Under the Foreign Missions Act, the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) has domestic legal authority to regulate the import of shipments consigned to foreign missions and their members in the United States. All requests for customs clearance made by foreign missions and their members must be submitted to OFM using Form DS-1504 “Request for Customs Clearance of Merchandise.” It is unlawful for foreign missions, their members, or contracted customs brokers or freight forwarders working on their behalf to attempt to facilitate the importation of such shipments using any other form or process. The only exception to this rule is for properly designated diplomatic pouches, which do not require a DS-1504.
In general, foreign missions and their members with diplomatic or consular status are eligible to import shipments without the imposition of taxes or duties. In addition, some such shipments may, in certain circumstances, be entitled to varying degrees of protection from inspection.
In addition to managing the provision of this privilege, OFM assists with the resolution of importation problems involving U.S. diplomatic and consular missions and their members abroad. In that context, OFM may impose reciprocal restrictions on the importation privileges enjoyed by a specific foreign mission and its members in the United States. For example, if country X does not permit the members of the U.S. Embassy in country X to import personally owned vehicles, OFM will impose this same restriction on the members of country X’s Embassy in the United States.
Any questions regarding the Diplomatic Importation Program should be directed to the Office of Foreign Missions by electronic mail at OFMTaxCustoms@state.gov or:
Office of Foreign Missions
3507 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20522-3303