Customs duties, which apply to individual travelers, are 3 percent of the value of the imported goods up to $1,000 as of 2015, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Exemptions and limits apply to some items, such as alcohol and cigarettes. The U.S. International Trade Commission provides an extensive list of duty rates for importers in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule on its website. The 2015 edition provides rates in 22 sections with 99 chapters.
A U.S. resident entering the country can claim a personal exemption once every 31 days up to $800 or $1,600, depending on the country of origin, as of 2015. Customs does not include alcohol in this exemption, but 1 liter of alcohol is exempt for all returning residents, notes U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Individuals bringing alcohol into the country must be 21 or older and intend it for personal use only. Local laws may prohibit certain types of alcohol or limit the amount the traveler can bring into the state. Similar age and local restrictions apply to tobacco products, and imports are capped at 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars per individual.
Travelers can pay duties in U.S. currency only, explains U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Customs officials also accept money orders, traveler’s checks, personal checks from U.S. banks, and MasterCard or Visa cards at select locations.