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Customs ease for travellers to US

 The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says it has issued a new customs declaration form “in print and online” that expands the definition of family members for arriving Caribbean and other travellers.

CBP said the definition expands to “members of a family residing in the same household who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption”.

The agency said it has accepted this family definition since the final rule became effective on January 17.

It said the new form—CBP Form 6059B—provides the expanded definition in the first paragraph.

CBP said the recent regulation change allows more returning US citizens, residents and international visitors to file a joint customs declaration for items acquired abroad.

“This produces less paperwork for people travelling together as a family and streamlines passenger processing, thereby increasing efficiency for CBP, airline personnel and the travelling public,” the statement said.

“Travellers may complete the declaration form online, print it and bring it on their trip to present to CBP when they arrive in the US or at a CBP preclearance site,” it said.

CBP said air and cruise lines also will hand out the declaration forms for travellers to complete before disembarking in the US.

In addition to clarifying the definition of family members, the final rule also clarified the term domestic relationship, which includes foster-children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and individuals with an “in loco parentis or guardianship relationship”.

The definition also includes two adults who are in a “committed relationship including, but not limited to, long-term companions and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships where the partners are financially interdependent, and are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else”.

CBP said “domestic relationship” does not extend to roommates or other cohabitants not otherwise meeting the above definition.

“Members of a family residing in one household” will continue to encompass relationships of blood, adoption and marriage, CBP said.

Under the new definition of domestic relationship, CBP said one combined family declaration can now be presented to the officer upon arrival. 

As with any joint declaration, verbal or written, it said the person making and/or signing the declaration will be held accountable for its validity.

For returning US residents, to be considered members of a family and to group exemptions from customs duty and internal revenue tax, CBP said the travellers must have lived together in one household at their last permanent residence and intend to live together in one household .

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