Standard Duty-Free Exemption
Your duty-free exemption, also
called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you
may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You
may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay
duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is $800, but there
are some exceptions to this rule.
The duty-free exemption applies if:
- The items are for your personal
or household use.
- They are in your possession when
you return to the United States. Items to be sent later may not
be included in your $800 duty-free exemption.
- The items are declared to
Customs. If you do not declare all items that you obtained
during your trip, you risk forfeiting them.
- You are returning from an
overseas stay of at least 48 hours.
- You have not used your
exemption, or any part of it, in the past 30 days. If you use
part of your exemption you must wait another 30 days before you
are allowed another $800 exemption.
- The items are not prohibited or
Family members who live in the same
home and return together to the United States may combine their
standard personal exemptions. Children and infants are allowed the
same exemption as adults, except for alcoholic beverages and tobacco
products. Only 1 liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars
may be included in this exemption. Items purchased in "Duty
Free" shops are subject to duty if the value of your total
purchases exceeds $800.
Your Duty-Free Allowance
If your cruise ship returns directly
or indirectly from a U.S. insular possession (on Caribbean cruises
that would be one of the U.S. Virgin Islands), you are allowed a
$1,600 duty-free exemption.
If you travel to a U.S. Virgin Island and to one or more of the
countries in the Caribbean Basin or Andean countries listed on the
U.S. Customs web site during your Caribbean cruise, you may bring
back $1,600 worth of items without paying duty, but only $800 worth
of these items may come from the Caribbean Basin or Andean
country/countries. Any amount beyond $800 will be dutiable unless
you acquired it in one of the insular possessions. For example, if
you were to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Jamaica, you would
be allowed to bring back $1,600 worth of merchandise duty free, as
long as only $800 worth was acquired in Jamaica.
Also, you may include 1,000 cigarettes as part of the $1600
exemption, but at least 800 of them must have been acquired in the
U.S. Virgin Islands. Only 200 cigarettes may have been acquired
elsewhere. Similarly, you may include five liters of alcoholic
beverages in your duty-free exemption, but one of them must be a
product of the U.S. Virgin Island (such as Cruzan Rum and Southern
Comfort). Four liters may be products of other countries.
For more information on duty-free
exemptions, please read U.S. Customs "Know Before You Go"
brochure. This publication is also available on the U.S. Customs Service web site.
Your Cruise Vacation,
It's Your Duty To Shop, But It Won't Be Free
Facts about Cruise Ships