I will be traveling to the USA at the end of the year with a Tourist Visa, but I should also be applying for a fiance visa soon and I would like to start taking some books and comic books with me. I plan to leave them at my fiancée's house until I can actually move when (and if) the fiance visa is approved and we get married.

The sample U.S. Customs Declaration Form 6059B asks the items I am taking that will remain in the US and the respective prices of said items to apply some flat rate of duty on that. Considering that I won't be getting any money out of those books and aren't gifts either, how should I go about declaring that?

I would be taking a lot of books in my dispatched baggages and hand luggage, but I have no intent of selling them, only keeping them at my fiancée's house until we move for good, is it necessary to declare customs?

  • 1
    Many countries have special arrangements for migrants importing personal effects. You should look into the rules as they apply to you before importing things piecemeal. That, however, is a question for Expatriates – user90371 Aug 28 '19 at 2:55
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    Every time you apply for a (non-immigrant) visa to the US, the immigration officer starts by assuming that you're planning to stay permanently in the US (the so-called "presumption of immigrant intent" — search this phrase on this site for examples) and looks for positive evidence that you're planning to return home at the end of your trip. Doing anything that shows "immigrant intent" while visiting on a tourist visa may jeopardize your chances of obtaining future visas. I suspect this plan is a bad idea. – Michael Seifert Aug 28 '19 at 3:00
  • @MichaelSeifert immigration officers at the border also begin the interview with a nonimmigrant from the presumption of immigrant intent. Thus could be an awkward moment to be discussing this plan with the books. (There are some classes of nonimmigrant visa where that presumption does not apply, but tourist classes are of course not among them.) – phoog Aug 28 '19 at 3:08
  • This might be a daft suggestion, but rather than carrying them with you could you ship them separately to your fiancée and pay any import tax as part of the shipping cost? – Traveller Aug 28 '19 at 12:12
  • I would usually use my ticket back to my country as proof that I'm returning home. In this particular case, I would also start an internship when I go back to my country, so maybe that could be additional proof that I don't have the intent of staying there. But would it be problematic to have a pending fiance visa application then? I would be traveling with my Tourist visa and being able to proof I intend to return home. – Travelling Booksman Problem Aug 29 '19 at 1:45

is it necessary to declare customs?

Yes. You must declare everything that you will be leaving behind in the US.

Considering that I won't be getting any money out of those books and aren't gifts either, how should I go about declaring that?

Just list the items and their value. You don't have to declare whether they are gifts or why they will be staying in the US; you just have to declare that they will be staying in the US.

You do not need to calculate duty. The CBP officer will decide whether to calculate duty and will do it if so decided. If the value is under $100, there will be no duty because of the personal exemption, and even if the value is a little over, the officer may decide not to bother. (I also have a vague recollection of looking up the rate on books and finding that they are free of duty in most cases, which means, if it is true, that the officer certainly will not charge any duty.)

If I were you I would look now at the rules you'll need to be aware of for importing your household effects as an arriving immigrant. They probably won't apply to this importing of some books, but you might find something relevant.

As noted in the comments, this plan does seem risky. While there's nothing that absolutely forbids it, you might encounter a CBP officer who has difficulty reconciling your plan to immigrate in the future with the requirement that visitors lack intent to immigrate. In fact, you need only lack the intent to immigrate on that trip, but an unsympathetic or unimaginative officer could make your life rather difficult.

  • Thanks for the answer! Considering your last paragraph, would that be related to me bringing a huge quantity of books or traveling to the USA with a Tourist while having a pending application for the fiance visa? – Travelling Booksman Problem Aug 29 '19 at 1:39
  • @TravellingBooksmanProblem yes. Some immigration officers are more difficult than others, and the principle that you are allowed to have immigrant intent for a future visit is not really laid out anywhere as far as I know. – phoog Aug 29 '19 at 3:46

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