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Customs Guide United States

Excess Baggage Company has compiled this information sheet to help you to understand what happens when you ship your personal effects to the USA, and to inform you of procedures once your shipment arrives at the relevant port of entry. Please try and take time to read the information carefully and please contact us or our US agents if you require further clarification of any of the points outlined below - we are all available to help you.

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

Air Freight
Arrival in the USA
X-ray and Examination Fees
Customs Regulations
Customs Clearance

Air Freight
There are hundreds of transatlantic flights every week, and because of number of consignments that we move we have been able to negotiate very competitive rates with the airlines to the United States. Air-freight charges are based on weight. Our staff will weigh and measure your shipment on collection, and it will be charged on whichever is higher, the actual or volumetric weight. If your shipment is a small one - under about 35kg (approx. 80lbs) in weight, it may cost about the same, or even actually be cheaper depending on the destination, to send it door to door by air.

If you have such a shipment, and are considering sending it by air, just call us for a quotation. As well as the possibility of air-freight being cheaper than sea-freight for the smaller shipment, there is the benefit of a faster transit time - usually between five and ten days to most US destinations. If you want to make a further saving, we offer another service to 'arrival airport' only. This means you can collect your shipment from the receiving agent at the airport. On this service to 'arrival airport,' there will be a fee for airline handling and unloading which must be paid to the destination agent when you collect your goods.

Arrival in the USA
Our computer system will automatically generate a shipping advice email which will be sent to the email address you supply us with, giving you the name of the vessel your shipment is on, the arrival date into the port, the destination agent and other important details. This notification is usually sent a week after the vessel sails.

Our destination agent will contact you before the vessel arrives regarding clearance formalities and request further details regarding the access at your delivery point.

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. Clearance normally takes 8-15 days, but this time frame can vary during the year. Deliveries times do vary between States but are usually between 7-21 days, our agents will contact you to make arrangements for a suitable delivery date.

X-ray and Examination Fees
Due to strict security control at ports more and more containers are being x-rayed and examined upon arrival in the United States. If this happens then our agent will contact you regarding payment for the x-ray (vacis) and/or examination fees. Some containers may also incur demurrage at the wharf. This is usually caused by a hold being placed on the container so it can not be collected from the port until authorised by Customs. As we can not predict if or how much these charges are they are not covered in any invoice you pay here.

Customs Regulations
You must be present in the United States and you must have status to live in the United States in order for your consignment to clear customs. Door to door shipments include informal Customs clearance on Customs Form 3299. Shipments of antiques, commercial goods (including new items) or special purchases require formal Customs entry for which additional charges apply.

Please note that we do not accept firearms (including air, gas, and starting pistols), gun replicas, fireworks, explosives, narcotics, drugs, incitements, pornographic material, unprocessed furs & skins, food, alcohol and paint in both sea and air freight consignments. Please note that all gas bottles for diving tanks, gas stoves and barbeques etc must be empty and free of gas. Garden implements, outdoor furniture, golf clubs, tents, camping equipment, barbeques, shoes, bicycles, buggies/prams need to be cleaned thoroughly and be free of dirt, soil, grass, food etc. All dangerous goods are prohibited by sea and air shipments.

If you are importing a motor vehicle please contact our vehicle shipping department for further information.

Customs Clearance
All shipments entering the United States must be cleared through Customs. There are some documents which must be completed for your goods to clear Customs. We will supply you all the necessary documents as a set, complete with an advice sheet to help you complete them. These forms need to be completed before your shipment can be loaded and they must be originals (photo-copied/faxed/emailed copies are not accepted by US Customs).

The main form for clearance is the 'Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles' also known as Customs form 3299. We also require the 'Power of Attorney' and the 'Supplemental Declaration'. Together with these forms you will need to complete a packing list or inventory. You will also need to supply the photo page of your passport and a copy of the visa page (if applicable). 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.

We will then forward it these documents to our agent in the United States in advance of the vessel arriving at the port.

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.

Baggage Shipping to USA - Quote Me or for more information or advice on Baggage Shipping, please feel free to contact our dedicated Baggage Shipping team on 0800 5244 822, +44 (0)20 8324 2066.


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