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Bermuda Customs Duties
We have been to Bermuda many times as visitors and also know of many expatriates who have been living in Bermuda on work permits. When it comes to customs clearances at Bermuda International Airport or at the cruise ports, unless you are well prepared with all the required documentation and understand duties applicable for different items you bring in to the island, you can be in for a shock. Remember, in an isolated island like Bermuda where sources of government earnings are limited, customs duty plays a significant role of contributing to government revenues.
Both visitors and islanders get Duty Free Allowances while entering the island. This allowance is a limit up to which duties are not charged on items you bring in. Custom duties are charged when the quantity or value of an item exceeds this limit. The allowances and the duties vary depending on the item while some items are free of duty.
I have noticed that Bermuda Customs officers are not too strict or rigid. If you make a slight or acceptable variation, they usually give it a blind eye and let you go without making you pay for extra duty. However if you exceed the limit too much then be prepared to pay full duty for all your excess. And this not only means extra cost, but spending a lot of extra time at the airport as the officers check all your items and assess their value.
Everyone arriving in Bermuda (a visitor, returning resident or a foreigner on job) needs to complete a Customs Traveler Declaration form (Customs Form 98-p). You must declare all goods you are bringing in including gifts. Duty is payable on all imported goods which exceed the limit of duty free allowance or are not covered under the allowance.
Allowance & Duties for Visitors & Tourists (Update: Rates effective May 1, 2014)
Duty free allowances for visitors include 1 liter of wine, 1 liter of spirits, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 500 grams of tobacco. Beer attracts a duty of $0.99 per liter. Spirits (like whisky, rum, vodka, gin, Liqueurs etc) beyond the duty free allowances will attract duty of $10.63 per liter, wine/champagne $2.89 per liter, and cigarettes $44 per carton of 200. As a visitor, you can bring a duty free gift for someone in Bermuda for a value of up to $50. You can bring your personal medication with you without paying any duty. However, it is a good practice to carry your doctors prescription which should clearly show your name and the dosage.
You are allowed to bring items of your personal use like cell phone, iPod, golf clubs, camera, laptops, used clothes, reading material, prescription drugs, software, corrective spectacle etc, and not pay duty on them. However if you bring consumable items like food, most of that will be subject to duty (i.e. customs tariff). The rate of duty is a percentage of the item's assessed value and depends on the type of item.
There are some exceptions though. Duty free food items include breakfast cereals, bulgur wheat, malt, potato flour & flakes, prepared foods for infant use (including formula), rice, normal sugar, wheat & cereal flours, milk & cream etc and there is no duty on these. However some milk products like spreads, cheese, yogurt, and curd attract 5% customs duty, and so does honey.
Meat (beef, pork, lamb, chicken & other poultry products - fresh, prepared, chilled or frozen), fish (fresh, prepared, chilled, frozen, dried or salted), eggs (preserved or boiled), sausages, edible oil attract 5% duty. For meat, the allowable maximum limit is 50 pounds per person which is all dutiable and can be brought for personal consumption only. Seafood like crab, lobsters, shrimps, prawns, scallops, mussels (fresh or chilled) attract higher duty of 10%.
Duty of most vegetables, fruits (including juices) and nuts, as well as tea & coffee is 5%. Sauces like tomato ketchup, mustard sauce, Soya sauce etc attract a high 15% duty.
All electronic & household goods (that are not for personal use and to be left behind in Bermuda) are dutiable at the rate of 25% (some items like batteries, vehicle parts have a duty of 33.5%). Most other items have a duty of 22.25%.
If you plan to bring your pet with you, check out Importing Pets to Bermuda.
If you are coming to Bermuda to get married, you can bring all goods for Bermuda Weddings like party favors, wedding dress, wedding rings, wedding gifts etc free of duty. However, they should all be exported out of Bermuda at the end of the visit. Anything that remains in Bermuda, will attract a duty of 25%.
Allowance & Duties for Immigrants & Returning Residents (Update: Rates effective May 1, 2014)
Immigrants are those who are coming to Bermuda on Work Permit and intending to stay in the island for an extended period of time (like several months or years). Returning residents are those who are Bermuda nationals but had been to an overseas country for 6 months or more for work, study or treatment and are now returning to Bermuda.
The duty free allowance includes 1 liter of wine, 1 liter of spirits, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 500 grams of tobacco, and other goods up to a value of $200 per person.
If you are bringing used personal goods such as clothing, shoes, books, accessories etc which are for your personal use only, they are duty free. This is known as Transfer of Residence Allowance (TRA). Used stuff technically means items that are in use for 6 months or more. But it can be somewhat flexible.
However new items may attract duty beyond the duty free allowances and applicable duty depends on the items. For example, import duty rate on new clothing, jewelry, precious or semi precious stones, leather goods like handbags, clothing etc is 6.5%, camera, lens, antiques etc 8.5%, most perfumes 10%, make up items 22.25%, footwear, watches 10%, toys, games and sports items (including parts) attract a duty of 22.25%. While ceramic tableware and kitchen wares are duty free, ornamental ceramics attract a duty of 6.5%, while heavy ceramics is 22.25%.
Small ornamental or decorative glass wares attract 6.5% duty while most other heavy glass ware items have a duty of 22.25%. Printed books & brochures, software etc are free of duty in general. Original artwork 8.5%, food products including dietary supplements 15%, spirits $10.63 per liter, wine/champagne $2.89 per liter, cigarettes $44 per carton of 200, smoking tobacco, cigars, cheroots etc 33.5%, batteries, generators, vehicle parts and air conditioners 33.5%. Most other items attract a duty of 22.25%.
For all new items, you should carry the bills, otherwise the tax would be applied on an assessed value which may be more than your actual buying price.
Update May 2014: 1.25% wharfage fee for clearance through airport and seaports has been removed.
Contact Details of Bermuda Customs
Custom House, 40 Front Street, Hamilton HM 12, Bermuda
Phone: (441) 295-4816, Email: email@example.com
Tariff Classification Officer:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (441) 278-7422 or 278-7423
Email: email@example.com, Phone: (441) 278-7422 or 278-7423
Yacht Reporting Center:
5) Check out Bermuda Travel Guide for lot more information about Bermuda.
By Raj Bhattacharya
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