U.S. Customs and Border Protection Issues New Rule Allowing Same Sex Couples and other Domestic Partners to File Joint Customs Declaration Forms

This morning, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, published a rule updating its definition of “members of a family” for customs declaration purposes. Under the new rule, the agency will recognize long term same-sex couples and people in other domestic relationships as families for purposes of filing a joint customs declaration when arriving in the U.S. from a foreign country.

This change greatly broadens the agency’s previous approach to what people may be considered part of a family, and will extend the ability to file customs declarations jointly to many families with LGBTQ parents. The agency’s updated definition includes families headed by same-sex married couples, domestic partners, and couples in civil unions. Additionally, family is defined include foster children, step children, half-children, legal wards, and children of an adult with day-to-day responsibilities to care for and financially support a child but no biological or legal connection (or a parent standing in loco parentis).

This new rule will allow the customs declaration process to function more efficiently and effectively by recognizing the wide variety of forms that families take both in America and around the world. The rule, which will go into effect a month, should reduce wait times for travelers and paperwork for agency workers. Family Equality Council commends the agency for taking this important step by recognizing and respecting all families in the customs declaration process.

You can read the text of the agency’s new rule here, and a press release by Customs and Border Protection about the rule here.