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Vintage Brochure - American Customs Regulations, 1923

The United States customs laws require examination of the effects of passenger s arriving in America from foreign countries, except diplomatic officials and others specIally provided for by the Treasury Department, which, in such cases, permIts a "free entry" of the effects of such official passengers. Before an examinatIon of baggage can be made the passenger must have filled out and signed a blank furnIshed by the Treasury Department, and which will be presented by the ship's purser at the beginning of the westward voyage on transatlantic liners, in which all artIcles obtained abroad must be listed.

When a passenger has prepared and signed the declaration he or she must detach and retain the coupon at the bottom of the form, returning the latter to the ship's purser. The coupon must be presented by the passenger, upon arrival, to the customs officer on the pier whose duty it Is to receive such coupons. ThIs delIvery of the coupon must be made only after all the baggage belongIng to the passenger is deposited In one group on the pier and when It is ready for examination.

The senior member of the family, if a passenger, may make the declaration for the entire family.

DeclaratIons spoiled In the preparation should not be destroyed, but should be returned in their entirety to the purser, who will give the passenger a fresh form to fill out.

Residents of the United States must declare all wearing apparel, jewelry, and other articles, whether used or unused, on theIr persons, in their clothIng, or in their baggage, which have been obtaIned abroad by purchase or otherwise, with the foreign cost or value of the same. They must also declare all wearing apparel, jewelry or other articles taken out of the United States which have been remodeled or improved while abroad so as to Increase their value, the statement to include the cost of such improvement.

By stating the value of all declared articles, in UnIted States money, and by packing the same so that these may be easily produced for examinatIon (and in one trunk, If practicable), passengers will expedite the appraisement and passing of the same upon the pIer. Whenever practicable, passengers should present the origInal receipted bills for foreign purchases.

Residents of the United States are allowed $100 worth of articles in the nature of personal effects at their present foreIgn value, free of duty, provided they are not intended for other persons, or for sale, or to be used in busIness, and are properly declared.

Use does not exempt from duty wearing apparel or other articles obtained abroad, but such articles will be appraIsed at their market value abroad at the time of exportation to the United States.

Residents of the UnIted States may also bring with them free of duty all wearing apparel and other personal effects taken by them out of the UnIted States if such have not been remodeled or improved abroad so as to increase their value.

Residents of the United States must not deduct the $100 exemption from the value of their wearing apparel or other articles obtained abroad by purchase or otherwIse. Such deduction will be made by customs officers on the pier.

Foreign residents and all persons coming to this country to live will be allowed to bring in their household effects free of duty if the same have been actually used by them abroad for at least one year, and are not intended for sale or for any other person. Such effects should be declared. Articles Intended for other persons, for use in business, theatrical apparel, propertIes and sceneries, must also be declared, whether the passenger is a resident or non-resident of the United States.

All cigars and cigarettes must be declared, and they are not included in the $100 exemption. But every passenger, over the age of eighteen, Is entitled to bring in, free of duty and internal revenue tax, fifty (50) cigars or three hundred (300) cigarettes for his or her bona fide individual personal consumption.

Government officers are forbidden by law to accept anything but currency In payment of duties, but, If requested, will retain baggage on the piers for twenty-four hours to enable the owner to secure the currency.

Passengers are advised that to offer or give gratuIties or bribes to customs officers Is a violatIon of law, and customs officers who accept gratuities or bribes will be dismissed from the servIce, and all parties guilty of such offense are liable to criminal prosecution.

Baggage Intended for delIvery at ports of the UnIted States other than the port of arrIval, or baggage in transit through the United States to a foreIgn country, may be forwarded thereto without assessment of duty at the port of arrival, by the varIous railroads or express companies. Application for such forwarding should be made at once to the customs offIcer in charge on the pIer before the baggage Is examined, and the value thereof should be stated In the passenger's declaration.

Passengers, whether residents of the UnIted States or not, cannot bring into the country any sealskin garments made from the skins of seals taken in the open water of the North Pacific Ocean, these being prohibited importations under the Act of August 24, 1912.

Sealskin garments worn by or contaIned in the baggage of persons arriving in the UnIted States will not, however, be presumed to have been taken in prohibIted waters and will be admitted if the Collector is satisfied that the same were taken from the UnIted States, or are being brought in for temporary use, or were purchased abroad from reputable merchants whose names and addresses shall be given and shown in the baggage declaration in order that the origin of the skins may be traced if advisable.

American residents returning from abroad will not be inconvenienced by omitting to register their belongings, as all wearIng apparel, personal and household effects taken by them out of the UnIted States will be admitted free of duty on return In the absence of fraud or other suspIcIous cIrcumstances.

The traveler should be patIent with and courteous to the customs officers on the pier. They have difficult duties and strive to perform these duties as pleasantly and with as little discomfort to the passengers as possible.

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