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Sid1962 May 18th, 2011 06:35 AM

Made in USA - Duty Free?

Recently we were told that goods manufactured in the USA, even if they are purchased abroad, are exempt from customs duty. We knew that loose gems fell under this, but were surprised to be told that other goods made in the USA would fall under that category.

Specifically, we were told that Kabana jewlry as well as David Yurman jewelry fell under this category.

I did a little research and know that both are designed in the USA, and I think Kabana is definately made here. David Yurman is made in several places around the globe.

So, my question to all of you seasoned travelers is: has anyone else heard that, and if so, please share your comments. We were also told that US Customs has a list of these types of goods. I have tried to find such list, but have not been successful.

We realize that you need to declare everything, and we do. Thus far we have stayed within the exemption limits. But if in fact what I have asked is true, then there is some flexibilty with those limits depending on what may be on this so called list.

Any thoughts are as always greatly appreciated.

Mike M May 18th, 2011 07:48 AM


I think this is not completely true. I do know that NAFTA eliminates duty on many items made in the U.S., purchased by Canadian citizens returning to Canada, but not for American's bringing anything back into the U.S. that was purchased abroad.

I just read through the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol regulations and I can't find any mention of this.

In my opinion you will still pay duty if it was purchased outside the U.S. and exceeds your personal allowance of $800.

Take care,

Manuel May 18th, 2011 12:33 PM

We travel quite a bit, but we never buy more than the the personal allowence.


Bruce Chafkin1 May 18th, 2011 05:09 PM

In the USA, the CBP doesn't generally care where your merchandise was made (except for Cuba and a few other places).
They only care where you bought the merchandise.

If the total value of the goods you are bringing into the USA are over the limit, then they want their cut.

Some people who try to smuggle alcohol onto ships and have it confiscated (and returned to them on the last day of the cruise) are very dismayed to learn that they can be charged import duty on alcohol they purchased in the USA. They rarely remember to keep their receipts. And even if they have the receipts, they cannot prove that the alcohol they are carrying back into the USA is the exact same alcohol they claim to have purchased before their cruise.

Lakers Fan May 19th, 2011 12:09 AM

Our purchases are basically tee shirts and books .

Sid1962 May 19th, 2011 05:59 PM


First off, thanks to all for you responses.

I emailed the CBP and this is what I received as an answer:
U.S. made goods returning to the United States are usually eligible for duty-free treatment. The provision 9801.00.10 in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) allows U.S. made products to return to the U.S. without duty requirements. However, the provision stipulates the goods value could not have been advanced nor the condition improved while abroad. In other words, if an item was repaired or improved, duty could be owed on either the fair market value of the labor or the item as it has been changed.

For instance, if you take gold to India, where it is then made into jewelry, the gold can not be re-entered into the U.S. free of charge. Nor is the value of the gold deductable from the value of the finished jewelry. To claim goods under this provision, proof of U.S. origin is required (i.e., country of origin marking or a certificate of origin from manufacture).

When clearing returning U.S. goods through Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the importer should file a CBP Form 3311 Declaration for Free Entry of Returned American Products.

What are the requirements for importing diamonds, jewelry, stones, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, pearls, jade, etc.?
Commercial imports of diamonds, jewelry, pearls, and precious and semi-precious stones valued at $2,000 or more require a formal entry. Please see the guidelines for formal entries in our publication entitled "Importing Into the United States". A license is not required to import these items for commercial purposes; however, a Customs bond CBP Form 301 is required for all formal entries. You can obtain a bond from a surety company. A list of sureties is available on the Treasury Web site. You may also want to consider hiring a Custom Broker to file your entries on your behalf. A list of Customs Brokers in your area can be obtained by referring to the ports page, then by selecting the "State and City", and "Customs Brokers."

The Patriot Act also establishes requirements for dealers in gems and precious metals. The Financial Center is the agency responsible for developing regulations regarding registration and compliance programs. Information may also be found on the Jewelers Vigilance Committee's Web site.*

*The Jewelers Vigilance Committee is a private association, and the link to their information should not be construed as an endorsement.

Personal imports of these items are usually cleared informally and do not require a Customs bond. However, if you purchased them while you were abroad, ensure you declare them when clearing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the CBP Form 6059B. Imports of diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires and emeralds from countries with normal trade relation status are duty-free as long as they are not permanently strung, set or mounted. Additional duty rates for these items can be found in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) in chapter 71. When these items are set or mounted with some sort of metal, they are classified as jewelry and subject to duty. These rates can also be found in chapter 71. Please be aware that there are sanctions against diamonds imported from Sierra Leone, UNITA (Angola), and Liberia. Additional information on sanctions against diamonds from these countries can be found Office of Foreign Assets Control's Web site . This does not apply to other precious stones.

Jade Act of 2008: Jadeite or ruby stones mined or extracted from Burma may not be imported into the U.S. See Enforcement of the Burmese JADE Act. If you wish to import jadeite or rubies for personal or commercial use, you must prove that the jewelry or stones were not manufactured, mined or extracted from Burma.

So it would appear that in some instances you could actually bring back more than your allowance. Of course you would need to declare it and make sure you had proof of where it was manufactured, which may not be all that easy to determine....or maybe it would be. But then who has a CBP form 3311 with them usually? But the fact seems to be that there are goods that are exempt.

Again, thanks for your input....

Manuel May 20th, 2011 05:13 AM

Where would one find stuff made in the US overseas?

I can't even find it here. :confused:


Sid1962 May 20th, 2011 08:10 AM


Good one, and certainly with a loud ring of truth !

I do still need to write back to them and ask if, even thought these items are duty exempt, do they still count toward your exemption limit. I think the answer is no, but best to have the answer from the CBP.

If Mrs. S. gets wind of this (Kabana falls clearly under this, and she does love Kabana), and they do not count toward the exemption limit, I may have a problem !

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