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Types of Exemptions

$200 Exemption

If you cannot claim other exemptions because:

  • You have been out of the country more than once in a 30-day period or because
  • You have not been out of the country for at least 48 hours.

You may still bring back $200 worth of items free of duty and tax. As discussed earlier, these items must be for your personal or household use.

If you bring back more than $200 worth of dutiable items, or if any item is subject to duty or tax, the entire amount will be dutiable. For instance, you were out of the country for 36 hours and came back with a $300 piece of pottery. You could not deduct $200 from its value and pay duty on $100. The pottery would be dutiable for the full value of $300.

You may include with the $200 exemption your choice of the following: 50 cigarettes and 10 cigars and 150 milliliters (5 fl. oz.) of alcoholic beverages or 150 milliliters (5 fl. oz.) of perfume containing alcohol.

Note that unlike other exemptions, family members may not combine their individual $200 exemptions. Thus, if Mr. and Mrs. Smith spend a night in Canada, each may bring back up to $200 worth of goods, but they would not be allowed a collective family exemption of $400.

Also, duty on items you mail home to yourself will be waived if the value is $200 or less. See the Sending Items Back to the United States and Gifts pages.

$800 Exemption

If you are arriving from anywhere other than a U.S. insular possession (U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam) you may bring back $800 worth of items duty free, as long as you bring them with you. This is called accompanied baggage.

For Caribbean Basin or Andean countries, your exemption is also $800. These countries include:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago

You may include two liters of alcoholic beverages with this $800 exemption, as long as one of the liters was produced in one of the countries listed above. Please see the Sending Purchases from Insular Possessions and Caribbean Basin Countries- Duty-Free Shops page for more information.

Depending on what items you're bringing back from your trip, you could come home with more than $800 worth of gifts or purchases and still not be charged duty. For instance, say you received a $700 bracelet as a gift, and you bought a $40 hat and a $60 color print. Because these items total $800, you would not be charged duty, since you have not exceeded your duty-free exemption. If you had also bought a $500 painting on that trip, you could bring all $1,300 worth of merchandise home without having to pay duty, because fine art is duty-free.

$1,600 Exemption

If you return directly or indirectly from a U.S. insular possession (U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam), you are allowed a $1,600 duty-free exemption.

If you travel to a U.S. insular possession and to one or more of the Caribbean Basin or Andean countries listed above, let's say on a Caribbean cruise, you may bring back $1,600 worth of items without paying duty, but only $800 worth of these items may come from the Caribbean Basin or Andean country or countries. Any amount beyond $800 will be dutiable unless you acquired it in one of the insular possessions. For example, if you were to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Jamaica, you would be allowed to bring back $1,600 worth of merchandise duty free, as long as only $800 worth was acquired in Jamaica.

Also, you may include 1,000 cigarettes as part of the $1,600 exemption, but at least 800 of them must have been acquired in an insular possession. Only 200 cigarettes may have been acquired elsewhere. For example, if you were touring the South Pacific and you stopped in Tahiti, American Samoa, and other ports of call, you could bring back five cartons of cigarettes, but four of them would have to have been bought in American Samoa.

Similarly, you may include five liters of alcoholic beverages in your duty-free exemption, but one of them must be a product of an insular possession. Four may be products of other countries.