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bonnyprincecharlie May 13th, 2013 08:23 AM

Booze customs declaration insight...
You learn so much at the dinner table You read about bootleggers bottles to get booze onto the ship, but how about getting booze off the ship.. The best one I heard on a recent cruise was the story of a cruiser who got two extra bottles of booze through customs without paying duty. This genetleman told the story about a series of cruises he made. He had a favorite booze that he would buy in port. According to the story he would buy four bottles of booze two bottles more than the allowance. (Don't quote me on exact customs requlations concerning number of bottles he was telling the story.)
He declared the four bottles of booze on his customs form and on the first cruise he was passed by and the customs officer and no charge for the extra booze. The second cruise he did the same thing and again he was passed by the customs officer with no customs charge for the extra booze. Finally, on the third cruise, this conscientious cruiser told the customs offcier that he wanted to pay duty on the booze. According to the cruiser the officer waved him off and said that collecting the fee would require too much paper work and passed him through with no extra charge for the booze. No guarantees but I thought this would be a good idea especially if you have a Christmas party and you're cruising in July you might want to stock up on booze, like one Cleveland business owner I know did. I don't think he knew about this loophole but he did get cheap booze for the party and since he was traveling with his mother he may have really really made out on her customs declaration.

Donna May 13th, 2013 08:52 AM

Interesting, who knew?? I always thought it would be too much a hassle to bring booze back...

Mike M May 13th, 2013 09:36 AM

Each time I have declared my overage on liquor, cigarettes, jewelry or watches I have been just waived through and have never paid duty.

Granted the last time I lugged home booze, jewelry or a watch was around five years ago. However, I have went over on the evil cigarettes as late as January and was just waived through.

This is a good thread for first time cruisers. If you have to pay the duty you won't go broke. Remember, you only pay the "Federal" tax on the product and not the state tax.

If you're lucky you will be waived through. If you have to pay, you won't go broke unless you have cases of liquor or tobacco. You are always better off being honest than having the overage discovered and having to go through the hassle and payments associated with not telling them.

Take care,

Dave Beers May 13th, 2013 10:01 AM

Yeah, what is the duty, 10%? I think only the most zealous officer is going to want to spend the time to collect $2 or $3 because someone is a couple bottles heavy.

On my back-to-back cruises last December I wondered about the same issues in the OP. On our turnaround day Customs didn't take our declarations. They barely looked at anything other than our 'in transit' cards and waived us through. Technically if I bought nothing on the first cruise but double my limit on the second, I would be violating the law. But how would Customs know when X was purchased? They wouldn't. Thus, it really was brought home to me that they use discretionary enforcement to the extreme on low-value duty items. May 13th, 2013 01:31 PM

When we came back from Tahiti, I declared the black pearl earrings I bought for my wife as a 40th wedding anniversary present, which weren't cheap, and was really surprised, but thankful, when they just waived us through.


Paul Motter May 13th, 2013 06:37 PM

Great story - I never thought about it.

Here is a complete list of what is allowed:

Prohibited and Restricted Items -

Paul Motter May 13th, 2013 06:41 PM

Yeah - Dave - I do believe that if you take a controlled item out of the US you will be subject to duty again (unless maybe if you have receipts).

I say this because I once saw a guy trying to sneak a bottle of Tequila on a ship, and he told the security guy, "WE were just in Mexico and we bought it there, we didn't think about the rules for what you can take on a cruise."

Didn't matter - the security guy took it anyway.

Phil&Liz May 13th, 2013 06:51 PM

Being my first cruise, on Renaisance III in Tahiti, it didn't even occur to me to declare the handful of loose pearls I bought there.

It was years later before I had them made into jewelry.

Dave Beers May 13th, 2013 07:12 PM

Here is a little item that may surprise some:

Rolex has the trademark rights to their watches and this extends to their exclusive rights as importer into the U.S. This was done to try and reduce the counterfeit market. According to Customs, each person is allowed to 'hand carry' one Rolex watch into the country legally. If you have two or more, the others can be confiscated. Now, my understanding is they mean a watch you purchased outside the U.S. But how to prove it if you happen to have more than one Rolex with you when you board the ship, and you actually bought them in the U.S.? I used to carry two of my Rolex watches with me on cruises - one for formal wear and one for casual - but I stopped doing so a couple years ago when I learned of this 'rule'. I don't have the sales receipts and am not going to start carrying proof of purchase around for valuable objects.

Donna May 13th, 2013 09:29 PM

Hi DAve,
I have heard of this, but never heard any issues or stories about it. I guess, not many would purchase more than one Rolex while cruising??

Dave Beers May 13th, 2013 10:03 PM

I'd guess the typical purchaser would only get one watch, but perhaps a couple might buy two - his and hers. But then they'd still be legal.

I'm done buying Rolex watches. I have enough to satisfy me. Actually they are a bit of a pain to maintain and as one might expect the repair costs are ridiculous. It's like owning a Porsche and dreading the routine oil change.

green_rd May 14th, 2013 08:24 AM

Original P&L,

I know they promote that there is no customs limit to loose stones as they are properly "minerals." Doubt many customs officials care that pearls are harvested rather than mined.

Phil&Liz May 15th, 2013 07:46 PM


Originally Posted by green_rd (Post 1473056)
Original P&L,

I know they promote that there is no customs limit to loose stones as they are properly "minerals." Doubt many customs officials care that pearls are harvested rather than mined.

Interesting thing I learned about them....they actually start in the Mississippi River, then are moved to Tahiti to finish growing.

I guess with the bigger ships = 3500+ pax, its not surprising the CBP just lets the masses keep moving, with maybe the occassional pothead looking smuggler getting hassled.

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