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Old April 21st, 2004, 05:20 AM   #1
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U.S. Customs

Does anyone know what exactly transpires when a returning U.S. expat arrives at the Customs desk with a case full of video equipment?

I've heard conflicting things...some say that if the equipment is over a year old, you pay no taxes on it, while othes say that if the equipment is considered "professional" (meaning anything other than a palm-size camcorder), you'll have to pay taxes regardless of age. But if so, based on what value?

To complicate things, I've got some equipment that was purchased from the U.S. and sent overseas, which I'm told I'll still have to pay tax on.

Sheesh. Confusing.

P.S. I called Customs over here, but they really didn't offer much insight about the details. Really surprising. They just kept saying over and over "Some items may require that taxes be paid, and that will be determined at the port of entry." They also recommended I ship some items individually home by FedEx or mail, and that as long as I sent no more than one box with a value of less than $2,000 per day, that I wouldn't pay any taxes at all (strange advice coming from Customs, don't you think?). I called FedEx and they said they'd never heard this and then said they don't ship "Personal items" (What?!). UPS refused to ship anything because I'm not a business. And the Post office here says there is no such $2,000 a day exemption for the U.S. Holy moly...does anyone know the real story?
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Old April 21st, 2004, 05:43 AM   #2
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The only way you are going to get a straight answer is talking to the right person in customs. You could of course take a chance with just taking the stuff through.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 11:49 AM   #3
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I recently left the US with a GL2, associated other accessories, mics, lights etc. I called customs to find out how to be able to come back into the US with my gear without paying for it again. I had to go to a Customs office with the gear and a list of serial numbers. They put it on a form which I then showed at the border when re-entering the US.

Since you are already out of the country, I'm not sure how it would work in your case.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 12:10 PM   #4
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What about DHL? DHL usually seems to be on the ball when it comes to international shipping since they've been doing it for so much longer than FedEx or UPS. Used to be that if you wanted anything shipped internationally without being at the mercy of post, DHL was the only way to go. Just a thought...
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Old April 21st, 2004, 12:32 PM   #5
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stand by

John,
My assistant's hubby is a INS (now home land security) agent.
Let me float this past her and see what we can come up with.
Rgds.,
Dan
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Old April 21st, 2004, 12:36 PM   #6
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Great, now John's gonna get stripsearched at the border.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 12:53 PM   #7
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As long as it isn't a cavity search...
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Old April 21st, 2004, 02:02 PM   #8
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here ya go......free pass

He should be fine and not have to pay anything. Just make sure he can prove the equipment was bought in the US and that the equipment looks like it has been used. This holds true whether he is transporting it cargo personal or is transporting it on his person.

.....directly from the customs person in charge of the Port of Anchorage.........

No cavity search is required <;~)
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