Travel Tips – Equipment & Customs

One of the most frustrating things that someone traveling to and from other countries can deal with is customs problems. It can specifically become very expensive and frustrating for photographers with all their gear.

The travel tip that often gets the most attention in our seminars and presentations is the use of Customs Form 4457. It is a very simple and easy way to protect you and your gear as you travel the world. Presenting this form will show official proof that you are not transporting new equipment and therefore do not need to pay any customs tax traveling to and from other countries.

The process is easy. Form 4457 can be found online (see link below) or in any customs office in your home and US International Airport. These offices are usually outside of security. Simply fill in the form with your information and that of your gear, not to forget the serial numbers on each piece of equipment. You will then need to have a US Customs officer/agent complete the form.

Find the form here:

Official Instructions/Regulations

1. Complete the Original only.
2. Prior to Departure, present the described articles and the completed form to a CBP Officer for comparison and signing of the form.
3. The signed form is to be returned to the applicant and must be shown to CBP each time the registered article(s) are returned.
4. This certificate is not transferable.
5. Note: Foreign repairs or alterations to articles (whether or not the articles are registered with CBP) are dutiable. Such repairs or alterations must be declared to Customs when the articles reenter the United States, whether or not they were done free of charge.

Once you complete this process you can reuse these forms as many times as you would like. It is also possible to fill out forms with gear that are specific for different areas of travel. For example you can have a form for your Africa trips with your large lenses, a form for Tuscany with your tilt shift lenses, etc. We suggest protecting these forms as you travel by placing them in a plastic zipper baggy or something of that nature, but do not laminate or alter the form in any way. This will void the authenticity of the form.

Happy travels.


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