Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Same Sex Couples Now Count as "Family" in View of US Customs

According to their press office, on December 13, 2013, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent a Final Rule to the Federal Register to broaden  the definition of  “members of a family residing in one household” to more accurately reflect relationships for U.S. citizens, residents and international visitors who are traveling together as a family.

Using a Global Entry Card allows travelers to submit Customs Forms Online at Port of Entry

In a move that may seem long overdue, the expanded definition will allow long-term same-sex couples and travelers in a variety of other "domestic relationships" to file a joint customs declaration for items acquired abroad.

No more sitting on the plane wondering how many of these Customs Forms to fill out, trying to divide the souvenirs so that no one in the party will be 'caught' with too many purchases and be required to pay duty on them.

According to the CBP, the enlightened agency that brought us the Global Entry pass, they have decided that the term “domestic relationship” will now include foster children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and individuals with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship.

More controversial, perhaps, the official "domestic relationship" also now includes two adults who are in a committed relationship including, but not limited to, long-term companions and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships where the partners share financial assets and obligations, and are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else.

The term "members of a family residing in one household," says CBP, "will continue to encompass relationships of blood, adoption, and marriage" although we're not sure why they've bothered with this particular play on words.

The rule becomes effective January 14, 2014 and should allow more returning U.S. citizens, residents and international visitors a less stressful entry with less paperwork according to the CBP. 

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