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US issues new customs declarations form, features expanded definition of family members
Published on August 1, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

WASHINGTON, USA -- US Customs and Border Protection issued a new customs declaration form -- in print and online -- that expands the definition of family members for arriving travelers as, "members of a family residing in the same household who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption."

CBP has accepted this family definition since the final rule became effective January 17, 2014. The new form -- CBP Form 6059B -- provides the expanded definition in the first paragraph.

The recent regulation change allows more returning US citizens, residents and international visitors to file a joint customs declaration for items acquired abroad. This produces less paperwork for people traveling together as a family and streamlines passenger processing, thereby increasing efficiency for CBP, airline personnel and the traveling public.

Travelers may complete the declaration form online, print it and bring it on their trip to present to CBP when they arrive in the US or at a CBP preclearance site. Airlines and cruise lines also will hand out the declaration forms for travelers to complete before disembarking in the US.

• In addition to clarifying the definition of family members, the final rule also clarified the term domestic relationship which includes: foster children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and individuals with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship.

• Two adults who are in a committed relationship including, but not limited to, long-term companions and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships where the partners are financially interdependent, and are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else.

“Domestic relationship” does not extend to roommates or other cohabitants not otherwise meeting the above definition.

“Members of a family residing in one household” will continue to encompass relationships of blood, adoption and marriage.

How to use the new CBP Form 6059B

• Under the new definition of domestic relationship, one combined family declaration can now be presented to the CBP officer upon arrival.

• As with any joint declaration, verbal or written, the person making and/or signing the declaration will be held accountable for its validity.

• For returning US residents: To be considered members of a family and to group exemptions from customs duty and internal revenue tax, the travelers must have lived together in one household at their last permanent residence and intend to live together in one household in the US. Regulations allow US residents to combine the personal duty exemptions of each family member. For example, a family of five members returning directly from France would be entitled to a combined personal duty exemption of $4,000 ($800 x 5 individuals = $4,000).

• For international visitors: Regulations allow international visitors certain exemptions (gifts, tobacco, personal effects, etc,), and they can file a single family declaration. Before completing the form, review specific CBP information on duties and exemptions.
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