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Philly CBP Assesses $6K Duty Penalty, Revokes Trusted Traveler’s Privileges

Release Date: 
January 22, 2014

PhiladelphiaA member of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry trusted traveler program saw her privileges revoked Friday after failing to truthfully declare the full $6,083 amount of merchandise she purchased overseas to CBP officers at Philadelphia International Airport.

CBP officers also assessed a 100 percent penalty on those purchases.

Travelers are allowed personal duty exemptions on the total value of merchandise they purchase overseas. In most cases, the personal exemption is $800. Travelers may bring back more than their exemption, but any merchandise value exceeding the personal exemption is subject to duties.

After the traveler arrived from Germany, she processed her admission on a Global Entry self-help kiosk. She didn’t declare any merchandise that exceeded the $800 standard duty exemption. She declared to a CBP officers that she purchased $500 in merchandise, including a handbag and other miscellaneous items. During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered receipts for merchandise totaling $6,083 that she purchased abroad.

CBP officers released the traveler and her merchandise after she paid the $6,083 duty penalty.

“This is a significant duty penalty, but it illustrates the severe consequences travelers face for being less than truthful to Customs and Border Protection officers during their international arrivals inspection,” said Tarance Drafts, Acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “Because of her status as a trusted traveler, and the excessive disparity of value between the amount of purchases she declared and the actual value of her purchases, CBP officers assessed a penalty for the full value of the purchased merchandise.”

The term “duty-free” may confuse some travelers. Articles sold in a duty-free shop overseas are free of duty and taxes only for the country in which that merchandise is purchased.

CBP is charged with collecting duties at our nation’s ports of entry as part of travelers’ arrivals processing. There are severe consequences for failing to truthfully declare merchandise purchased overseas including a multiplied penalty of the merchandise duty, to seizure of merchandise.

CBP collects over $30 billion annually, which is the second largest revenue generator for the U.S. government.

CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international passengers and cargo, and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, unreported currency, counterfeit merchandise, and prohibited agriculture and other products.

Travelers are encouraged to visit CBP’s Travel website to learn rules governing travel to and from the U.S., prohibited and admissible items and what they must declare to CBP upon their arrival.

Global Entry is U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s initiative to expedite international arrivals processing for pre-approved, trusted travelers. For more information on Global Entry or to apply online, please visit

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021