Technically you are required to handle this as either "Temporary Import
under Bond" or use an ATA Carnet. Both are not cheap
or easy, and usually not worth the effort for small items.
If the value can reasonably be claimed as less than $2500 and you can send it by post (not Fedex/UPS/DHL, etc.) then the USPS will receive the package, transfer it to CBP who will evaluate any charges, and then send the package back to USPS for delivery
. All of that is free of charge, unless they decide you owe duty - in which case CBP charges $5 + duty + USPS fee (not sure how much that is). If you send the package by courier (FedEx, etc.) then you are at their mercy with regard to clearance procedures.
For the commercial
invoice you can use the form you saw before. At the the top clearly mark it "No Sale" (so the header would say "Commercial Invoice - No Sale". In the invoice body put the original value of the equipment
(hopefully less than $2500). Then add some data on serial
# and "Returned for (warranty) repair - to be reexported (returned to sender) on completion of repairs". Make that part big and bold. For the total value at the bottom of the invoice make that $0.00 (even though you have a line item that is the original value). This indicates that the unit is being returned for repair. Here's a sample invoice
(this one is for the shipment back out with the repair cost). If the value is under $2500 then formal entry is not required and this should
get it through CBP. This procedure has worked for me on a number of occasions.
Not familiar with the French/Martinique side. By international rule
when the unit is returned the shipper should do exactly the same, but their commercial invoice should include a second line item for the value of the repair, along with a notation about whether or not the repair was warranty work
. Their final value should still be zero. If possible (navigating yet another bureaucracy) you should register the unit with French Customs before it leaves the island, in theory if you do that you should be able to get it back without cost. If for some reason you can't then duty should be charged only on the value of the repair as listed on the invoice.
Sometimes it can be easier to either ship it to family/friend in the US as a personal package (with a value declared that is less than the gift limit) or have the unit carried as baggage by someone on a plane then shipped from inside the US.
Another alternative, that I have never tried (I've done the commercial invoice route
many times as part of my work) is to complete CBP form 3299
and send the unit back for "Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles". Most of us can legally claim that our boat
is our household, and if the item is boat equipment
can honestly check the box for:
All instruments, implements, or tools of trade, occupation or employment, and all professional books for which free entry is sought were taken abroad by me or for my account or I am an emigrant who owned and used them abroad. (9804.00.10,9804.00.15, HTSUSA)
Welcome to the world of international shipping
, isn't it fun?