Cutting Through Customs Red Tape

Vacationers who enjoy shopping during their Caribbean travels will find plenty to buy, no matter which island they plan to visit. However, one 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 swiftly through customs does not have to be difficult.

Knowing which items are permitted and which are not will protect you from additional fees or lost goods. Because each Caribbean island is different, you will find variations in the laws that protect items going into and out of countries. Each island will also have its own popular native goods.

Leaving Home.When leaving home to enter the Caribbean, some travelers document their prior possessions, registering them with a Certificate of Registration or similar form available through your 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 taking any type of prescription medication, bring your doctor's prescription with you while you travel.

This will help ensure an easy, no-questions-asked trip through customs and can also help if you accidentally lose your medication during your trip. However, remember that the many so-called "recreational" drugs are often illegal throughout the Caribbean as well, and traveling with them is not permitted.Return Ticket.Going through customs on the way home can be equally taxing, so you may want to remember to bring important items, such as receipts. Whenever you receive receipts for souvenir purchases, keep them. They can be especially helpful when passing through customs.

Native goods 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, goods are mostly 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 the 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 may bring in twice the 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 for 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.


Jennifer Smith writes for,, and other Segisys travel Web sites.

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By: J. Smith

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