vehicles around… but what about importing personal goods that belong to someone else?

Whether you’re helping someone move or bringing them a gift, you may someday run into a situation where the personal items you’re importing aren’t your own — and to help you out, we’ve put together this quick guide! You can even avoid paying the duty on goods that aren’t your own in some specific circumstances, so read on:

Scenario: Helping Someone Move

Moving to a new country is a long, involved process not for the faint hearted. Helping a friend relocate cross-border is noble, but what, exactly, can you do for them at customs?

A lot, as it turns out — you could import all their goods for them if you had the right paperwork! If you want to import a friend or relative’s furniture and other personal items, here is what you’ll need:

  • A notarized letter giving you power of attorney and authorizing you to clear the goods
  • An itemized list of all goods you’re clearing for your friend or relative
  • A completed CBP Form 3299
  • A copy of a document confirming your legal status in America, whether that is a passport confirming citizenship, a visa confirming residence, or otherwise

If you can gather up these documents, you’ll be golden! You may even be able to import some of the goods duty-free, if they were in use or available for use in a household where their owner resided for at least a year, continuous or otherwise.

Scenario: Bringing Someone a Gift

Looking to bring someone in the United States a gift purchased abroad? Whether you’re a resident or not, the process is pretty straightforward. Of course, you’ll have to make sure the gift is actually legally allowed in America — bad news for anyone who wanted to bring back some absinthe — but once you’re verified their legal status, you just need to ensure you know the total value of each gift and have the proper paperwork.

Your gifts could have a gift for you, as well — duty exemptions! While gifts, both for others and ones you’ve received, do have to be declared, you can avoid duty charges in the following circumstances:

  • You are a U.S. resident who was in a foreign country (other than Mexico, Caribbean countries, or U.S. insular possessions) for 48 hours and your gifts are worth $800 USD or less
  • You are a U.S. resident who was in a U.S. insular possession and your gifts are worth $1,600 USD or less
  • You are a U.S. resident who was in a foreign country (other than Mexico, Caribbean countries, or U.S. insular possessions) for less than 48 hours and your gifts are worth $200 USD or less
  • You are a non-resident visiting the United States for 72 hours or more and your gifts are worth $100 USD or less
  • Your gifts were purchased in duty-free shops and do not exceed the value of the duty-free exemption of the country you are returning to the United States from
  • Your gifts are original paintings or antiques over 100 years old

Importing with a Customs Broker

Customs brokers are experts at clearing goods for other people — facilitating clearance is the definition of our jobs! If you need advice on how to clear goods for someone else, why not contact us today?