Posted By: Anonymous

Customs - 11/25/05 06:17 PM

I wonder whether other people importing goods for business have the same experiences that I do. I recently brought in a shipment from Miami, made up of goods from several suppliers in different parts of the US. In all cases the suppliers did not charge separately for shipment of their goods to Miami; in one case the goods were discounted (which is why I bought them) and shown as such on the invoice; in one case some items were listed separately with no cost shown (they formed part of another item that was priced); and in one case some items were given free as an incentive according to the size of the order, and again accurately described on the invoice.

Belize Customs have decided to impute delivery charges within the US as an additional 10%-15% of the value of the entire order. They have also decided to invent values for all items not shown as having a specific value.

The result is a total dutiable amount that is some 25% higher than I have actually paid. And it seems there is absolutely nothing I can do about it - pay up or have the goods confiscated.

Any comments?
Posted By: ckocian

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 06:57 PM

No comments of consolation but Belize is so broke it's looking for any and every way to lay hands on cash. GOB scraped money together to make a debt service payment of some size not too long ago and that's probably what they have to continue to do. Fees, fines, duties are a good source.
Posted By: lovey and thurston

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 07:28 PM

Pedro, Have experieced exactly the same things you mentioned. My husband had shipped 10 boxes of donated medical supplies from the hospital. When they arrived at customs(and it was specified that the items were for the Polyclinic) they still charged over $600. When we tried to tell them the items were donated were told if we continued to protest they'd set it higher!
Posted By: ScubaSnack

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 08:35 PM

How about this...

I brought in and donated about 150 lbs of supplies for the village public school. Pens, pencils and spiral notebooks.

Customs was not impressed. Paid the duties. Go figure.
Posted By: lovey and thurston

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:05 PM

Hope it doesn't effect donations. Since we have to pay the shipping costs and they are usually big items like exam tables , or lights etc. it can get pretty expensive.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:14 PM

"A donation is a gift to a fund or cause, usually for charitable reasons."

I guess you will have to stop "doing it"

I said that to remind you that you are in theory, in the act of giving. Otherwise you are not. ?
Giving is great. give something else instead then. IN fact Give belize a brand new one, just like yours at home.. Now that would be truly giving ...
Posted By: ambergrishog

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:15 PM

This is truly unfortunate. With the severe increase in media covered crime and scuba accidents coupled with the over zealousness of Customs Officials, Belize is getting a tremendous black-eye with the media and traveling public. Belize has so many positive things to offer, it is a travesty that the PR is so negative. And so it goes. Maybe it will just make it less crowded for those of us who "Belize It" Sad.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:29 PM

Does anyone have a clue what Pohn Jane is saying, or is it me? frown
Posted By: lovey and thurston

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:40 PM

I believe he is telling me I am not giving in the right spirit. Twenty lashes for moi!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:41 PM

Either you are "giving" or you are letting loose of your "extra"
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:53 PM

John, you are offending the folks who are trying to outfit our new hospital. Bad form!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 09:57 PM

Why should they be offended?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 10:13 PM

Lets look at it a different way. Can't someone from the hospital claim what you are bringing as long as they are there when the goods are declared ? I would think so. The duty then becomes the responsibility of the hospital to pay.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 10:15 PM

Do you know a Dr. Stewart ? I would guess you might , since he lives close by you. But he is maybe older than you .
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 10:24 PM

Who is this addressed to? And who is Dr. Stewart? Where? And what has this to do with the subject?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 10:28 PM

I was asking thurston. However , do you not believe the "goods" could be claimed by the hospital as they are declared ? I believe they can be.It would likely make the duty less. But nothing is sure.
Posted By: lovey and thurston

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 10:57 PM

No, Not familiar with a Dr. Stewart. This situation happened with our last shipment, think we now have a way to do further shipments in the future. You're quite insightful. Lovey
Posted By: Sun&sand

Re: Customs - 11/25/05 11:31 PM I'm concerned about bringing in things for SAGA. Am I going to be asked to pay additional duties on these things? I'll go a little bit, but they are dontated and don't have an actual cost. If Customs wants to place an outrageous dollar amount on these items, they can keep them. Then what will they do with them? Hopefully, eventually these things will reach their destination.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Customs - 11/26/05 12:17 AM

Anyone out there know anyone in Customs (with influence) we can go to for an official position?
Posted By: ckocian

Re: Customs - 11/26/05 12:46 AM

I believe the trick is to impute costs, when they don't exist because something is free (shipping cost was not charged in the purchase transaction so is not part of the value) or items not paid for are brought in to give to Belizean recipients as a donation. It's another expediency to further the goal of getting hold of cash. Greenback dollah cash preferably. Theoretically you would be denying a Belize business of a sale of the goods and the GOB of the sales tax. Never mind that the items you're bringing in to donate are not now nor will they be in Belize retailers' inventory.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Customs - 11/26/05 02:57 PM

If anyone knows any US or other business that's in the practice of giving away its goods free, please tell me. Otherwise, what is shown on an invoice as having no charge, or isn't shown at all, is not free but its cost is covered by the other items. Some years ago there was an English learned judge who, in refusing a claim by the UK equivalent of the IRS to impose a tax on somebody, said "Income Tax is, as I understand it, a tax on income, so first the (IRS) has to establish that there was some income". How can Belizean Customs decide that an arms-length commercial transaction has been understated in value? (I can see, however distasteful it may sometimes appear, how they can impute values in transactions that are not strictly commercial, such as a charitable donation).
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Customs - 11/26/05 03:38 PM

The invoice needs to specifically state that the freight costs to the port are included. If not, Customs will assume that there was a separate charge.
Posted By: Phil

Re: Customs - 11/28/05 04:20 PM

There is a big difference between freight shipping goods and bringing them in yourselves through an International Gateway, such as Intl Airport. Bringing things for schools and charities is not uncommon and the airport customs are pretty good, and fair, as long as you are up front and honest with them and have a plausible story.

When goods are freight shipped you need to use a customs broker to clear goods through customs and this is when you absolutely have to have clear invoicing that's in good order and have any relevant import permits in place. Leave any room for error and it will result in just that - you tend to learn fairly quickly and it's an ongoing process. Try to ensure your suppliers are diligent with their paperwork, get a good customs broker, build a relationship and stick with them through thick and thin - not easy to do if you are a casual shipper, so to speak. I also believe it's standard to pay Duty on the freight shipping costs to Belize - which I've never quite understood, but who says you should?

Customs will also use the internet to find retail pricing of goods and it can be very difficult to explain you bought things wholesale, or worse there was a special wholesale deal or you buy x and get y free. It's difficult for both sides too remember - I am sure some do try and cheat.
Posted By: catdog

Re: Customs - 12/11/05 02:33 PM

Any suggestions or recommendations for a good customs broker in Belize?
Posted By: reaper

Re: Customs - 12/11/05 05:41 PM

Customs and Excise Department's Senior Examiner... Mr. Henry Marsden. [email protected] He's in charge at Phillip Goldson Intl. Airpot. Also the website is for info on bringing in goods.
Posted By: ambergrishog

Re: Customs - 12/15/05 01:00 AM

On the other hand...just got back from Belize. Brought in 2 large Rubbermaid containers of household goods for a condo on AC. Declared goods with a value of $500. The customs agent looked through both containers and charged no duty. Go figure. The only thing that is consistent is the inconsistency. Thats why I love it.
Posted By: ambergrishog

Re: Customs - 12/15/05 01:56 AM

Sorry if my message was unclear. Brought back a bottle of One Barrel from Belize to Austin and am enjoying the fruits of my labor. My new drink of choice. The containers I was referring to were brought in from the US to Belize. Customs agent was very nice.
Posted By: WhiteWater

Re: Customs - 12/15/05 04:01 PM

Yep, we had the same experience at the airport. We told them about everything we had and were shocked at how little they charged us. But as CasaC said, it's probably very different with freight shipments.
Posted By: Loansum-Al K

Re: Customs - 12/15/05 05:30 PM

IMHO, Customs at the airport are looking for spendy items like TVs, etc. We brought down housewares for our new condo and declared them.......the customs agent laughed and sent us on our way. I shaked his hand and said I was told when it comes down to declaring to customs that "honesty was the best policy". He smiled and said you're absolutely right! You have a better chance of walking away without paying duty and some items IF you're up front and declare them.......try to hide them and you're headed for deep sh_t!
Posted By: lasergod

Re: Customs - 12/15/05 06:08 PM

When we came down we brought a suitcase (60lb)full of crayons, notebooks, books & toys for the library.
When I asked earlier on the board I was told not to list them. When we went through customs they didn't even ask or check our bags.
Posted By: Sun&sand

Re: Customs - 12/20/05 04:14 PM

Good, I feel a little bit easier about bringing stuff. I will bring it in with me and declare it in customs. Hopefully it will all work out. Can't wait to get there....six more weeks!!
Posted By: Phil

Re: Customs - 12/20/05 05:28 PM

catdog - Customs Broker we use is George Bradley Phone in Bz. City 227 0717
Posted By: catdog

Re: Customs - 12/21/05 08:31 PM

Thanks, Casa, for the broker and number. I never heard nor considered there would be duty to be paid on the freight!

Re: Customs - 12/21/05 11:13 PM

We had a similar experience as Ambergrishog and lasergod.

We sent a group down, each carrying extra suitcases with donated goods and the customs agent just smiled at them and nodded them through. I wasn't there so not sure what they told them. I'm coming for my first time soon. Don't know what will happen then.
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