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Importing menpo (face guard) to the USA


Yamato collector
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I am interested in importing a menpo face guard from Japan to the US (cost exceeds $800) and was looking for some advice on:

  1. how to describe on the customs forms (concerned that any indication of it being armor might complicate matters)
  2. customs codes

I won't be able to get any supporting documentation as far as age or cultural value. 

Thanks,

Ron

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Hello Grey,

Thanks for the advice, but can't trust that will be the case. Indeed, I about two months ago I had a daimyo fireman's hanten sent from Canada with Fedex where the dealer marked it as antique, Fedex requested certification of it being an antique, and still customs reclassified it to a category for vintage clothing incurring duties. Also a proxy service in Japan informed me that US customs has been getting more suspicious of declarations of late. 

It seems that this is less likely when sending it by postal service: but there has been no package service from Japan Post due to COVID. 

 

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Hello! Ron,

 

US postal service and Japan post still provide international package service through sea surface mail. It will take around two to three months for the package to arrive. Yes I know. This waiting period is super painful. But for swords, postal service is the only/best way between Japan and our country. Last week, I had a newly made Japanese sword delivered to me from Japan. The swordsmith sent the package to Japan post on July 8 and I received it on September 26. The swordsmith only said "Japanese sword" and declared the real value on the form without customs code. But still, I was not charged any duties tax this time and based on what I can see from the box of my sword, the US customs didn't open my box at all.

 

I actually have the experience of calling US customs associating with the USPS facility in Jersey city NJ ( the primary port of entry for east coast if packages are sent through postal service). The agent who picked up my call was very friendly and informative. I don't know about UPS or FedEx. But if you want to discuss your concern with the customs office that may inspect your package, maybe you can call them.

 

The link below will show you the number that I called.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/US+Customs+Services/@40.755338,-74.061654,17z/data=!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x89c25710fa0030a5:0x4e11188cd7810007!2sUSPS+International+Bulk+Mail!8m2!3d40.755338!4d-74.0594653!3m4!1s0x0:0x3afec18579b19f37!8m2!3d40.7560754!4d-74.0599966

 

AL

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3 hours ago, Yamato collector said:

Surprised. Curious what category they used that was duty exempt. Not to mention that I've been reading that there is a issue with weapons importation. 

 

this is one of the best articles in English for people to get information about import/export Nihonto. In my case, I guess they must have categorized my sword to either 

     1. 9705.00.00: item of historical or ethnographic interest (etc.) 

      or

     2. 9706.00.00: antique item more than 100 years old.

The thing is, the US customs has the authority to determine how much the US government will charge me for importing Japanese swords into our country. In other words, even if I want to pay duties tax, if the US customs say no tax, I can do nothing but obey their decision. 🙃

 

By the way, about concerns for importing weapons into the US, swords are not a problem. Please read this article from US customs official website: https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-329?language=en_US

 

Although this is an article about traveling in and out the US with swords, this last paragraph in the article I quoted here still apply to sword shipment: "Customs and Border Protection does not prohibit the importation of swords, although your local police jurisdiction might have regulations restricting having these weapons in your home. Switchblade knives* and other spring-loaded knives are prohibited and may be subject to seizure (there is an exception for one-armed persons)."

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/29/2020 at 2:55 PM, TheBigAL said:

Hello! Ron,

 

US postal service and Japan post still provide international package service through sea surface mail. It will take around two to three months for the package to arrive. Yes I know. This waiting period is super painful. But for swords, postal service is the only/best way between Japan and our country. Last week, I had a newly made Japanese sword delivered to me from Japan. The swordsmith sent the package to Japan post on July 8 and I received it on September 26. The swordsmith only said "Japanese sword" and declared the real value on the form without customs code. But still, I was not charged any duties tax this time and based on what I can see from the box of my sword, the US customs didn't open my box at all.

 

I actually have the experience of calling US customs associating with the USPS facility in Jersey city NJ ( the primary port of entry for east coast if packages are sent through postal service). The agent who picked up my call was very friendly and informative. I don't know about UPS or FedEx. But if you want to discuss your concern with the customs office that may inspect your package, maybe you can call them.

 

The link below will show you the number that I called.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/US+Customs+Services/@40.755338,-74.061654,17z/data=!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x89c25710fa0030a5:0x4e11188cd7810007!2sUSPS+International+Bulk+Mail!8m2!3d40.755338!4d-74.0594653!3m4!1s0x0:0x3afec18579b19f37!8m2!3d40.7560754!4d-74.0599966

 

AL

Ordinarily, do you use EMS or some other airmail option? Do you have any idea whether small packages are more likely to get lost by surface?

Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/19/2020 at 10:32 PM, Yamato collector said:

Ordinarily, do you use EMS or some other airmail option? Do you have any idea whether small packages are more likely to get lost by surface?

Thanks!

Sorry for the late reply. I was off in the past two weeks... If EMS is available, it is always the best option in my opinion. As for your second question, whether surface mail is safer or less safe comparing to air mail/EMS, it is hard to say. At least for my own experience, I have safely received my sword from Japan last month through surface mail. It took three months for me. So the waiting is super painful. The swordsmith who made my sword also sent other swords to other customers in the US. And all the swords he sent through surface mail have been delivered. 

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