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I am a US citizen and I am flying to the UK for vacation purposes. I don't plan on making any big purchases, definitely less than $800, but I want to be prepared for how many details I need to keep track of when coming home. If I buy a couple of CD's or books that are less than $10 each, can I just group "CDs" or "Books" on the customs form and put a value of $20? Same idea for souvenirs or clothing purchased. Or is this so little that I shouldn't even be worried?

If I don't get a form (as happened to me coming home from Mexico) and I'm just asked, "Do you have anything to declare?" would I answer yes if it's literally just two books worth $20??

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If you're importing anything then you have to declare it to customs. Whether there's any duty to pay or not is a separate question (that's where the $800 limit comes from). So yes, if you bought books or CDs in the UK and you're bringing them back with you to the US - you have something to declare.

It doesn't have to be very detailed though. On the form CBP 6059B (or its electronic version) there's a total value on line 15 and itemized list on the back. The instructions on the form for US residents say "declare all articles that you have acquired abroad", but I believe aggregating is OK. For example, if you bought 5 books - just list "books" and total value, I don't think you have to list each book individually.

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  • You no longer get a form to fill out when arriving into US airports.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 20, 2023 at 15:01
  • @JonathanReez What happens without a form? Should I keep all my receipts together and have a total ready when they ask if I have anything to declare? Jan 20, 2023 at 16:45
  • @AmandaWells I fill this form electronically at the immigration kiosk, you still need to answer the exact same questions - just not on paper.
    – littleadv
    Jan 20, 2023 at 17:27
  • I had to fill out a paper customs form at San Jose airport on Jan 4th 2023, so even the paper forms still exist. Jan 21, 2023 at 19:04

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