[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 243 (Wednesday, December 18, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 76529-76533]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30075]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

19 CFR Part 148

[CBP Dec. 13-19; USCBP-2012-0008]
RIN 1515-AD76


Members of a Family for Purpose of Filing CBP Family Declaration

AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland 
Security; Department of the Treasury.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule affects persons eligible to file a single 
customs declaration. The final rule expands the definitions of family 
members residing in one household. As a result of this expansion, more 
U.S. returning resident and non-resident visitor families will be 
eligible to file a single customs declaration, and correspondingly, 
more U.S. returning resident family members may group their personal 
duty exemptions.

DATES: Effective January 17, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sophie Galvan, Program Manager, 
Trusted Traveler Programs, Office of Field Operations, (202) 344-2292.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On March 27, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 
published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal 
Register (77 FR 18143) proposing to amend title 19 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (19 CFR) regarding U.S. returning residents who are 
eligible to file a single customs declaration for members of a family 
residing in one household and traveling together upon arrival in the 
United States. The amendments proposed in the NPRM would expand the 
definition of ``members of a family residing in one household'' for 
purposes of allowing a responsible family member to make a joint 
declaration, either oral or written, for articles acquired abroad for 
all members of a family residing in one household and traveling 
together on their return to the United States.
    The NPRM proposed to expand the relationships included in the 
definition of ``members of a family residing in one household'' and to 
refer to the additions as ``domestic relationships.'' As proposed in 
the NPRM, ``domestic relationships'' would include foster children, 
stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and 
individuals with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship 
within the definition of ``members of a family residing in one 
household.'' ``Domestic relationships'' would also include two adult 
individuals in a committed relationship wherein the partners share 
financial assets and obligations, and are not married to, or a partner 
of, anyone else, including, but not limited to, long-time companions, 
and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships. The proposed term 
``domestic relationship'' would not extend to roommates or other 
cohabitants not otherwise meeting the above definition. Additionally, 
the proposed changes would not alter the residency requirements that, 
in order to file a family declaration, members of a family residing in 
one household must have lived together in one household at their last 
permanent residence and intend to live together in one household after 
their arrival in the United States. The NPRM also proposed to remove 
outdated references to ``resident servants'' of a family and state 
instead that individuals employed by the household but not related by 
blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption cannot be included 
in the family declaration.
    Finally, the NPRM proposed to remove the phrase ``regardless of 
age'' where it currently appears in the introductory text of Sec. Sec.  
148.34(b) and 148.103(b), because it would not be consistent with the 
proposed definition of ``domestic relationships.''
    CBP solicited comments on the proposed rulemaking.

[[Page 76530]]

Discussion of Comments

    Twenty-three commenters responded to the solicitation of public 
comment in the proposed rule. Twenty-two of those comments were 
favorable, noting in particular that the proposed amendments would 
reduce passenger processing time and create less paperwork for people 
who are traveling together as a family. Several of the commenters 
included additional suggestions. The one comment that was opposed to 
the proposal was submitted anonymously and stated that ``this needs to 
stay as is, don't add to or change it.'' Since the proposed definition 
more accurately reflects family relationships among members of the 
traveling public, CBP is not persuaded by this comment. A description 
of the comments received, together with CBP's responses, is set forth 
below.

Overall

Comment

    The vast majority of commenters supported CBP's effort to broaden 
the definition of members of a family residing in one household to more 
accurately reflect relationships among members of the public who are 
traveling together as a family, to reduce passenger processing time, 
and to create less paperwork for people who are traveling together as a 
family. Many commenters shared their own personal experiences upon 
their return to the United States and outlined what they perceived to 
be inconsistent and sometimes rude behavior by CBP officers. These 
commenters expressed their expectation that when the rule becomes 
final, CBP would apply the proposed definition consistently at all 
ports of entry.

CBP Response

    CBP is encouraged that members of the public are receptive to the 
proposal to expand the definition of members of a family residing in 
one household. Expanding the definition beyond the current criteria of 
``by blood, marriage, and adoption,'' would facilitate travel for 
families and would reduce the paperwork burden on both the traveling 
public and the government. As is further discussed in a response to a 
comment below, CBP plans to raise public awareness and train CBP staff 
to promote the consistent application of this new definition once it is 
final.

Children of Domestic Partners

Comment

    One commenter suggested that the regulations should clearly 
identify children of domestic partners as being within the definition 
of ``members of a family residing in one household.''

CBP Response

    Biological and adopted children of a domestic partner meet the 
criteria of being ``related by blood'' or ``by adoption'' of paragraph 
(b)(1) of Sec.  148.34 (19 CFR 148.34(b)(1)). The revised definition 
was expanded to also include foster children, stepchildren, half-
siblings, legal wards, and other dependents, and individuals with an in 
loco parentis or guardianship relationship.

Shared Financial Assets and Obligations

Comment

    Three commenters noted that the proposed language appears to 
exclude some family members who should fall within the definition of 
``domestic relationship.'' For instance, one commenter questioned 
whether the proposed definition would exclude a family member who does 
not work outside of the house because that family member would not 
``share financial assets and obligations.''
    One commenter was concerned that the sharing of financial assets 
may be interpreted too narrowly by CBP Officers. This commenter 
recommended that the requirement of ``wherein the partners share 
financial assets and obligations'' in the definition of ``domestic 
relationship'' be revised to read, ``wherein the partners are 
financially interdependent'' because a partner who does not work 
outside the home may not be contributing to or ``sharing financial 
assets,'' but he or she is financially interdependent with the salary-
earning partner.
    One commenter suggested amending the definition to read as follows: 
``Two adults who are in a committed relationship including, but not 
limited to, long-time companions, and couples in civil unions, or 
domestic partnerships, wherein the partners are financially 
interdependent, and are not married to, or a partner of anyone else.''
    Some commenters recommended that CBP not define ``members of a 
family'' by their finances at all.

CBP Response

    The regulations at issue address the ability of returning U.S. 
residents to group the exemptions for articles acquired abroad to which 
the several members of the family may be entitled. Therefore, the issue 
of finances is relevant to the definition. CBP interprets the phrase 
``wherein the partners share financial assets and obligations'' to 
include situations where one partner does not work outside the home. 
Nevertheless, upon consideration of this comment, CBP agrees that the 
term, ``financially interdependent'' is clearer, and CBP will adopt 
this suggestion.

Definition of Resident

Comment

    Some commenters expressed concern whether the definition of 
``resident'' as used by CBP in this context is the same as ``permanent 
resident'' as used in the immigration law context. Another commenter 
expressed the view that the definitions of ``resident'' and ``non-
resident'' are not clear and should be further explained in the 
regulations.

CBP Response

    The term ``resident'' for purposes of this regulation is not the 
same as ``lawful permanent resident'' in immigration law. For customs 
purposes, pursuant to 19 CFR 148.2, persons arriving from foreign 
countries are divided into two categories: (1) Residents of the United 
States returning from abroad and (2) all other persons (i.e., 
visitors). In describing further how a returning resident is described 
for customs purposes, paragraph (b) of Sec.  148.2 provides, in 
pertinent part, that citizens of the United States or persons who have 
formerly resided in the United States (including American citizens who 
are residents of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands of the United States) will be 
deemed residents of the United States returning from abroad within the 
meaning of ``residents'' as used in Chapter 98, Subchapter IV, 
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (19 U.S.C. 1202), in 
the absence of evidence that they have established a home elsewhere. 
For example, U.S. lawful permanent residents returning from abroad, who 
satisfy the definition of ``members of a family residing in one 
household,'' also may file a joint CBP declaration and aggregate their 
duty exemptions.
    Paragraph (c) of Sec.  148.2 provides that, ``[a]ny person arriving 
in the United States who is not a resident of the United States or who, 
though a resident of the United States, is not returning from abroad, 
shall be treated for the purpose of these regulations as a 
nonresident.''

Married Women's Status and Gender Language

Comment

    Two commenters recommend that 19 CFR 148.2(b) be amended to remove

[[Page 76531]]

outdated language. Section 148.2(b) states, in part, ``For this 
purpose, the residence of a wife shall be deemed to be that of her 
husband unless satisfactory evidence is presented that the wife has 
established a separate residence elsewhere.'' One commenter proposed 
that CBP eliminate this sentence and the following sentence on 
children's residence or revise it to be gender neutral and encompass 
the revised definition of members of a family residing in one 
household.

CBP Response

    CBP agrees. In the regulatory text, CBP is removing the outdated 
sentence regarding the residence of the wife because a woman can claim 
her own individual personal exemption. CBP is also revising the 
sentence on a child's residence to make it gender neutral.

Non-Resident Visitors

Comment

    Two commenters recommend that the regulations be further amended to 
permit visitors entering the United States to complete a single CBP 
Form 6059-B in accordance with the expanded definition of family.

CBP Response

    In the NPRM, CBP proposed to revise the definition of the phrase 
``members of a family residing in one household.'' That phrase is used 
in 19 CFR 148.34(b) and 148.103(b), which relate to the family grouping 
of exemptions for articles acquired abroad to which only returning 
residents are eligible.
    All individuals entering the United States must declare all 
articles acquired abroad to CBP at the port of first arrival in the 
United States. Returning residents and nonresidents arriving in the 
United States must make a declaration, either oral or written, of the 
merchandise they are importing and must pay duty on the merchandise 
unless specifically exempted by law. See 19 U.S.C. 1202 (General Note 
3(i), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)). Unless 
an oral declaration is accepted, a person arriving in the United States 
must complete a written declaration on CBP Form 6059-B and present the 
form to the CBP officer at inspection. Section 148.14 of title 19 CFR 
is the regulatory section applicable to all international travelers 
presenting themselves at a port of entry. That section uses the phrase 
``family group residing in one household.'' The term ``family group 
residing in one household'' is not currently defined in statute or 
regulation. In light of the comments CBP has received and for 
consistency and clarity, CBP will amend Sec.  148.14 to explicitly 
define the phrase ``family group residing in one household'' to mean 
persons who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship (as 
defined in Sec.  148.34(c)), or adoption.
    Accordingly, visitors entering the U.S. who meet the expanded 
definition of family group residing in one household may file a single 
CBP Form 6059-B, but they do not get the benefit of any duty 
aggregation, or any other benefits which are only provided to residents 
of the United States.

Binational Families

Comment

    One commenter raised questions regarding ``binational families'' 
(families where one family member is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent 
resident and another is a non-immigrant) and the fact that the current 
form does not indicate that families must have the same U.S. 
immigration status in order to submit the form jointly.

CBP Response

    As indicated before, the declaration requirement is controlled by 
the customs regulations which are in title 19 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR); this regulation does not concern the immigration 
status of the traveler which would be controlled by the regulations in 
title 8 of the CFR. The proposed changes do not alter the residency 
requirements that, in order to file a family declaration, members of a 
family residing in one household must have lived together in one 
household at their last permanent residence in the United States and 
intend to live together in one household after their arrival in the 
United States. Therefore, if one family member resides in the United 
States and another resides abroad, even if they are traveling together, 
they are not eligible to file a joint customs declaration. In this 
instance, the returning resident would be entitled to the personal duty 
exemption of $800 for articles acquired abroad (and not the family 
grouping of duty aggregation of $1,600) while the non-resident family 
member would be entitled to the duty exemptions allowed for visitors.

Published Guidance & Training

Comment

    Two commenters recommend that CBP publish guidance for the public 
and train employees on the meaning of ``residence'' and ``permanent 
residence.'' Two commenters suggested that CBP include the new 
definition of ``domestic relationship'' on the instructions for CBP 
Form 6059-B and in the FAQ section of CBP Form 6059-B posted on the CBP 
Web site. A commenter expressed the need for training on the new 
regulations in order for them to be implemented properly and 
recommended that instruction on the proposed changes be part of the 
regularly scheduled training of all CBP officers.

CBP Response

    CBP understands the need to make clear to the traveling public who 
is included in the expanded definition of family to facilitate the 
completion of customs declarations. After this rule is published, CBP 
plans to update the travel section of the CBP Web site including the 
FAQ section on CBP Form 6059-B itself which is also found on the CBP 
Web site. CBP's public affairs materials will also be updated to 
reflect the expanded definition of the terms ``members of a family 
residing in one household'' and a ``family group residing in one 
household.'' The Office of Field Operations (OFO) and the Office of 
Public Affairs plan to do outreach to trade groups and airline 
associations so that the public is made aware of the changes. For CBP 
officers and OFO staff, a roll out of memoranda, musters, and updates 
of CBP Officer Basic Training Academy training will be implemented upon 
final rule publication.
    While CBP will not be amending CBP Form 6059-B (OMB Control Number 
1651-0009) at this time, the form is scheduled to expire in February 
2014. CBP will solicit comments during the renewal process on whether 
the form should be revised to improve clarity of the form or to reduce 
the number of questions listed on the form. CBP will also evaluate 
whether oral declarations could be used more often than written 
declarations. More discussion regarding the information collection 
associated with this regulation can be found later in the document in 
the section ``Paperwork Reduction Act''.

Conclusion

    After review of the comments and further consideration, CBP has 
decided to adopt as final, with the changes discussed above in the 
preamble and with additional non-substantive editorial changes, the 
proposed rule published in the Federal Register (77 FR 18143) on March 
27, 2012.

Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is

[[Page 76532]]

necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits 
(including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety 
effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of 
reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. 
This rule has been designated a ``significant regulatory action'' 
although not economically significant, under section 3(f) of Executive 
Order 12866. Accordingly, the Office of Management and Budget has 
reviewed this rule.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires 
Federal agencies to examine the impact a rule will have on small 
entities. A small entity may be: a small business (defined as any 
independently owned and operated business not dominant in its field 
that qualifies as a small business under the Small Business Act); a 
small not-for-profit organization; or a small governmental jurisdiction 
(locality with fewer than 50,000 people). Because this rule directly 
regulates individuals and families, and these are not considered small 
entities, CBP certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that the amendments will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3507), an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not 
required to respond to, a collection of information unless the 
collection of information displays a valid control number assigned by 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The information collected under 
19 CFR part 148 is included under OMB control number 1651-0009. There 
are no new collections of information required by this document and CBP 
is not modifying the form at this time. The number of responses related 
to the completion of the CBP Form 6059-B (customs declaration) for OMB 
control number 1651-0009 by members of the public traveling by air and 
sea is currently 105,606,000. This number has been updated below to 
reflect an estimated decrease of 1,100,000 customs declarations 
completed as a result of this rule:
    Estimated Number of Respondents (Travelers): 104,506,000.
    Estimated Time per Response: 4 minutes.
    Estimated Total Responses: 104,506,000.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 7,001,902.
    The customs declaration (CBP Form 6059-B) is due to expire on 
February 28, 2014. CBP will determine whether the form should be 
significantly revised, or whether there can be an expanded use of oral 
declarations instead of written declarations to further reduce the 
paperwork burden on the traveler. CBP plans to publish a 60-day Federal 
Register Notice and a 30-day Federal Register Notice to solicit 
comments from the public on CBP Form 6059-B prior to its expiration. 
CBP Form 6059-B and instructions can be seen on the following Web site: 
http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/sample_declaration_form.xml.

Signing Authority

    This document is being issued in accordance with 19 CFR 0.1(a)(1).

List of Subjects in 19 CFR Part 148

    Customs duties and inspection, Declarations, Taxes.

Amendments to the CBP Regulations

    For the reasons set forth above, part 148 of the CBP regulations 
(19 CFR part 148) is amended as set forth below.

PART 148--PERSONAL DECLARATIONS AND EXEMPTIONS

0
1. The general authority for part 148 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  19 U.S.C. 66, 1496, 1498, 1624. The provisions of 
this part, except for subpart C, are also issued under 19 U.S.C. 
1202 (General Note 3(i), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United 
States);
* * * * *

0
2. In Sec.  148.2,
0
a. Paragraphs (a) through (d) are amended by removing the word, 
``shall'' wherever it appears, and adding in its place the word, 
``will''; and
0
b. Paragraph (b) is further amended by removing the last two sentences 
and adding a new last sentence.
    The addition reads as follows:


Sec.  148.2  Residence status of arriving persons.

* * * * *
    (b) * * * The residence of a minor child will be presumed to be the 
residence of the child's parents.
* * * * *

0
3. Section 148.14 is amended by removing the last sentence and adding 
two sentences to read as follows:


Sec.  148.14  Family declarations.

    * * * ``A family group residing in one household'' means persons 
who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship (as defined 
in Sec.  148.34(c)), or adoption. Individuals who are employed by the 
household but not related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or 
adoption will not be included in the family declaration.

0
4. In Sec.  148.34:
0
a. Paragraph (a) is amended by revising the last sentence;
0
b. Paragraph (b) is revised; and
0
c. Paragraph (c) is added.
    The additions and revisions read as follows:


Sec.  148.34  Family grouping of exemptions for articles acquired 
abroad.

    (a) * * * No exemptions allowable to individuals employed by the 
household and accompanying the family but not related by blood, 
marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption will be included in the 
family grouping.
    (b) Members of a family residing in one household. ``Members of a 
family residing in one household'' includes all persons who:
    (1) Are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or 
adoption;
    (2) Lived together in one household at their last permanent 
residence; and
    (3) Intend to live in one household after their arrival in the 
United States.
    (c) Domestic relationship. As used in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the term ``domestic relationship'' includes foster children, 
stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, individuals 
with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship, and two adults 
who are in a committed relationship including, but not limited to, 
long-time companions, and couples in civil unions, or domestic 
partnerships, wherein the partners are financially interdependent, and 
are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else. The term ``domestic 
relationship'' does not extend to roommates or other cohabitants not 
otherwise meeting this definition.

0
5. In Sec.  148.103, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  148.103  Family grouping of allowances.

* * * * *
    (b) Members of a family residing in one household. ``Members of a 
family residing in one household'' includes all persons who:
    (1) Are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship (as 
defined in Sec.  148.34(c)), or adoption;
    (2) Lived together in one household at their last permanent 
residence; and

[[Page 76533]]

    (3) Intend to live in one household after their arrival in the 
United States.

Thomas S. Winkowski,
Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
    Approved: December 13, 2013.
Timothy E. Skud,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
[FR Doc. 2013-30075 Filed 12-17-13; 8:45 am]
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