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Moving to the USA? What you can and can’t take with you

The United States is very strict on items that can be imported duty free into the country.  Firstly, you must have owned the items for at least 12 months prior to arriving in the States.  Secondly, you can’t sell any of these items for at least 12 months after importation.

You need to make 2 inventories, one for household goods and one for personal effects.  Household goods include such things as furniture and furnishings, art work, books, curtains and linen.  Personal effects include items such as clothing, jewellery, phones, laptops and cameras.  US Customs and Border Protection expects very detailed lists, down to the titles of books to be imported.

Importing a Vehicle
Importing a vehicle into the States is expensive and the vehicle also needs to meet the safety, fuel saving and air pollution standards of the United States.  It is possible to modify some vehicles but again, the cost can be prohibitive, so it’s recommended to buy a car on arrival.

If you do decide to import your vehicle, it must be thoroughly cleaned inside and out;  that includes the engine, wheels and wheel arches and the underneath of the car.  Border Centre gives you detailed information on all the rules, regulations and forms that need to be completed before importing your vehicle.

The simple rule is that if your vehicle, motor cycle or trailer doesn’t conform to US DOT/EPA regulations, then don’t ship it.   If you ship a vehicle that you’ve owned for less than 12 months, you will be liable for 2.5% duty on the value of the vehicle.

Food and Alcohol You Can and Can’t Take into the United States
Note that some States don’t allow wine and alcoholic beverages to be imported and will confiscate them.  The importation of absinthe has some interesting restrictions: it must be thujone-free, “absinthe” cannot be the brand name on the bottle and the label mustn’t hint at hallucinogenic effects.

The first thing to remember is that you must declare all food that is brought into the States, failure to do so can result in a $10,000 fine.  The United States is determined to ensure that products which can bring plant pests and animal diseases into the country, are banned.  Banned or restricted food products include all meat, and products containing meat, even if the product is in a tin, fruit and vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, plus any product which is made from plant materials or animal products.  If in doubt, ask.

Importing Pets
Taking your pet with you to the States is exceptionally easy.  There are far less restrictions than in other countries.  If your pet is arriving from a rabies free country, all it needs is a health certificate.  However, all States require a rabies certificate, so it’s best to get this done before departure.  Only birds and exotic pets are quarantined.

Banned or Restricted Items
– Pornographic material
– Drugs
– Skins and unprocessed furs
– Items made from dog or cat fur
– Unlicensed firearms
– Dangerous goods
– Plants (cut flowers are generally allowed)
– Meat and products containing meat
– Fruit and veg – banned or need an import permit
– Hoverboards
– Cars, motorbikes and trailers that don’t conform to DOT/EPA regulations
– Switchblade knives

For cigar lovers, Cuban cigars and no longer on the banned list.

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