The following pages explain how to fill out form DS-1504, Request for Customs Clearance of Merchandise. The lines highlighted in bold lettering correspond to the titles of each information block on that form. Please note that all DS-1504 forms must be typewritten.
Identify the country name of the Embassy, Consulate, Legation, or International Organization (hereinafter referred to as the "foreign mission").
Air: Enter the airport of arrival where goods will clear customs. (If the destination airport is not the first customs port of arrival in the United States, refer to "Immediate Transportation" paragraph below.)
Vessel: Enter the port where goods will clear customs. (If the final destination port is not the first customs port of arrival in the United States, refer to "Immediate Transportation" paragraph below.)
Truck: Enter the name of the place of border crossing from either Canada or Mexico.
Mail: Enter the complete address of the U. S. Post Office where the goods arrive.
Bonded Warehouse: Enter the port in which the Customs-bonded warehouse is located.
For official shipments, the consignee will be the foreign mission or other recognized entity having duty-free admission privileges.
For personal shipments, provide the name and title of the individual to whom the goods belong and for whose exclusive use they are being imported. The individual must have been (or is being) notified to the Department of State and must be eligible for duty-free admission privileges. For example, permanent residents of the United States are not eligible.
The consignee should be identified on the shipping document as follows:
For Air Shipments: Enter the name of the person or entity identified on the Air Waybill. If the foreign mission is listed on the Air Waybill but the goods are actually for the personal use of an entitled individual, list the name of the individual in parenthesis after the name of the foreign mission -- example: Embassy of Utopia (for John Doe).
For Sea Freight: Enter the name of the person or entity identified on the Bill of Lading. If the foreign mission is listed on the Bill of Lading but the goods are actually for the personal use of an entitled individual, list the name of the individual in parenthesis after the name of the foreign mission -- example: Embassy of Utopia (for John Doe).
For Truck Cargo: Enter the name of the person or entity identified on the truck manifest. If the foreign mission is listed on the truck manifest but the goods are actually for the personal use of an entitled individual, list the name of the individual in parenthesis after the name of the foreign mission -- example: Embassy of Utopia (for John Doe).
For IT Shipments: Enter the name of person or entity shown on the Immediate Transport document. If the foreign mission is listed on the IT document but the goods are actually for the personal use of an entitled individual, list the name of the individual in parenthesis after the name of the foreign mission -- example: Embassy of Utopia (for John Doe).
For Mail: Enter the name of the addressee.
For Bonded Warehouse Purchases: Enter the name of person who is requesting the goods. For an official function such as a national day celebration, list the name of the host of the event.
Please select the appropriate box:
Official: The Customs Regulations of the United States permit duty free admission of articles which are the property of a foreign government and which will be used only in connection with noncommercial functions. For all importation requests for official purposes, please explain the official nature of the request in the "Description of Merchandise" block below. Categories of official requests are:
Office supplies, equipment, and other articles for the official use of a foreign government;
Items for an exhibition which is sponsored by or participated in by a foreign government and which are not connected with commercial undertakings. To qualify for duty-free importation, no admission may be charged and items may neither be sold nor advertised for sale;
Equipment being imported for limited duration and which will remain the property of the foreign government until it is exported, such as equipment being serviced or repaired;
Items intended to be permanent fixtures, such as carpeting, draperies, construction materials, etc.;
Printed matter that is the property of a foreign government, that does not contain advertising matter, and that is being imported for free distribution.
Personal: Foreign mission personnel qualify for free importation privileges under the provisions of the U.S. Customs Regulations, Sections 148.85(a) and 148.85(b); Articles 36(1)(b) and 37(2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR); and Articles 50(1)(b) and 50(2) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). Accordingly, eligible personnel may import articles, with the exception of those prohibited by law, free of duty. Such items must be for the personal or family use of eligible personnel. The Department of States does not impose any quantity or time limitations, except to reciprocate for like treatment by a sending government, under the terms of Articles 47 and 72 of the VCDR and VCCR respectively.
Official and Personal: This block should be checked if the request contains both official and personal goods in a combined shipment. If so, the official goods should be clearly identified as such in the "Description of Merchandise" block. This block is also used to request duty-free admission of alcoholic beverages and other consumables to be used for official entertainment purposes by a foreign mission. Such items are by nature intended for personal consumption, and should not be identified as solely for official use. Identify the type of official function in the "Description of Merchandise" block.
Personal Identification Number (PID):
For personal import requests, enter the Personal Identification Number of the requester. For official requests, leave this block empty.
If an individual for whom duty-free admission is being requested is newly-assigned, check the appropriate box and provide the following information:
Date of arrival in the United States (this may be typed in the box marked "Enter PID");
Copy of passport page showing photograph and name;
Copy of visa;
Copy of the "Notification of Appointment" form DS-2003 or DS-2004.
The Department of State may on occasion accept and initiate processing of the request for duty-free admission of personal effects prior to the arrival of the individual in order to facilitate his or her establishment. In this case, all of the above information must be provided, except that the DS-2003/2004 will lack the individual's photograph and signature. Although initial processing of paperwork can be initiated upon receipt of these documents, final authorization for release of the personal effects will be granted only upon submission of the fully-completed and signed DSP- 2003/2004 after the individual's arrival. Requests to initiate the clearance process prior to arrival will be accepted only from foreign missions whose governments provide reciprocal courtesies to U.S. personnel. Each such request must contain the following statement in the "Description of Merchandise" block:
"This request to initiate clearance prior to arrival of the consignee is made in accordance with reciprocal treatment provided to U.S. personnel in [name of country]."
Air: Enter the name of the airline on which the goods will arrive in the U.S. and the flight number and arrival date. The flight number must have the carrier prefix as well as the number, for example: "Skyway Airlines Flight SA-#100, date of arrival August 30, 2003"
Vessel: Enter the name of the steamship company and the name of the vessel, the voyage number and the expected arrival date (ETA).
Truck: For shipments crossing by land from Canada or Mexico, enter the name of the trucking company and the estimated date/time of arrival at the border.
IT: Enter the name of the common carrier to whom goods were released from the Port of Entry and identify who is transporting the goods to their final destination, and the expected arrival date.
Mail: Enter the name and address of the post office where the shipment is being held.
Bonded Warehouse: Enter the name and address of the importer of the goods.
Note: this may be different from the bonded warehouse where the goods are located, unless the importer operates his own bonded warehouse.
Customs Entry or Manifest No.:
IT: Enter the IT number. (Sometimes an Air Waybill may be stamped by Customs as the IT document. If that is done, indicate the Air Waybill number as the IT number.)
All others: Leave blank.
Air Waybill or Bill of Lading No:
Air: Enter the Air Waybill number prefixed by "AWB."
Note: In some cases a consolidated shipment will arrive in the United States under a Master Air Waybill and is split up for delivery to different consignees for whom House Air Waybills are assigned. In such cases, the Master Air Waybill number should be listed in this block and the House Air Waybill (HAWB) number entered in the "Description of Merchandise" block below. A Master Air Waybill always has eleven digits.
A copy of all Air Waybills must be attached to the DS-1504.
Vessel: Enter the Bill of Lading number prefixed by "B/L." If there are both Master or Ocean and House Bills of Lading, list the Master or Ocean here and put the House number in the "Description of Merchandise" block below. Master or Ocean Bills of Lading are usually identified as MBL or OBL; House as HBL. Master or Ocean Bills of Lading always start with four letters that identify the shipping company. Those numbers are always clearly identified on the Notice of Arrival form.
A copy of all Bills of Lading must be attached to the DS-1504. In addition, a copy of the Notice of Arrival should be attached, if available.
Truck: Enter the Manifest Number, if available. (There may not be one assigned.)
IT: Enter the AWB or B/L number as appropriate. (In addition, include the IT number in the "Customs Entry or Manifest No." block.)
Mail: Leave this entry blank.
Bonded Warehouse: Leave this entry blank.
List the gross weight of the goods being imported. This information is available from the Air Waybill, the Bill of Lading, or the mail notification card/receipt. Indicate whether the weight measure is in pounds (lbs.) or kilograms (Kgs.). For bonded warehouse purchases, leave this block empty.
Mail Entry No.:
For mail deliveries only, enter the article number from the Delivery Notice/Reminder/Receipt (PS Form 3849. This is usually found in the upper right corner. For all other types of shipment, leave blank. Note that the address of the mail facility should be indicated in the "Carrier/Supplier" block above. Please attach the original copy of the notification card/receipt to the DS-1504. The original will be returned to the Embassy attached to the approved copy of the DS-1504.
Description of Merchandise:
The following five elements must be included on all requests for clearance:
Description: The items in the shipment must be fully described. If a shipment under one Bill of Lading contains different types of cargo (for example household effects and a vehicle) both should be clearly identified. However, do not submit separate DS-1504 forms for different items if they are combined on the same Bill of Lading or Air Waybill. For official shipments, the description should include confirmation of governmental ownership and the intended disposition (example: remain in the mission, export, distribute free to the public, etc.)
Quantity: Enter the number of cartons, cases, packages, boxes, crates, or items.
Note: pallets, containers, skids, and igloos are means of transport, not measurements of quantity. They are insufficient to describe the quantity unless the number of cartons, packages, boxes, or items is identified. Example: "One 20' container of personal effects containing 220 boxes" is acceptable. If the goods are containerized, indicate the container number in this entry box.
Delivery address: Enter the address where the shipment will be delivered.
Location of goods: Enter the name and complete address of the storage facility where the goods are being held and from which U.S. Customs will release them. Occasionally, the storage location may not be known when the DS-1504 is submitted; for example, when a sea shipment is less than a full container load (LCL). Fully describe any such situation and provide the name, address, and telephone number of the moving and storage company handling the customs clearance.
Customs brokers do not hold goods in storage. Therefore, the address of the customs broker should not be entered here
Air: Enter the name, address, building number, and telephone number of the facility where the goods are being held for Customs clearance. This may be either the airline's own warehouse, a Customs Container Station, or a Customs Examination Station (CES) or a Customs border warehouse facility.
Vessel: Enter the name, address, building number, and telephone number of the facility where the goods are being held for Customs clearance. This may be the steamship company warehouse, a Customs Container Station, or a Customs Examination Station (CES).
Truck: Enter the name, address, building number, and phone number of the facility where the goods are being held for Customs clearance. This may be a Customs Container Station, a Customs Examination Station (CES), or a Customs border warehouse facility.
Bonded Warehouse Enter the name and address of the bonded warehouse or foreign trade zone where or the goods are located. This information may be different from the name and Foreign Trade Zone: address of the importer from whom the goods were ordered. If unsure, ask the importer for the exact address of the warehouse.
Mail: Enter the name and address of the post office where the goods are being held.
The following categories of imports require specialized information in the "Description of Merchandise" block on the DS-1504:
Motor vehicles: Include the make, model, year of manufacture, and vehicle identification number (VIN).
State whether the vehicle is "conforming" or "non- conforming." This means that it either does or does not meet the standards of the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The applicable certifications should be typed on the DS-1504, for example:
"The vehicle does conform to DOT safety standards" or...
"The vehicle does not conform to DOT safety standards, however the consignee requests exemption from compliance with these requirements" and,
"The vehicle does conform to EPA environmental standards" or
"The vehicle does not conform to EPA environmental standards, however the consignee requests exemption from compliance with these requirements."
U.S. Customs requires that DOT and EPA forms be completed prior to releasing the vehicle. Foreign missions may choose to complete these forms in advance to expedite processing, but it is not necessary to attach these forms to the DS-1504. Nevertheless, U.S. Customs strongly encourages completion of the forms prior to submitting the DS-1504 to Customs, since often the person claiming the vehicle has no knowledge of or authority to sign, the declaration forms.
Note: Vehicle imports require the consignee to register the car with the Office of Foreign Missions prior to its release. Foreign missions should initiate the registration process and importation request simultaneously to ensure that the clearance is not delayed.
Firearms: Enter the make of the weapon(s), year of manufacture, and serial number.
Note: Foreign missions are reminded that granting permission to possess firearms in the United States is a matter within the jurisdiction of local authorities. Any request to possess or carry a firearm must be made to the appropriate authority in the local jurisdiction in which the affected person proposes to keep the weapon. Customs officials will release imported firearms only upon presentation of the authorization form issued by the appropriate local authorities.
Agricultural Products: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict regulations on the importation of agricultural products such as meat, fruits and vegetables, and plants. A detailed inventory should be provided for any shipment containing these items. Also, certifications or other documentation may be required before these items can be released. Foreign missions intending to import agricultural products should familiarize themselves with the specialized requirements well before the intended arrival date.
Purchases from Bonded Warehouses: Alcoholic beverages purchased from a Customs Bonded Warehouse or a Foreign Trade Zone must be itemized, including the size of the bottles and the number of bottles for each size.
Note: The Department of State does not impose quantitative restrictions on alcoholic beverages or other items purchased from bonded warehouses, except in rare instances as a reciprocal measure for like treatment by another country. The Department expects responsible senior official of mission to screen these requests (submitted on the DS-1504 form) for reasonableness of quantity and frequency of submission in order to meet personal and representational needs only. Liquor requests for an official function should be identified in the "Purpose" block as "Official and Personal". The type and date of the official function and the name of the host should be entered.
Pouches: Customs regulations provide for the immediate release of unaccompanied diplomatic and consular pouches when they meet the requirements of U.S. Customs. These requirements are:
- Bear external, visible markings that clearly identify it as a pouch, for example by stating: "Diplomatic Pouch" or "Consular Pouch."
- Be addressed to one of the following offices of the Government or organization whose seal the pouch bears: an embassy, legation, consulate, mission, or regional office of an international organization listed as such in section 148.7(b) of U.S. Customs regulations.
- Be securely closed with the seal of the sending government on the lock.
- Have a detachable certificate on the outside. The certificate, which is removed and retained by U.S. Customs, provides the authority for immediate release, without the requirement for submission of a DS-1504. If there is no detachable certificate on the pouch, the foreign mission should submit a DS-1504, which identifies the shipment as a "Diplomatic Bag" or "Consular Bag" and includes the following statement:
"Admission without entry or examination is requested."
The Department of State will make every effort to get diplomatic and consular pouches released as soon as possible.
Exhibition Materials: Requests for duty-free clearance of exhibition materials must contain all of the particulars of the shipment and the exhibition as follows:
Ownership and a good description of the materials;
Description of items, identify subject matter including government publications and printed matter.
Location and dates of the exhibition (if outside the foreign mission, provide a copy of the contract from the hosting location);
Sponsorship, purpose, and intended participants;
Intended disposition of the goods
Will items be offered for sale, distributed gratis, or will orders be taken at this exhibition?
State final disposition of goods.
This information must be typed in the "Description of Merchandise" block, even if it takes two or three DS-1504s to answer all statements above. Flyers, programs, announcements, and contracts may be submitted as attachments to the DS-1504.
House Air Waybill or House Bill of Lading: If the number entered in the "Air Waybill or Bill of Lading Number" block above, is a Master Air Waybill or Ocean Bill of Lading number, include in the "Description of Merchandise" block the House Waybill or Bill of Lading number.
Reciprocity Certification: For requests to initiate the clearance process of personal effects prior to the arrival of the individual, include the following statement: "This request to initiate clearance prior to arrival of the consignee is made in accordance with reciprocal treatment provided to U.S. personnel in [name of country]."
This block must be completed by all international organizations. Embassies and Consulates should leave it blank.
Date that the DS-1504 is prepared (to be completed by all requesters).
Embassy or Consulate Seal:
Foreign Missions should stamp, initial, and date each copy of the DS-1504 form. If a mission chooses to, it may use an embossing seal that will penetrate all six copies, rather than in stamping each copy.
U.S. Department of State Approval:
U.S. Customs Authorization:
Please attach photocopies of all pertinent paperwork as appropriate. This should include all of the available and applicable shipping and personal identification documentation identified in the detailed instructions above, such as:
Air Waybill (Master and House, if applicable) and Carrier Certificate
Bill of Lading (Master or Ocean and House, if applicable) and Arrival Notice
Identification page of the applicant's passport
Visa (copy only)
Copy of the "Notification of Appointment" form DS-2003 or DS-2004
Inquiries regarding these procedures - or any other problems - should be directed to the Office of Foreign Missions at 202/895-3563, between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.