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I will be travelling to the USA and bringing a few items with me for demonstration purposes. The value of the items will be around $500, and all items will be taken back with me. I will also bring some cheap hand tools with me, maybe worth 50$.

Do I need to declare the items and tools?

As it seems I have to, how do I go about declaring these items? I will be leaving from a Canadian airport, which has US customs. Is there a form I should complete beforehand or do I complete it when I arrive at customs?

  • 1
    I'll just add that for larger quantities of goods and/or other countries and/or other uses, you might want to look into a ATA Carnet, which is meant exactly for that: temporary import of goods. – jcaron Jul 30 '18 at 8:54
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Under $500 shouldn’t be a problem entering the USA. There’s really no concern that you’ll try to sell them, but if there was you might:

  • you may want to register your tools before your departure to the USA with your own home country’s customs and get a receipt. This allows you to bring them back home without them counting against your personal exemption - but in this case it also shows you have no intent to leave them in the USA.

  • you may want to mark the items with a sticker or marker that says “For demonstration purposes only, not for resale”

But both are rather overkill for items of such small value. It’d be more a concern if your tools cost over $2k and looked like they were packaged for resale.

  • I've seen something similar done with car parts being sent across the US/Canada border for testing. An engine block is worth a fair bit of money, while a hundred pounds of engine-block-shaped scrap iron is worth considerably less. – Mark Jul 30 '18 at 23:33
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The B1 visa has such provisions already built-in:

As a B-1 visa holder, you can temporarily bring goods or products into the United States to solicit orders but you cannot sell them or make money in the United States. If you visit the U.S for a business venture, conference, meeting, trade show, exhibition, sales, etc. you will receive no salary, or income from a U.S. based company, source or entity.

Source: CBP Website

Further, there is a page on the CBP website which deals specifically with trade imports.

They both state the same - there is dedicated allowances for the temporary import of goods specifically for exhibition, display or sample purposes.

On the CBP Form 6059B (PDF) (the blue declaration form), it specifically states for Visitors (non-residents):

Declare the value of all articles that will remain in the US

As you will be taking the samples back, you do not need to declare their value; however, I would tick "I have commercial goods" (#14) just to be safe.

Keep in mind its better to be safe as missing something due to confusion can be interpreted as deception by omission.

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"If you are a visitor (non-U.S. Resident), print the total value of all goods (including commercial merchandise) you or any family members traveling with you are bringing into the United States and will remain in the United States."

Sample Customs Declaration Form

You say "all items will be taken back with me" so those items are not items that "will remain in the United States".

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The items, worth only $500, are probably no big deal, unless you have a whole bunch of identical items that look like they could be sold. That's a customs issue.

However the tools could be an issue. Assuming you don't have a work permit, how do you intend to explain the need for tools? I suggest leaving them at home.

  • I figured it was in case one of his doohikeys broke. – Azor Ahai Jul 30 '18 at 18:31

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