US Customs Question

I’m going to be moving back to the United States after having lived abroad for a few years. In coming back to the country, do I have to follow the same rules as returning tourists ($400 duty-free allowance, 10% after that) or are there some special rules? I did a quick search on google (having failed to find anything on the customs website) which brought up some results suggesting that in at least some countries, posessions held 6 months prior to returning home are duty-free. Any chance that the US is like that? Because I really don’t fancy the idea of having to pay a 10% tax on everything I’ve acquired over the last few years.

I think you’re right - ordinary personal possessions are treated differently than purchases made during a brief trip abroad. Why don’t you talk to whatever company is going to be shipping your stuff? They usually take care of Customs issues anyway.

How about contacting the embassy in Japan? If anyone should have the right information it should be them.

I don’t have MS Word on my machine, but it looks like this DOC file off of the U.S. Customs website might help.

Hey, TextEdit can read DOC files! Cool.

How long is “a few years”? If it’s more than three, you can enter as a “non-resident”, and you’ll be treated as a first-time immigrant to the country for Customs purposes. If not, you’ll be considered a “returning resident.” This distinction only really affects how much you can bring in in the way of gifts, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, though; for both cases,

I won’t be using a shipping company. Most of what I’m taking back with be accompanying me at the airport.

Didn’t find anything on their website, but I’ll e-mail them.

2 years, 363 days.

Thanks for the doc. It seems right on. If I’m reading the section entitled ‘General Procedures for Importing Household and Personal Effects’ correctly, I should be in the clear. My primary concern was having to pay duties on my CDs, DVDs, laptop, and software, which seems to be covered, judging by the sample invoice.

Just enough to carry with two bags?

If you have more than that, why not mail it back to the US? Besides, if you are moving back to the US and already have a job lined up, your trip home (and any shipping of belongings) meets the IRS requirement as moving expenses.