US Customs Form 4457
Do you need a US Customs and Border Control Form 4457?
This small form is proof that your gear listed on the form was purchased and owned in the United States prior to your trip.
The significance of this document is to keep U.S. Customs and Border Protection from thinking you may have bought the items abroad and charging you U.S. Duty Tax upon reentry into the United States. It doesn’t happen very often and it’s never happened to me, but I have heard stories of photographers having to pay taxes on their gear on re-entry into the United States. I keep this form with me whenever I travel and get a new one when I buy new lenses or a camera body.
To get one, you can use this link Customs Form 4457 to download the form. Take it to your nearest Homeland Security office. They are usually located near the airport. They will verify your serial numbers and then stamp your form. It’s as easy as that. I hope I never need mine, but I have had some rough experiences with airport security overseas. Tel Aviv security inspected every lens and my camera body, looking through each lens barrel and kept me waiting for 1 hour before I could board my plane. They asked tons of questions about what I had photographed, where I had been, and who hired me to go there.
It might just be worth the peace of mind when returning to the US.
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