What do you have to declare at Customs?

This article will deal with several types of Customs declarations that you may need to make to Customs.

Traditional Commercial Imports

Most countries will require for all commercial imports to be reported to Customs authorities. In addition to declaring the nature of the product to Customs, traders can also be expected to declare value, quantity, weight, HS code and country of origin. Traders will have to identify an importer of record (usually themselves of the legal entity they belong to). This requirement is applicable to goods coming in by all modes of transport. Import declarations made to Customs authorities must be taken very seriously and any false information presented on these documents can lead to penalties and fines.

Commercial Sample Imports

In most countries, you need to declare imports of commercial samples even if they are not going to be sold in the country. This would also apply to demonstration sets. It is important to note that this also means that any licensing requirements for these products have to be met. This requirement also exists even if you hand carry the commercial samples in your luggage.

Hand Carry Imports of Commercial Samples

Importers or travelers who hand carry commercial shipments will also have to make a declaration to Customs. Failure to declare such imports can result in penalties and fines. In some cases the products may be confiscated by the authorities at least until the investigation is completed. It is highly advisable enlist the help of a freight forwarder to prepare the import permit before getting on the plane. It is not advisable to intentionally attempt to use the Red Lane for Customs to make a declaration to Customs. This will almost always result in long delays in any country. When hard carrying samples, you should make yourself familiar with Customs clearance processes. In most cases, you will need to find your way to the Customs office in order to present the permit and the goods you intend to import. At this time, you should already have an approved import permit with you.

Imports from vacation

Individuals who are returning from overseas are usually entitled to duty free imports of products below a certain threshold value. This applies in almost all countries. However, some countries also enforce varying volume or quantity thresholds for certain products like alcohol, tobacco products, precious metals and perfumes. Some countries have no duty free allowance for certain products like tobacco. In some countries, any imports of products containing plant or animal content must also be declared regardless of the quantity being imported. In almost all countries, hand carrying large amounts of cash also needs to be declared to Customs. In most cases, reasonable amounts of purchases for personal consumption do not need to be declared to Customs.

Be aware that some countries do not allow import of medication unless a valid doctor’s prescription can be presented.

A final note

Failure to make declarations to Customs is a serious offence and attracts heavy penalties in many countries. When bringing in any items of a commercial nature or use it is best to check with authorities in advance before embarking on the trip. Care should be taken when importing personal work items such as coveralls, boots and/or electrical testing equipment. Every country has its own set of rules and laws unique to their concerns and Customs administration. Attempting to guess at requirement using “common sense” is not the best way to ensure compliance – it is always a good idea to spend sometime researching regulations online, or to reach out to the authorities for guidance.

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