Border Crossing

Transporting Goods Into USA

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a service to our visitors and no guarantee is made as to its completeness or correctness. All information should be independently verified with the relevant authorities.

The best rule of thumb to remember when crossing the border is that just about everything you bring in from another country can be subject to duty. Certain items may be considered duty free at the time of entrance a) according to how many you are importing at the time (such as cigarettes or alcohol), and/or b) if you meet other criteria, for example: you are outside the country for a specific period of time (and have not qualified for this exemption previously within a set amount of time).

Citizens returning to the U.S. from Canada can qualify for an exemption if they have been out of the country for more than 48 hours and have not claimed this exemption within the last 30 days. Family members can combine their declarations for most items. Citizens who have been outside of the country for less than 48 hours are eligible for an exemption (family declarations cannot be combined).

It is important to note that these monetary exemptions only apply to those items that are considered duty-free. Examples of duty free items are as follows:

  • 1 liter of alcohol (the declarer must be 21 years old or older; the alcohol must be for personal use or intended as a gift)

  • gifts you received during your stay that fit within your allowed exemption

  • If you have been out of the country 48 hours or longer: 200 previously exported tobacco products (Cuban cigars purchased in Canada are prohibited from entering the United States); if you have been outside less than 48 hours, 50 previously exported tobacco products.

  • Items purchased in a "Duty-free" store.

Tips to remember:

  • Items that exceed the permitted exemption are subject to duty.

  • Medications can not be declared under the exemption. There are specific regulations governing the importation of narcotic substances and other medications.

  • Items that were grown, manufactured or produced in Canada may be eligible for free or reduced duty under the North American Free Trade Act. You will need to ask if the particular item is eligible.

The above information is presented to assist you in your travels. For additional information, please visit either of the following web sites:

More Information

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) telephone numbers for customer service:

  • Local: 202-354-1000

  • Toll-free (from US): 1-877-227-5511.

Also see telephone numbers listed under "Ports of Entry". For additional information, please visit either of the following web sites:

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)


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