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Removals to Europe, UK and Overseas Moving Service

Removals to USA: Customs Information

International Removals to USA . Removals to America . Moving House Overseas

International removals to USA and other overseas destinations are more complicated than moving house within the UK due to the Customs & Excise regulations applied to importing your belongings. It’s vitally important to understand the regulations before arranging shipping to America, as non-compliance can result in significant costs and fines or, in some cases, prosecution.

Below is a guide to current American Customs & Excise regulations. Please note that information is correct at time of publishing but may change at any time. Hamiltons American removals department will guide you through all relevant Customs & Excise regulations as part of our removals to USA service.

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Shipping to America - USA Customs Information

Removals to the USA may include used household and personal effects duty free providing that they have been owned and used by you for a least one year before they arrive in the USA.  In order to prove their eligibility for duty free status and finalise the clearance, you must have arrived in the country prior to the arrival of your effects. It is vital to set your own arrival date before arranging shipping to America. Customs forms must also be completed in the UK ready for presentation to US customs before the arrival of your consignment.

Most household and personal effects entering the USA will be subject to examination by US customs. These can range from a container x-ray through to a full physical examination.  Checks can incur costs, which unfortunately cannot be pre-paid in the UK.  Charges can be made for x-ray, handling and re-stowing of effects, container demurrage and port storage. You should be aware that if a full examination is required then the cost could run to thousands of dollars.

We will require the following documentation to clear your goods through customs.

  • US customs form 3299
  • Treasury department 3299 supplemental declaration RC-159
  • Power of attorney
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy visa
  • Inventory of goods (this will be completed by our removal team)

All of the above forms can be obtained from our international department when you arrange shipping to America.

Shipping to America - Restrictions/Prior Authorisation Required

Alcohol - duty is payable on all alcohol brought into the USA and in some states it is prohibited.  The rates of duty and taxes are very high and are based on the type and strength of the alcohol.  For this reason, we do not advise that you include any alcohol in unaccompanied shipments.

Food - absolutely no food or beverage may be included in the shipment, including dried foods, spices, pre-packaged or canned food. (Alcohol is the only exception as detailed above).

Firearms - in order to import a firearm that was acquired overseas, you will need an approved US Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) permit.

Other prohibited articles include lottery tickets, narcotics and dangerous drugs, obscene articles and publications, fireworks, dangerous toys, toxic or poisonous substances and switchblade knives.

Ivory - due to the international ban on the import/export of ivory, pianos that have ivory keys should either not be sent at all, or should be sent separately. 

Shipping to America - Motor Vehicles

Only vehicles that were originally manufactured in the USA can be shipped with a consignment of household effects, unless the vehicle is over 25 years old. Customs clearance on non-US vehicles can only be carried out by specialised customs agents, and with the added costs of shipping, duty, customs bonding and conversion, the charges can quite often exceed the value of the car. We recommend if you do wish to include your car that you contact the US Department of Transportation in advance of your move for more advice.

We will require the following documentation for motor vehicles:

  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of ownership
  • Steam cleaning certificate
  • Copy of US Title
  • Letter from manufacturer stating the vehicle meets US emissions standards

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Other Useful Information

Electrical supply: 110-115 volts.  Domestic appliances from the UK will not operate without a transformer.

TV/DVD/Videos: Unless designed for American systems, these items will not function.

Mobile networks:   Most foreign mobile telephones, unless tri-band, do not work.  Network operators offering the closest to nationwide coverage include AT&T Wireless, Cingular and Verizon.

Time Differences:

  • New York is in Eastern Standard Time (EST) = GMT -5 hours
  • Chicago is in Central Standard Time (CST) = GMT -6 hours
  • Los Angeles is in Pacific Standard Time (PST) = GMT -8 hours

USA Dialling code:  +1

International Removals to USA - Click here for a free detailed quote of your move, or contact us to discuss your requirements.

Click here to download the required customs documentation
Click here for information about completing the customs documentation


Removals to USA | Moving to America Relocation Guide | Shipping to America Customs Information| Removals to Los Angeles | Removals to Chicago | Removals to New York | Removals to San Francisco | Removals to Washington | Removals to Houston