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What do duty free limits on “general goods” actually apply to?

What do duty free limits on “general goods” actually apply to?

Old Oct 23, 18, 5:58 pm
  #1  
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What do duty free limits on “general goods” actually apply to?

Hi everyone,

I have some questions that have been driving me up the wall lately, in that I’m not sure I properly understand duty free allowances.

A hypothetical example would be this:
- I’m from New Zealand and I fly to Korea for a 3 week holiday.
- Personal belongings I would bring would include: an iPhone, laptop, wristwatch, camera, wedding ring and of course my clothes! Which I intend to return to New Zealand with.
- The Korean arrival card asks “are you carrying any goods acquired overseas....that exceed duty free allowance”
- I turn the card around and see that the duty free allowance for “goods for personal use” is “less than $400 usd”

Now I assume I would have to tick that box because everything I’m bringing with me comes from overseas!
Seeing as that allowance is so low, even though I’m only carrying the basics would I then be charged duty for my own belongings including the shoes on my feet? Surely that can’t be correct can it?

I used Korea as an example because their info seems pretty clear cut with no exceptions listed. And it seems the allowances for general goods is similarly low in all other countries.

I’ve been reading and getting the impression that what they actually mean in most of these cases is that they’re asking about items that will end up staying in that country (e.g as a gift or being sold). But that seems implied and is not otherwise explicitly stated

When looking online elsewhere I tend to see that the instructions refer to people who are returning to their home country from a holiday which I can completely understand. But I’m just struggling with how customs work for countries that one visits while on holiday.

Seeing as travelling with a smartphone, laptop and wedding ring is not unusual at all, wouldn’t 99% of people travelling overseas have to be declaring their belongings at customs and paying a duty on them? I’m sure I’m wrong but having trouble proving it to myself.

If someone much smarter than I am could please explain this to me I’d be very grateful.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 9:40 am
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The declaration is on goods that you would plan to bring and leave in the country you are arriving into. So if you have over $400 USD of goods in NZ for friends in S. Korea you would have to declare them. The same when you return to NZ, if you have over $400 USD of goods from Korea you are bringing into NZ you would have declare them. Note it does not matter who pays for the good (or if they are a gift) it is the value. Also just because you have over $400 of goods no does not mean you will have to pay duty on then - it depends on the customs schedule. But the first $400 would not be assed duty the remainder would be. Liquor is a good example. The first two liters could be duty free but the others are not.
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Old Oct 28, 18, 3:01 am
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I know that the US Customs form asks visitors to declare the total value of goods that will remain in the US, and I thought that was pretty standard. I don't know how Korea's form is phrased exactly. However, remember that for used items, the market value is much less. A phone that you bought for $400 that is a year old may only have a market value of $200.
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Old Oct 28, 18, 3:44 am
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
I know that the US Customs form asks visitors to declare the total value of goods that will remain in the US, and I thought that was pretty standard. I don't know how Korea's form is phrased exactly. However, remember that for used items, the market value is much less. A phone that you bought for $400 that is a year old may only have a market value of $200.
Yes, funnily enough the US customs form is the only form I’ve seen that so clearly states that the value only refers to items that will remain in the country. Again I chose the Korean one more as a technical exercise because it was the most difficult one. In fact the sentence specifically starts with “are you carrying”.

I can give another example of the UK duty free allowance info page (I can’t post URL’s as a new member) which doesn’t seem to list any exceptions for personal possessions that you intend to bring back out.

So yes I do understand that “value of items to remain in the country” makes the most practical sense. But for a straight literal read of such things that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Another one I found was the Australian website states that personal goods are exempt if they have been owned for more than 12 months, otherwise they would have to be “imported temporarily (a security may be required by the Department)”. So this would make me think that if I purchased an expensive camera system and flew to Australia 6 months later for a holiday I would have to declare it and possibly pay a security deposit on it? And if I didn’t declare and got checked, I would get in trouble if randomly checked? Which seems awfully inconvenient to me!

Apologies, my OCD has turned this into a technical exercise for me to figure out, so im sorry if I’m being frustrating. Heck I’m thinking many wedding rings would exceed duty free limits, and I certainly don’t expect that every married woman with a moderately expensive wedding ring (or heck a newly married woman on a honeymoon in Australia for example!) would be going to declare their ring.
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Old Oct 29, 18, 3:39 am
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It's talking about goods that will be "consumed" (ie. used and/or left) in the destination country. Goods that are (in official terms) re-exported aren't dutible. You declare nothing that will be coming into and leaving the country with you.

How on earth would they know that something was purchased within 12 months unless you told them? Stop over thinking it. They don't know and you aren't silly enough to tell them and create pointless work for everyone. Yes?
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Old Nov 1, 18, 8:23 am
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Originally Posted by JamesBigglesworth View Post
How on earth would they know that something was purchased within 12 months unless you told them? Stop over thinking it. They don't know and you aren't silly enough to tell them and create pointless work for everyone. Yes?
It might be possible to deduce that the item is less than year old, if it only has been on the market for less than 12 months. But I would assume that the common sense still prevails when interpreting the import regulations even if the item is identified as a fancy new model and there is no clear indication that this item is intended to be delivered to somebody else.
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