Passing Through Customs is Easy in the Caribbean
By Jennifer Smith
With so many souvenirs to bring home, it's no wonder Caribbean travelers are often curious about passing through customs. The question many travelers ask is how to bring these purchased items back into their home country. With a little knowledge, and the right paperwork, passing through customs can be easier than you think.
Each Caribbean island is different, so you'll find plenty of variations in the laws you'll find throughout the region. Each island will also have its own popular native goods as well. Knowing which items are permitted to be brought out of the country and which are not will protect you from additional fees or lost goods.
When leaving home to enter the Caribbean, some travelers choose to document their prior possessions - particularly big-ticket items like laptops - registering them with a Certificate of Registration or similar form available through a home customs office. Make a note of serial numbers and other permanent markings on such forms to keep customs agents from being concerned about your personal items.
If you are in need of prescription medication, bring your doctor's prescription with you while you travel. This will help ensure an easy stop through customs, and can also help if you accidentally lose your medication during your trip. Please remember that the many so-called "recreational drugs are generally illegal throughout the Caribbean as well, and traveling with them is not permitted.
Going through customs on the way home can be taxing, but remembering to bring important items, such as receipts, can be a big help. Whenever you receive receipts for souvenir purchases, keep them. This paperwork can make the customs process simpler if any questions come up about purchases you've made.
Native goods that are popular for travelers to take home may include perishables, such as cigars, liquor, and coffee. Hot sauces are also popular on some islands, and the quantity of these goods you may bring home is usually limited by your home country.
However, total goods are usually limited by a monetary amount, after which point they may be taxed. So if you're looking to pick up duty-free goods, be especially careful of the upper limits allowed back into your country. When returning home, U.S. citizens should plan to bring along no more than $800(USD) in merchandise from most Caribbean countries. American vacationers returning to the mainland from the U.S. Virgin Islands, however, may bring in twice that amount of goods.
Remember, you can often mail souvenirs and other items home, or you may even mail your own personal items that you won't need immediately when you return, which can help you save space when packing.
So if you're looking for sure-fire ways to pass easily through customs, know the rules before you go. Don't forget to bring and keep any paperwork that will account for your belongings during your journey. With these rules in mind, passing through customs from the Caribbean should be a breeze.
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