Listen to what Larry said. The US customs people are generally very easy to work with...however they are in a position to make your like miserable. If theyMessage 1 of 15 , Aug 30, 2003View SourceListen to what Larry said.
The US customs people are generally very easy to work with...however
they are in a position to make your like miserable. If they catch you
once, they will be looking for you the next time. Remember they scan
you passport when you enter the country.
You have everything to loose and nothing to gain by NOT being honest.
Not declaring everything you bought overseas is industrial strength
stupid. You can bring back all of the trains you want for free plus
$800 in other stuff before they charge you.
I agree that Z is small but all you need to is to get caught once and
you have problems. Why not just be honest, declare it, and save
yourself some grief.
San Antonio, TX
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... Telling the truth may have saved my butt (perhaps literally). A few years ago, when returning to SFO from Frankfurt, an agent (Customs or Immigration, I mMessage 1 of 15 , Aug 31, 2003View Source
> Why not just be honest, declare it, and saveTelling the truth may have saved my butt (perhaps literally). A few
> yourself some grief.
years ago, when returning to SFO from Frankfurt, an agent (Customs or
Immigration, I'm not sure) pulled me aside before reaching the
inspection tables. He was sure he had seen me before (not in a good
way), even though I hadn't been out of the country in 10 years. He
didn't care for my joke ("all gray-bearded fat guys look alike" [well,
we DO]), and he started dishing out some grief with all kinds of weird
questions. He looked at my declaration sheet, which listed the
my-wife-would-kill-me-if-I-were-married amount of model trainZ (thanks
to very pleasant visits to Schmidt and Scholz, and tips from Augie
Jagau). He put two and two together, and came up "geek." Off I went,
and I couldn't even open my Z-bag to show-off the cool stuff to anyone
with a badge.
... Allow me to add another word of caution, based on very personal experiance: The USCustoms computer database has a very, VERY long memory. Should one getMessage 1 of 15 , Sep 1, 2003View Source
> Z stuff is so small and easily hidden in a suitcase....why bother toAllow me to add another word of caution, based on very personal
> declare it at all?
The USCustoms computer database has a very, VERY long memory. Should
one get caught with undeclared items, the traveller may be able to
prove that they are not dutiable. (By the way, thanks to the member
who supplied the customs classification number for model trains!) But
you can be sure that an entry about the attempted deceit will be made
in the traveller's record and that will flash on screen for every
Customs official as long as one owns a passport!
I was an officier at a company that had disagreement with Customs
about an import freight shipment. It took many months before the case
was finally closed and USCustoms agreed that the importation was bona
fide and legal. But somewhere during those months, notations were
made in the files of myself and at least one other corporate officer.
For what appeared to be unknown reasons, that other person and I
often seemed to spend more time clearing Customs than other
travellers. More than 5 years after I had left the company, I was
stopped at USCustoms and had a rare opportunity to get a peak at the
screen; I was shocked to find that the original allegation was
flashing in front of the Customs officer with NO information of the
final outcome. It took the intervention of our US Senator and
Congressman (again many months and legal fees!) to get the files
cleansed of the outdated and incorrect information. Since then, I
have had no unreasonable delays at Customs.
Sorry for the somewhat-off-topic-post, but the bliss of traveling and
bring home Z treasures should not be ruined by a blithe disregard for
the potential consequences of an act of ommission.
(My wife and I normally prepare a neat handwritten list of items we
are bringing back with their $ values and we hand that to the officer
with an offer to provide the receipts -- which are in our other hand
where they can be seen. Such a helpful and open gesture goes a long
way to making our return to the US more pleasent that it might
otherwise be. Usually a quick glance at the organized list is followd
by a polite "welcome home.")
But you should have got the VAT back at the airport before you left Germany (or whatever European country you visited) - ask the retailer to give you theMessage 1 of 15 , Sep 2, 2003View SourceBut you should have got the VAT back at the airport before you left Germany
(or whatever European country you visited) - ask the retailer to give you
the necessary forms, etc., next time
Thanks - I will.