Relocating from Canada to the United States is a relatively straightforward process, providing all of the necessary documentation is properly completed. Your personal household goods and personal effects are permitted to enter duty-free providing they have been in your possession and used by you for at least one year.
Goods which don't meet this criteria are subject to assessed duty which ranges from 2% to 25%. These percentages are subject to change, so you should check with the nearest U.S. Consulate office to obtain the current rates of duty.
One cautionary note - if you do not declare new items or understate the value of the items, U.S. Customs can confiscate the items, assess actual duty and assign a monetary penalty. Therefore, if you are considering making purchases of expensive items, prior to your move, you may want to compare the cost to actually making your purchase in the United States.
Antiques must be 100 years or older to be eligible for duty-free entry. Customs will require that you prove this, so be prepared to furnish a receipt or an appraisal.
You will be required to complete the United State's Treasury Form #3299 (Declaration of Free Entry of Articles Not Accompanying a Resident or Non-Resident)
While it is not normal practice to charge duty on used personal items, technically, some items such as jewelry, photographic equipment, vehicles, consumable articles etc.. may be dutiable. You should check with the nearest U.S. Consulate in your area for specific information. If you are already in the United states, contact your nearest Customs Office listed in U.S. telephone directories under: U.S. Government Offices, Treasury Department.
If dutiable items are contained in your shipment, a licensed Customs House Broker will be engaged to prepare an Informal Entry ( Form 5119-A).
Each dutiable item must be specifically identified with the Harmonized Tariff of the United States.
The broker's fee for this service is approximately $3.00 per line item, although fees can vary. These charges are collected on a C.O.D. basis at time of delivery to your destination residence, unless such charges are authorized in advance to be billed to a corporate customer.
Generally customers are not present at the border when the Atlas van operator arrives with your possessions on board. We are usually able to clear your shipment for delivery to residence at this point, providing all of your documentation is in order. If there is a problem, the shipment will be placed 'IN BOND' to the closest customs office to your new home. You will be required by law to personally appear to clear your goods.
Note: While it is not compulsory that you be physically present in the United States when your shipment crosses the border, it is preferable. However, in order for your shipment to be granted entry into the USA, you must have already completed the immigration process so that your status is properly established. US Customs will verify this information when your truck arrives at the border.
*You should make a photo-copy of all pages of your passport - not just the photo page - this is a post September 11th request from U.S. Customs. They want to see what other countries you may have traveled to and from in the recent years.