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U.S. Customs: Duty-Free Exemption

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The amount of your duty-free exemption depends on the country you are returning from. In most cases, each individual is allowed to bring back $400 worth of goods without being required to pay duty. Family members traveling together and living in the same home may combine their personal exemptions by filing a joint declaration. These exemptions apply if:

  • The items you are bringing back are for your personal or household use.
  • They are in your possession (that is, they accompany you) when you return to the United States. Items to be sent later may not be included in your $400 duty-free exemption.
  • They are declared to Customs. If you do not declare something that should have been declared, you risk forfeiting it. If in doubt, declare it.
  • You are returning from an overseas stay of at least 48 hours. This time limit does not apply if you are returning from Mexico or from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • You have not used your exemption, or any part of it, in the past 30 days. If you use part of your exemption - for example, if you go to England and bring back $150 worth of items - you must wait another 30 days before you are allowed another $400 exemption.
  • The items are not prohibited or restricted.

If you are returning directly from certain Caribbean Basin countries your customs exemption will be $600 and if you return directly or indirectly from the U.S Virgin Islands, American Samoa or Guam, you are allowed a $1200 exemption. If traveling to one of the countries mentioned above, you may wish to check in with your nearest Customs office for specific details.

U.S Customs > Making a Declaration > Duty-Free Exemption > Duty-Free Shops > Paying a Duty > Prohibited and Restricted Items

This is only a guide. For more information, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

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