Since 1974

US Customs User Fee, Transponder, and Decal Information

User Fee Decal and Transponder Information

On April 7, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Consolidate Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) (P.L. 99-272), which authorizes the U.S. Customs Service to collect user fees for various services. The law initially established processing fees for air and sea passengers, commercial trucks, rail cars, private vessels, dutiable mail packages, and Customs broker permits. The collection of the COBRA fees for Customs services began on July 7, 1986. The User Fee was established to offset inspection costs that were previously funded solely by general taxpayer revenue. For more information please see 19 U.S.C. § 58c Fees For Certain Customs Services.

By law, an agency shall collect a claim of the United States Government for money arising out of its activities, 31 U.S.C. § 3711(a)(1). The Federal Claims Collection Standards (31 C.F.R. Parts 900-904), state that "Federal agencies shall aggressively collect all debts arising out of activities of, or referred or transferred for collection services to, that agency. Collection activities shall be undertaken promptly with follow-up action taken as necessary." 31 C.F.R. § 901.1(a).

User Fee Payment Required

Payment of the User Fee is required if:
  • You operate a vehicle for commercial purposes that enters the United States.
  • You operate a private vessel that is 30 feet or more in length that enters the United States.
  • In order to qualify as a private vessel requiring a decal, the vessel cannot carry passengers who pay a fare.
  • You operate an aircraft, which is non-commercial and enters the United States.
There is more detailed information related to the requirements of the User Fee in the Code of Federal Regulations: 19 CFR 24.22.

Cost of Annual User Fee

Costs of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) User Fees are as follows:
  • Private Aircraft Decal: $27.50 (U.S.) per calendar year*
  • Private Vessel Decal (30 feet or more in length): $27.50 (U.S.) per calendar year*
  • Commercial Vehicle User Fee:
    • $205.00 total
    • $100.00 - U.S. CBP
    • $105.00 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)**
APHIS is responsible for protecting U.S. crops and livestock from pests and diseases and for monitoring and promoting wildlife management and animal welfare. The current proposal published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2007 indicates the removal of Canada's exemption from the APHIS Fee for Commercial Vehicles is scheduled for June 1, 2007.

The User Fee will not be pro-rated for purchases made mid-year.

The User Fee year begins January 1st and ends December 31st. Therefore, all User Fees expire December 31st and are eligible for renewal.

* The User Fee for Private Aircraft and Vessels (30 Feet or over) increased 10% on April 1, 2007 pursuant to the notice published in the Federal Register on Friday, January 26, 2007.

* Vehicles that do not have an annual User Fee will be required to pay a per crossing fee each time the vehicle enters the United States. If the vehicle's User Fee is not renewed, the transponder will continue to transmit information at the port. However, a per-crossing fee will be charged.

Commercial Vehicle Information

The transponder, also known as a User Fee, is a sticker that contains a Radio-frequency identification chip (RFID technology) that transmits information about a vehicle and border crossing User Fee payment status.

User Fees are valid for the calendar year only. Transponders have a life span of up to 10 years and remain with the vehicle, even if sold.

Transponders will require replacement when damaged or lost. They also require deactivation from one's fleet when the vehicle is sold. However, transponders are associated with the vehicle's VIN and must remain with the vehicle to which it was assigned.

Vehicle with Transponder

If a vehicle had previously been issued a transponder and the application indicated it was on the vehicle, a new one will not be issued. Once payment for the User Fee has been received, the expiration date on the transponder will be extended to the end of the calendar year for which the User Fee was paid.

If the renewal fee is not paid, the transponder will continue to transmit information at the port. However, a per-crossing fee will be charged.