I am a US citizen who has lived abroad for the past decade. My wife (a non-US citizen), has been offered employment in the US, and is currently awaiting her H1-B visa. We plan to fly to the US as soon as possible, which depends on the following:

  1. My wife obtaining her visa (we've been told to expect a processing time of up to 4 months)
  2. The lifting of the travel ban on European travellers (although this might not apply to us, as we're married).

As it stands, we are unsure of exactly when we will be able to travel to the US. We would prefer to travel together, since we might otherwise end up separated for an indeterminate period of time.

In the meantime, the lease for our UK apartment is coming to an end, so we have decided to ship our belongings to the US ahead of us. We have booked a moving company, and our belongings will be shipped to my parents residence for storage until we are able to collect them. The moving company has advised us to list myself as the importer, given that I am not subject to the travel ban.

As part of this shipping process, the moving company has asked us to fill out US Customs Form 3299, which specifically asks for the


As we do not yet know when we will be arriving, we are unable to provide this information. This brings me to my first question:

Is this information required, or can it be safely omitted?

To complicate matters, the moving company's broker initially made a fuss explaining that we had to be physically present in the US by the time our property arrived at customs. In the meantime, he has back-pedaled saying it's acceptable if we arrive within "three or four months following the arrival of our property at US Customs". This sounds hand-wavy to say the least, hence my second question:

How long after my property arrives in the US can I arrive in the US?

Many thanks in advance for your help!

  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on expatriates.stackexchange.com May 28, 2020 at 20:28
  • 4
    @BlueDogRanch surely this is a legitimate customs law question... May 28, 2020 at 20:33
  • There is no ban on European travelers. There is a ban on foreign travelers who have been in certain countries including much of Europe in the 14 days before arrival. Under this ban, a Senegalese citizen cannot fly from London to the US, and a British citizen can fly from Dakar to the US. There are several exceptions, however, including spouses of US citizens, so the ban does not apply to your wife. I'm not sure why you said "may" when you alluded to this in the question.
    – phoog
    May 29, 2020 at 6:00
  • Hi @blz, welcome to the site! I am voting to close because you are asking for legal advice. If you reword to more generalize the question, respond and I will retract.
    – Andrew
    Jun 3, 2020 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


I can't claim detailed expertise but looking at the US code citations "19 CFR 148.6, 148.52, 148.53, 148.77" under the title on your linked form, you may find this one has useful information:

19 CFR § 148.52 - Exemption for household effects used abroad. ... (c) Declaration. When household effects are claimed to be free of duty a declaration of the owner on Customs Form 3299, or its electronic equivalent, shall be required to support the claim for free entry. If it is impracticable to produce the declaration at the time of entry, the importer may give a bond on Customs Form 301, containing the bond conditions set forth in § 113.62 of this chapter, for the production of the owner's declaration within 6 months.

So it sounds like your scenario is possible, but your freight agent has to post a bond (i.e. put money at risk on your compliance) with a different form, and you have 6 months under the statute to complete the form.

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