Pre-Trip Registration of Valuable Items
As a general rule, you should not travel with expensive items such as jewelry as it can cause problems when you reach the border. However, if you are going to bring valuable items on your trip you should think about pre-registering them with the border services of the U.S. or Canada before you leave. When you return to your home country, it is your responsibility to establish that you did not acquire any questionable items abroad. This can sometimes be difficult, and you will owe duties on that expensive item if Customs officials believe you purchased it while traveling.
After you finish with this page, you should also make sure to read our pages on How to Handle Your Customs Inspection and Clearing Customs.
You can register anything so long as it has serial numbers or other unique, permanent markings. To do this, take the items to the nearest CBP office and request a Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad (CBP Form 4457). This will prove that you owned the items before leaving the United States and all items listed on it will be allowed duty-free entry.
CBP officers must see the item you are registering in order to certify the certificate of registration. You should retain the certificate as you can use it for future trips as well.
For Canadian residents, you need to take your valuables to a border services officer and state that you acquired them in Canada or lawfully imported them. The officer will list your valuables and their serial numbers on a wallet-sized card called a Form Y38, Identification of Articles for Temporary Exportation.
You may not be able to pre-register jewelry if it does not have unique, permanent markings. Canada can apply a sticker to the pieces but that may not suffice if you need to remove it. You should therefore take at least some of the following steps to ensure you can prove prior ownership before you get to the border:
- Obtain an appraisal report and a signed and dated photograph of each piece of jewelry
- Obtain written certification that the items or jewellery in the photographs are the ones described in the appraisal report.
- Bring any other documents you may have that fully describe the item—such as sales receipts, insurance policies as forms of proof.