I need to return 3 phones that were recently purchased from US, I will be travelling from India to US (SFO).

Is it okay to carry 3 Phones (packed-unused) with a valid UPS return package.

Will this cause any issues at India or US customs ?

  • The phones are either - a) not of the desired specifications b) have some defects.
    – DRVaya
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 14:55
  • 1
    They were purchased in US around 2 weeks back and bought for personal use here in India. If I return from India, the cost of return shipment is very costly and hence deciding to carry it while I would be travelling next month.
    – DRVaya
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:03
  • The tax paid to take it into the US is probably more than it would cost to ship it back from India
    – Uciebila
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:11
  • @DRVaya can you put that info in the question? Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can. Do not seal the package as customs will definitely want to inspect the contents. It is not actually needed to have them in the return box, it is sufficient that they were purchased within the United States customs territory (i.e. duty has already been paid on them), within the past three years, and that they have not been advanced in value. You need to tell the CBP Officer that you have non-US origin goods being re-imported to the US within three years and are eligible for duty-free entry under HTS 9801.00.26 for return to the manufacturer.

For an informal entry, I'd imagine receipts with serial number showing purchase in US should be sufficient. If you have any documents showing entry from Indian customs I would bring those too. If the total value of the phones is over $2,500, this matter will become substantially more complicated and you will need a customs broker to assist you in preparing a formal entry document and appropriate documentation.


You can carry anything you want, but you will have to declare to US Customs whatever property you carry. The property will be subject to inspection (so it shouldn't be sealed) and to assessment of duty if Customs judges that its value exceeds whatever amount might be exempt. Exemption amounts vary depending on where you're coming from, and some items or amounts of value may be exempt as merchandise being returned.

That you're going to send them via UPS after you enter the US doesn't make the phones exempt from inspection or the imposition of customs duty — you're still bringing the phones into the US.

This non-governmental page says that the first US$1000. of property will generate Customs duty of 10%, and that further duty amounts (unspecified) will be assessed against values over US$1000.

  • So are you saying that the customs exemption for returning merchandise won't apply in the OP's situation?
    – Sneftel
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:07
  • @Sneftel No, I don't know near enough about Customs to make that assertion. I'll amend the Answer to soften it. Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:30
  • If they were previously exported from the US temporarily they may be exempt from customs (the same way you dont have to pay customs for the personal effects you take on holiday when returning)
    – Vality
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 23:09
  • 1
    @Vality Yes, the previous Answer of aidanh010 addresses this. Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 23:12

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