I was travelling to San Francisco, USA from Bangalore, India at Lufthansa Airlines. Can I carry 4kgs of silver which worth 2.5k dollars or 1.7Lakhs rupees. I was actually giving the silver items like plates to my sister who is living in the USA, so I am going to say that at the immigration portal. I have a few questions.

  1. Is it OK to say "My sister has brought the silver items last time from the USA to India for our purpose now I was visiting her so I am giving back to her" at immigration?
  2. At the Immigration portal do I need to add the commodity value I bring to the USA?
  3. What happens if I mark in immigration paper has no for any commodity value?
  4. How much value commodities do I have permission to bring like silver?
  5. What is the worst thing that could happen at Immigration?
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    It's your proposal in part 1 the truth? Mar 17, 2019 at 19:34
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    If you use 1. (above), at the very least they will want to see documentary evidence that the goods were purchased in the USA and will probably detain them until this is produced. Point 2 (above) On the US Customs declaration form there is a section for 'Visitors' which asks for "the total value of all articles that will remain in the USA". In your question heading you say $25000 but in the text you say $2.5k - don't make a mistake like that on your declaration. I'm not clear if you are giving the goods to your sister as a gift, or returning her goods that she lent to you. Could you clarify?
    – canonacer
    Mar 17, 2019 at 19:47
  • @canonacer Thanks for reminding for mistake of 25k dollar it's actually 2.5k dollars. I am giving her goods back. And I am not sure whether they have purchased in the USA or not. Mar 17, 2019 at 19:56
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    Note that Immigration couldn't care less about your silver, they are concerned with admitting you. You should be concerned about the silver when passing Customs.
    – Aganju
    Mar 17, 2019 at 22:37
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    @Aganju but the immigration officer screens arriving travelers with respect to their customs declarations and then makes a note on that form for the benefit of the customs officer (a process that predates the merging of the immigration and customs functions into one agency). So the immigration inspector is indeed almost guaranteed to ask about a declaration showing $2500 worth of goods. Someone making such a declaration is probably also almost guaranteed to have an additional conversation with a customs officer, which most travelers do not.
    – phoog
    Mar 18, 2019 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


It is definitely not forbidden to import the items you describe. However it is your responsibility to declare items you are bringing into the country, if they are over the allowable values, and to pay duties on them. $2500 worth of silver is definitely over the allowable values, and there will be duty to pay. Failing to declare items you are importing is an offence. You will be asked the value of items you are bringing with you, either on the paper form or on the computer terminal.

It makes no difference whether the items are yours and you are giving them to your sister, or if she bought them abroad and you are bringing them to the US for her. Duty is payable in either case, and you are responsible for paying it.

If your sister did not buy the plates in the US then absolutely do not lie to customs. Doing so is a worse offence than failing to declare, and customs will want evidence of the purchase before they allow you to bring them in. Stating that you are bringing in nothing of value is also a lie and attracts similar penalties.

There are no special categories for things like silver. The amount you can bring is the total limits of gifts. Currently that is $100.

Since you ask, the worst thing that can happen is that you are arrested for smuggling and sent to jail. That is possible but unlikely, and a much more likely scenario is that the items are confiscated and you are made to pay a fine.


In theory, duty is due on goods over a relatively low limit. In my experience, the US customs seem to be uninterested in collecting duty on family property being sent to or brought in by a resident, so although you should be prepared to pay duty you may not have to pay anything, depending on circumstances such as how long your family has owned the plates.

For example, my late aunt left me her jewelry, all of which she had owned for decades. The total value was over $7,000. I am a British citizen and US resident, and brought the jewelry with me on returning from a trip to England. I filled in the customs form accurately, and was sent to secondary customs inspection. After questioning me for a few minutes, especially on whether I had bought anything new on my vacation, they decided not to collect any duty. I did have documentation with me - copies of my aunt's will, and of the valuer's report on her estate - but they did not ask to see the paperwork.

I suspect that experienced customs agents can distinguish someone who is telling the truth and has documentation to back it up from someone who is lying to them.

I strongly recommend telling the exact truth, and ideally having documentation to support it. Only claim you are returning items purchased in the US if that is what happened, and try to get sales receipts etc. to prove it.

The worst that can happen is you are caught committing a felony, lying in a customs declaration. That could happen if you declare, on a form or to a machine, that you have nothing of value and a search reveals a stack of silver plates.

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