Shipping by Mail

All packages mailed into the United States are subject to inspection by the U.S. Customs Service.

The U.S. Postal Service forwards any foreign packages it receives to the U.S. Customs Service. The Customs Service examines packages and determines if they should be entered as "dutiable" or duty free.

Packages that contain dutiable items are affixed with Customs Form 3419, explaining the amount of duty assessed. The packages then are returned to the Postal Service for delivery.

It is the Postal Service's responsibility to collect the duty fee, as well as a postal handling charge and a small Customs Service processing fee for dutiable shipments.

Packages cleared by customs and determined to be free of duty are endorsed on the outside with the words "Passed Free—U.S. Customs" and returned to the Postal Service for delivery. These packages are not assessed additional postage or handling fees.

If a package mailed into the States is found to contain restricted or prohibited items, the contents are subject to seizure and forfeiture.

Packages that are undeliverable are returned to the country of origin.

Any personal belongings of U.S. origin that were taken out of the States may be mailed back into the country free of duty, provided the items were not altered or repaired while abroad. To expedite the customs process, label any such packages as "American Goods Returned."

There are procedures for protesting customs duties. For more information on mailing items into the United States, contact the U.S. Customs Service and request Publication 514, "International Mail Imports."

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