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.
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 20 pounds per person which is all dutiable and can be brought for personal consumption only. However with a meat inspection certificate, you can bring more amount of meat. 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.
Import of some dairy products like raw milk, pasteurized milk, ultra-pasteurized milk, ultra heat treated milk and manufactured milk are prohibited unless you take prior approval from ministry of agriculture of Bermuda.
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 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%.
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). Even pets qualify in TRA. However items like vehicles, motor bikes, private yachts etc do not qualify for TRA and you will need to pay full duty on them. Used stuff technically means items that are in use for 6 months or more. But it can be somewhat flexible. You should carry invoices (bills) as evidence of date of purchase. If you are shipping the materials by air or ocean cargo, then you should apply for the TRA within 3 days of importation, otherwise on your arrival in Bermuda.
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 (invoices) or receipts of purchase, 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.
While all efforts are made to keep the information up to date, you should check with Bermuda Customs & Immigration Departments for any latest updates and changes.
Contact Details of Bermuda Customs
Custom House, 40 Front Street, Hamilton HM 12, Bermuda
Phone: (441) 295-4816, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tariff Classification Officer:
Email: email@example.com, Phone: (441) 278-7422 or 278-7423
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (441) 278-7422 or 278-7423
Can I bring fresh nuts like cashews and coconut water to Bermuda?
Raj (November 2015) bermuda-attractions.com
You can bring, but cashew nuts and coconuts (fresh or dried) will attract a duty of 5%. It is another matter that Customs Officers are usually lenient if you bring small quantities and let you go without paying any duty.
Karen Schellinck (July 2015)
Hi Raj, Great info, thank you. Quick question...may I bring in live or cooked lobster from Canada? Thanks!
Raj (July 2015) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, You can bring in fresh or frozen lobsters and pay 10% duty on your buying price (carry the bill).
Ralph J Miller (May 2015)
Good Day Raj, If I brought in a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly for snacking would there be an tariff on them? If I brought in my protein powder and energy bars, made necessary due to a recent surgery, would they be subject to the import tariff? Thank you for your help,
Raj (May 2015) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, fruit jams, jelly, marmalade, nut puree (peanut butter) etc would attract duty of 5%, Protein etc 15%. However if you bring something which is part of your prescribed medication, then carry the doctor's prescription and that should not attract any duty.
John Waters (February 2015)
My wife and I have lived in Bermuda for many years but last year bought the accommodation we had been renting and obtained a Residents Permit. We have owned a property in the UK for 15 years and now wish to bring in some rugs and other small items from that UK property to our newly acquired property in Bermuda. Some of the rugs are very good silk quality and are very expensive. We have owned them for several years but the nature of their current use as well as the quality makes them look brand new, albeit we can prove the purchase date. Will we have to pay duty, and how much on rugs? Thank you and kind regards
Raj (February 2015) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, Usually importing new rugs, blankets, bed linens or carpets would attract a duty of 22.25%. However in your case you should be eligible for TRA (Transfer of Residence Allowance) where you can bring in used personal belongings free of duty except for few items like vehicles etc. You should carry the invoices as evidence that the materials have been in use for at least 6 months.
Leslie (January 2015)
I am visiting Bermuda soon and am gluten intolerant. I would like to know if duty would be charged on gluten free foods (packaged items) that I require as part of my diet.
Raj (January 2015) bermuda-attractions.com
Duty will depend on what food you bring in (i.e. cereals, meat, vegetables, rice etc). There is no specific customs guidelines on gluten free products.
Mairi Anderson (July 2014)
Hi. We are visiting friends in Bermuda, & wish to bring some Scottish smoked salmon ( vacuum sealed)as a gift for our hosts. Is this allowed & if so, would we have to pay duty? Thanks!
Raj (July 2014) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, You can bring in smoked salmon to Bermuda, however the customs clearance can get delayed. 5% duty is applicable.
McGough (June 2013)
Can I bring into Bermuda from the US fresh fruits and vegetables in small quantities?
Raj (June 2013) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, Fruits and vegetables attract 5% customs duty. But if you bring in small quantities, then they might let you go without paying duty. However, it's always a good idea to carry your food bills so that Bermuda customs can calculate the duty on purchase price. Otherwise they may use their own assessed value and charge the duty.
Betty Hoyt (March 2013)
When travelling, we like to take along a few snacks and our favourite cereal. Is it permissible to bring through Bermuda Customs a box of breakfast cereal, a package of granola bars, a package of nuts, a few candy bars? Thanks
Raj (March 2013) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, You can bring all the items you mentioned through Bermuda Customs, but some would attract duties. Breakfast cereals are duty free in general. But fruits & nuts have a duty of 5% on the assessed value. So carry your bills to show the purchase price. I see no problems with candy bars etc if brought in limited quantity.
Doreen Cotter (February 2013)
Thank you for the fantastic knowledgeable website. We will be visiting in March and were thinking of bringing in our baggage, (A) wine (a quantity after the 1 liter duty free allowance/person). On your "Bermuda Customs Duties" it reads, "and wine/champagne $2.63 per liter"- Is this $2.63/liter applicable regardless of the make of the wine-I am confused-In the Bermuda Customs Regulations it is stated that the duty for wine (in excess of the duty free allowance of 1 liter), is 25% of the value. How does one arrive at "the assessed value". We would be bringing this wine purchased in Canada? Thanks for letting us know about the new Arrivals Duty Free Store (B) Re meat: "attracts 5% duty". I am not sure if that would be 5% of what the total charge we paid for the meat when purchased here in Canada or do we have to convert that cost to Bermuda currency or again, how does one arrive at the "assessed value". I am trying to decide whether or not it is worthwhile bringing the wine or the meat in our luggage. Thanks for your help. much appreciated.
Raj (February 2013) bermuda-attractions.com
Hello, The duty rate for wine (as published by Bermuda Customs effective April 2012) over & above the duty free allowance is $2.63 per Liter. It seems to be uniformly applicable for all makes. I do not know which customs regulations document says 25% duty for wine... it might be a dated one. 25% duty rate is applicable for other items like clothes, jewelry etc.
You should carry your purchase bill which is normally used as the assessed value. They will use current currency conversion ratios to convert to Bermuda Dollar (same as US dollar) while computing the rates. If you don't have the bills, they will use some standard chart to get to an assessed value which can be often inflated. Again for meat, the process is same with applicable duty of 5%. Carry your bill or they will use some standard rates. Unless there is real need, I would not carry items excess of the duty free allowances. Virtually everything is available in Bermuda, although it would be a bit pricey. Regards,
Narmeen Navrozally (February 2013)
Hi, I will be shifting to Bermuda in the next 2 months. I was reading through the Custom Regulations and claiming of TRA (Transfer of Residence Allowance). Is it necessary to have receipts to prove that your belongings are 6 months old or more? I am relocating on a standard work permit and have all my belongings including clothes and home items mostly but since I purchased them a longtime back, I may not have any receipts for the same. Also, in case I buy a few new things, is partial TRA claimable?
Raj (February 2013) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, if you are bringing used stuff for your personal use while on work permit (like clothes, books, accessories etc), they are not dutiable. Although the regulation is not quite clear on how to assess an item if used or not, as far as possible bring receipts to be safe. The questions may arise only when the items look brand new. Otherwise I would assume they would be flexible. If you bring any new stuff, declare that separately and do get your receipts. Most of such items will attract duties.
Robin (January 2013)
We are coming to Bermuda and would like to bring a small gift as a thank you to the owner where we will be staying at... What would be a proper gift. And are the people of Bermuda really "friendly". I want to go to a country where saying hello and goodnight , thank you is not looked down on because we are Americans
Raj (January 2013) bermuda-attractions.com
Hi, Bermudians are in general very friendly. You can bring in any gift that you may think appropriate, like a small souvenir or so of your own country, and a Bermudian would appreciate that. However note that gift items that you plan to bring for an islander would be duty free for a value of up to $30. Beyond that, duty will be charged by Bermuda Customs Department. The rate of such duty may vary depending on the item and can be as high as 25% of the estimated purchase price. Regards,