Guide: International Removals to America

Personal and household effects can be imported duty and tax free, providing they have been owned and used by the client for at least one year before their arrival in the USA. The client must have arrived in the country prior to the arrival of the effects in order to prove their eligibility for duty free status and finalise the clearance. If duty free exemption is not required the client does not have to be in the country. In either case all customs forms must be completed in the UK ready for presentation to US customs at time of consignment arrival.

Due to heightened security measures, most containers of household and personal effects entering the USA are subject to examination by US customs. Checks can range from container x-ray through to full physical examination. All checks made by customs incur costs which cannot be pre-paid in the UK. These include, but are not limited to: x-ray; handling and re-stowing of effects; container demurrage; port storage. Importers should beware that if a full examination is required, the costs could range into the thousands of dollars.

Required documentation for household goods only:

  • US customs form 3299
  • Treasury department 3299 supplemental declaration RC-159
  • Power of attorney
  • Copy of entry Visa
  • Copy of passport
  • Packing list (completed by packing crew)

Can I bring a car?

Due to stringent emissions standards, only vehicles which have been originally manufactured in the USA can be shipped with a consignment of household effects. The only exception to this is vehicles over 25 years old. Only specialised customs agents are allowed to perform customs clearance on non-US vehicles, which means they must be sent separately from the main shipment. The eventual cost of shipping, duty, customs bonding and conversion usually results in charges far greater than the value of the vehicle. Any person wanting to ship their vehicle is recommended to contact the US Dept of Transportation well before the move.

Required documentation for motor vehicles:

  • Proof of ownership
  • Steam cleaning certificate
  • Copy of US Title
  • Vehicle registration
  • Letter from manufacturer to show vehicle meets US emissions standards.

What you can and can't take with you

Wines, spirit and beer are all dutiable and prohibited in some states. The rates of duty and taxes are extremely high and are based on the type and strength of the liquor/alcoholic beverage. It is not advisable to include any alcohol in unaccompanied shipments.

Absolutely no food or beverages (see exception above) may be included in the shipment. This includes dried foods, spices and pre-packaged or canned food.

Firearms acquired overseas require an approved US Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) permit before importation. Firearms acquired in the US can be re-imported by the same person provided firearms were registered with US customs before being exported from the US.

Because of the international ban on the import/export of ivory, pianos with ivory keys require specialised documentation for importation and ideally should be either excluded from the shipment or sent separately. We highly advise against the shipping of any ivory-keyed piano.

Additional information


The electrical supply in the United States is 110-115 volts. Domestic appliances from the UK will not work/operate without a transformer.

Televisions, DVDs and video recorders/players which are not designed for the American system will not function. This includes video tapes.


Eastern Standard Time (EST) New York -5 hours
Central Standard Time (CST) Chicago - 6 hours
Pacific Standard Time (PST) Los Angeles - 8 hours

Country dialling code

00 1 (followed by local code)

To discuss your international removal to America, contact our team on:

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