E.d. Note: This blog was cross-posted from the Department of Homeland Security site.
Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed a revision to its customs declaration regulations that will save returning U.S. travelers time and save the agency money while still maintaining security at our ports of entry.
The proposed update addresses when members of a family residing in one household and traveling together on their return to the U.S. may make a joint declaration for all members of the family. We anticipate that expanding the definition of “members of a family residing in one household” will reduce the amount of paperwork and time that CBP officers would need to review during inspection and, therefore, facilitate passenger processing. Streamlining this procedure is expected to result in more than $2 million in time savings annually and allow CBP officers to dedicate more attention to other admissibility issues and travelers that may pose threats.
CBP is proposing to expand the definition of the term “members of a family residing in one household” to include domestic relationships, which would allow more U.S. returning residents to file a joint customs declaration for articles acquired abroad. “Domestic relationship” would include foster children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, and other types of dependents. This definition would also include two adults who are in a committed relationship, including long-term companions and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships where the partners share financial assets and obligations. Of course, “members of a family residing in one household” will continue to encompass relationships by blood, adoption, and marriage.
CBP’s mission is to facilitate legal travel in the U.S. while protecting our borders. By reducing costs, improving traveler processing, and more accurately reflecting relationships between members of the public who are traveling together as a family, we believe this rule update will assist CBP in delivering on its goal.
Jane Holl Lute is Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security