How to Fill Out the Customs Declaration when Entering the U.S.
As a general rule, you must present either a valid passport or a NEXUS card when you enter the U.S by air, land or sea.
You may not use your NEXUS card if your flight has not been pre-cleared by US CBP in Canada. Under these circumstances, as a holder of a NEXUS card, you won’t be allowed to use the Global Entry kiosks and you must use regular lanes. If you have been pre-cleared in Canada, then you can use your NEXUS card at the Global Entry kiosks in U.S. airports and marine locations.
NEXUS members who are U.S. citizens do have the right to an oral declaration when they enter their home country but this privilege does not extend to Canadian citizens.
As a Canadian citizen, you must complete the Customs Declaration Form (U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 6059B). You must fill out printed letters. Handwriting is not accepted. You can do so before or during your travel. Print the form and carry it with you as your official customs declaration document.
Entering the U.S. as a NEXUS member
To use the privileges of your NEXUS card for declaring goods, you must provide biometric data as you land in the U.S. Follow these steps to complete the biometric verification procedure:
- Find a self-serve kiosk. These are typically located in the U.S. preclearance area.
- Stand in front of the camera to have your biometrics taken. You will have your irises photographed.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the entry process.
- Wait for a printed kiosk receipt. Take it to the U.S. CBP officer.
- Proceed to the transborder lounge. Unless you need to undergo further inspection, you will be given entry to the U.S.
What Biometrics Technology Does the U.S. CBP Use?
U.S. CBP authorities use iris recognition technology. Iris recognition is a specific part of biometrics which includes reading the 266 unique characteristics of the ring around the pupil of the human eye. Each person’s irises are unique.
When you have your irises photograph taken at the self-serve kiosks, the record is stored and used for comparison whenever your identity needs to be verified. If you are using the NEXUS kiosk, the record will be compared to those previously stored in the database.
Iris photography is done by using the visible safe low-range infrared light from a monochrome camera. There aren’t known health and safety issues associated with the iris recognition technology.
Rules You Need to Adhere to When Providing Biometrics
At enrolment, you must remove your eyeglasses, as well as contacts, to provide the clearest possible record which needs to be stored for future use.
At passage, you don’t need to remove your prescription eyewear (glasses and clear contacts), but you must remove sunglasses and patterned contacts.
You must indicate if you have a disability that could affect the iris photography taken. This information will be stored on your profile. You will need to use the Special Services counter and answer standard customs procedure questions although you are a NEXUS holder. You will get a “non-iris capture” sticker that will help you expedite the process at the Special Services counter.
Joint Customs Declaration
Joint customs declaration can be filled out by members residing in the same household, including long-term same-sex couples and domestic partnerships. The general rule is that everyone traveling as a single family or domestic partnership that meets the personal exemptions criteria can submit a joint declaration. Each signee is personally responsible for the declared goods.
Where and What Goods to Declare
You can use the self-serve kiosks if you are importing goods for your personal use. If the self-serve kiosks are closed or dysfunctional, you can use the crew counter or just follow the standard procedure and declare your goods to a U.S. CBP officer.
If you are a first-time applicant for the TN or L1 Visas you are eligible for optimized processing at the designated ports of entry, even if you hold a NEXUS Card.
As a NEXUS member, you must not have any commercial goods with you or in your baggage. Personal computers and similar electronic devices for personal use are not considered commercial goods. If you intend to sell or re-sell goods, you must declare them.
You are not eligible to use your NEXUS card in any mode of transportation if you have currency or other financial instruments in an amount of U.S. $10,000 or more.
Since they carry health and safety risks, you must declare certain agricultural goods when you enter the U.S. Prohibited items include meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, animals, as well as plant and animal products.
Many items grown in Canada can freely enter the U.S., but some can’t. For instance, you must have a permit for seed potatoes while fresh tomatoes and bell peppers are prohibited.
More information about allowed and prohibited items can be found by visiting the website of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. or by calling (301) 851-2046 or (877) 770-5990.
As a general rule, controlled substances, obscene articles, and toxic substances are prohibited entry.
Step-by-Step Procedure for Filling Out the Customs Declaration Form
- Print your first name, your last name, and the first letter of your middle name.
- Print your date of birth in the appropriate format.
- Print the number of your family members traveling together, excluding yourself.
- Print your U.S. address, including the hotel address if you are staying in one.
- Print the city and the state address.
- Print the name of the country that issued your passport and the passport number.
- Print the name of the country where you currently live.
- Print the name of the countries you visited prior to coming to the U.S.
- Print the airline and flight number or the vessel’s name.
- Indicate if you are traveling for business.
- Indicate importing agricultural products and livestock exposure in the relevant boxes.
- Indicate currency or monetary instruments in amount higher than US$10,000.
(Fill out Customs Form 4790 if you possess more than the allowed amount.)
- Indicate importing commercial goods.
- Both U.S. residents and visitors must fill out the total value of all goods including commercial goods. U.S. residents are generally entitled to a duty-free exemption of $800. Visitors (non-U.S. Residents) are generally entitled to an exemption of $100. Use the black space on the back of the form if you need.
- Read the notice on the back of the form, and sign and print the form.
- Keep the form with you to hand it over to the CBP officer.
The officer will determine the duty by assessing the current rate on the first $1,000 above the exemption.
A filled out sample declaration form can be found on the U.S. CBP’s website.