All mail originating outside the customs territory of the United States (i.e., outside the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) is subject to customs examination, except the following:
- Mail addressed to ambassadors and ministers (chiefs of diplomatic missions) of foreign countries.
- Letter mail known to contain or believed to contain only correspondence or documents addressed to diplomatic missions or to the officers of diplomatic missions; to international organizations designated by the president as public international organizations pursuant to the International Organizations Immunities Act; and other mail addressed to such international organizations pursuant to instructions issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
- Mail known to contain or believed to contain only official documents addressed to officials of the U.S. government.
- Refer to ASM 274.94 for examination procedures to be followed for mail addressed for delivery in the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Mail believed to contain articles liable to customs duty or prohibited articles is submitted immediately to a customs location as identified in 711.62, except when exchange offices are authorized to redispatch such mail to designated distribution offices for customs treatment.
Exchange offices that redispatch mail for submission to customs offices will attach Tag 10, Supposed Liable to Customs Duty (previously Label 81), to the label holders or hasps of sacks or pouches. Tag 10 is a reusable pink slotted tag, bearing the words This sack contains mail supposed liable to customs duty.
Distribution offices will submit mail believed to contain articles liable to customs duty or prohibited articles to customs officers as soon as possible after receipt.
Quantities of reusable Tags 10 that have been removed from sacks containing such mail should be returned periodically. These tags should be sent to the postmaster at either New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, or Miami, as appropriate from a geographic standpoint.
Airmail items receive preferential customs treatment and are submitted to customs separately from surface mail. Upon return from customs, airmail items will be dispatched by air, if that can expedite delivery.
The postmaster or other designated employee must be present when Registered Mail and sealed letters (except unregistered sealed letter mail bearing a green customs label) are opened by customs officers for examination. After customs treatment, the customs officer will repack and reseal the mail.
Should a customs officer wish to obtain advisory information from a local trade expert or from the Customs Information Exchange, permit him or her to extract a sample of the contents. The customs officer will furnish the Postal Service official with two copies of Customs Form 6423, Notice of Damage, Shortage, or Samples Retained and Notice to Call for Samples — one for enclosure in the package and the other for the Post Office files. If the sample is to be forwarded to New York, dispatch it under official registration to:
JAMES A FARLEY BLDG
US POSTAL SERVICE
421 8TH AVE
NEW YORK NY 10199–0998
for delivery to:
US CUSTOMS and border protection
one penn plz 11th fl
NEW YORK NY 10119–0002
Customs employees are responsible for repacking and resealing mail of foreign origin after customs examination. Postal Service employees accepting mail that has been in customs custody for examination must determine from external inspection whether the mail can safely bear further handling and transportation. Customs employees are responsible for restoring mail that is not in satisfactory condition.
Shipments found to be in bad order in transit or at the delivery office must be reconditioned by Postal Service employees. After reconditioning such mail, the employee should note, over his or her signature on the address side of the wrapper, the bad order and any evidence of damage or missing contents.
When U.S. Customs determines that an inbound shipment is subject to duty payment by the addressee, the mailpiece will be returned to the Postal Service bearing a red, adhesive–backed envelope, which contains Customs Form (CF) 3419, Mail Entry — Customs. When U.S. Customs determines that an inbound shipment is not subject to duty payment by the addressee, the mailpiece will be returned to the Postal Service without a “passed free” stamp or other Customs Service endorsement.
All foreign originating mailpieces that do not bear a Customs Form (CF) 3419, Mail Entry — Customs, are presumed to have been “cleared through customs” without duty being assessed. Accordingly, such articles should be processed for onward dispatch, without additional delay.
Note: U.S. Customs officers are no longer placing a diamond–shaped “passed free” stamp on inbound mailpieces that are found to be nondutiable.
U.S. Customs officers at the following locations are authorized to (1) inspect foreign–originating mailpieces that arrive through each designated port of entry; and (2) evaluate protests by addressees who are dissatisfied with the assessed value, rate, or amount of duty charged (see 713.23):