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Proof of what you already own

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Although this discussion gives examples for on U.S. customs processes, the basic precepts apply widely.

If you plan to travel to other countries, you don't want to risk paying duty as you return on what you already own and take on your trip, especially valuables. As you return from any international trip, you can be charged duty on all valuables you have with you that exceed your duty exemption.

For fine jewelry, new model cameras, electronics, computers, etc., your government's customs bureau likely offers a means to avoid the problem. As an example for U.S. citizens, you can go to the Customs web-site, (e.g., [1] to get essential information) such as "Know Before You Go. There you should be able to start paperwork that can identify valuables you want to take. For most people, the latter steps (with different forms) are essentially...

  • Fill out on-line as many forms (e.g., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Forms 4457) as needed to precisely describe the items you're likely to take on any international trip. Then print them.
  • Take the items, the forms and proof of ownership to a Customs office, and as the agent sees them, he/she can certify on the forms that you already own the items. (A web site that supports such forms should also offer a link that will help you locate a CBP office.)
  • Take whatever valuables you choose and related 4457s on your trip, and have them handy for Customs inspection as you return to your home country.

Original store receipts from merchants in your country can be a fair substitute for proof of prior ownership if you lack time or access to a customs office before your trip. Even if dated well-before your trip, receipts from overseas sellers often have little standing. Don't count on getting customs forms certified as you depart your country; it takes time and Customs officers may well be busy.

This travel topic is an outline and should either be merged into an appropriate parent topic or else developed further. It has a template, but there is not enough information present for it to be of real use. It was last edited on 2013-05-14 and will be merged or deleted if not modified for one year. Please plunge forward and rescue it!

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