U.S. Customs Registration

Holland America sent us a “Planning & Advice” booklet for our upcoming Alaska trip, one section of which said to register valuables with U.S. Customs to avoid any hassles when re-entering the country. We’re stopping in Vancouver for a couple of days, so we don’t bypass Customs through the Holland America shuttle. On the other hand, it’s somewhat unlikely that we would be nailed for the old laptop and less-than-new-and-not-that-costly camera equipment: the page has a certain CYA feel to it, on the part of Holland America. We got the electronics registered, anyway.

Registration is done at the cargo inspection office in Middleburg Heights. Earlier, I had thought it’d be done at the airport, according to someone I spoke to on the phone at some other Service Port office, but the person at the airport corrected me and sent me to the right place (which is down the road from the airport).

The required for is Customs Form 4457. Note that the online forms on that page (both PDF and Wizard) are for Form 4455, which is for commericial shippers. As far as I can tell, 4457 isn’t on the website; I filled mine in by hand once I got there. The officer there was friendly and helpful, and the whole thing took 10 minutes. It’s basically a piece of paper that you would present at Customs when returning to the country. There’s a list of items and their serial numbers, with the remaining regions of white space X’ed out and stamped by the Customs officer. It’s apparently good as long as its still legible. The officer also mentioned that invoices for the items would be just as good as this Form.

Thinking about this whole thing from a security standpoint, the resources Customs devotes to this is small because the potential duties collected on such personal goods is kind of small. One can always envision a centralized system where your registry of personal items is stored, etc., but that’s a large enforcement expenditure for something relatively penny ante. For this purpose, the low-tech written form and stamp is sufficient.

Update: Here’s the URL to the right form as a PDF: Form 4557

One Response to “U.S. Customs Registration”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been trying to find out how to register items and up until now I could only find sites telling me that I needed to. This was very informative and I appreciate the information.