Customs on Purchases

Aug 20th, 2001, 04:44 AM
Colomba Bush
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Customs on Purchases

Hi all, this is a serious question. If I buy clothes in Europe and pay cash and take the tags off, wouldn't I be foolish to declare the purchases to customs? Am I missing something? How can they prove that I bought them on this trip? Thanks for your advice!
Aug 20th, 2001, 04:57 AM
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Your problem will be that customs does not have to proof anything. If it has French labels they can ask that you prove that you didn't buy it on this trip.
Aug 20th, 2001, 05:30 PM
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You might want to wear the clothes and make sure they need to be laundered- it will give them more of a "lived in" "I brought it from home " look.

But the post above is right-they CAN go thru your luggage-and make you pay duty--but for the most part, unless you are decked out in Channel,carrying a Prada handbag etc, the customs just ask what you purchased...DO NOT try to get all purchases thru duty--free...list some things--as it's quote inprobably that with our dollar so strong,everyone is PURCHASING something abroad...

I always list everything I buy , and the customs people even go out of their way to help you get under your quota...
They are not the ghouls people make them out to be....
Aug 20th, 2001, 06:11 PM
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Troll Alert!
Aug 20th, 2001, 08:32 PM
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I usually just walk, and do not declare anything. They just let me through. However, aaa is right sometimes is good to list some things because it looks weird that you went there and did not buy anything.
I do not carry a lot of bags with me, and I live in NY, I can get European designer clothes in NYC, so how are they going to prove I purchased somthing here or there, they cannot, unless they hold me there, and have me give them all my credit card statements (and I could have also paid in cash).

I think the more luggage they see you walking around with, the more likely they will ask you to open itand pay duty.
Even if I pay with a credit card, I usually do not have a problem.
I usually make sure that I wear the clothes I buy there at least once or twice so that they look worn and old.

However, if I am buying a lot, I just ship it from Europe to my home via UPS or FedEx, or just the regualr mail, depending where I am at.
Aug 21st, 2001, 09:25 AM
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bob has brought out a good point: if you have "foreign" goods (even a Nikon camera counts) on return to the U.S., Customs *can* charge duty, even if they're used, even if you bought them in the U.S. or somewhere else and already paid duty...UNLESS you carry proof. Example: Buy a Fuji camera in Japan and pay duty on it; next year, take it with you to Paris...unless you can show the sales receipt AND the duty paid, you could pay again.

It doesn't usually happen, don't get paranoid, but if you have expensive cameras, audio equipment, etc., it wouldn't hurt to carry proof you bought the items BEFORE your trip overseas.

Same with clothing; if you are wearing a sable coat to London, carry your receipt with you...

I declare everything; even when I'm over the $400 limit, I declare. So far, I've paid pennies in duty; sometimes, they just wave me through...

My theory: 10% of $800 is $80...if I can afford $1200 worth of stuff, I can afford the eighty bucks in duty. What I can't afford are the fine, and the terrifying ordeal of being caught by Customs, put in a room and questioned, humiliated, embarrassed, missing a flight or having the person who's picking me up have to wait....all for a stinkin' few dollars.
Aug 21st, 2001, 10:05 AM
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When I went through customs last May, the officer told me that the ONLY things you must declare are clothing (including jewelry and watches), perfume and liquor--that's it!!!! And this was after he put me through a few changes about my declaration, and then with a big smile, explained that I, in fact, owed nothing, because all of my purchases (paintings, flea market stuff)were duty-free.
Aug 21st, 2001, 03:13 PM
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For info on smuggling see

Or call 1-800-BE-ALERT with your tips on potential smugglers, past or present. You will remain anonymous and could receive a cash award for your information.
Aug 21st, 2001, 04:44 PM
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I don't understand above remark, you have to declare virtually anything you have bought abroad, unless you've had it and used it a long time. Try going to Japan and buying a laptap or other electronic equipment and not declaring it on return and see what happens. The customs site says so as does the card you fill out, it's not just for jewelry, clothes or perfume. Maybe that agent made a mistake; household effects (which may be what you bought at flea market) are duty free but only if you don't intend to sell them AND have used them yourself for at least one year. So if you lived over there a year or more, I think that would be true. Anyway, that's what the regulations say if you look at Treasury Dept website. I have declared many things other than clothes, jewelry, perfume and liquor and never once has the agent told me I didn't need to declare that piece of porcelain, book, CD, etc. (I buy lots of CDs and books abroad). I do think they don't have to "prove" anything, if there is reasonable suspicion (lots of newish clothes from foreign origin undeclared) the burden may be on you. The law specifically states you can be required to pay duty repeatedly on electronics if you don't carry receipts. (which again contradicts the guy saying you don't need to declare electronics)
Aug 22nd, 2001, 11:29 AM
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Several years ago, a friend's brother recently visited him in Chicago from the UK. At this time, the Chicago Bulls still had Jordan, and therefore, still won games. The brother proceeded to buy everything in sight with Chicago Bulls plastered on it, and then wore as much as he could on the plane, including his hideous Bulls leather jacket. He attempted to go through the "Nothing to Declare" line at Heathrow, but customs officials weren't having any of it. He got hit with hundreds of pounds in customs charges, and fines, because he tried to get away without paying.
Aug 22nd, 2001, 11:32 AM
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On one trip to England, all I had bought to bring back was a $5 pair of earings. I was a student at the time, going to see my boyfriend, and I barely had enough money to get to the airport, let alone buy anything. So I put down $5 on my customs form. Big mistake. The customs officials at Dulles refused believe that anyone would travel overseas and only bring back $5 worth of stuff. Of course, since I was telling the truth, there was nothing they could do to me, but they did delay me for about an hour.
Aug 22nd, 2001, 11:43 AM
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Please tell me WHY would Jeb's wife be asking such a question?

I cannot believe this a problem for you.
Don't bring BUSH down more than he is already, there are many Floridians on this site.
Aug 22nd, 2001, 11:49 AM
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well, she got caught the last time so maybe she's looking for tips on how not to get caught on her next trip.
Aug 22nd, 2001, 12:01 PM
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Yes, she failed to declare here Paris shopping spree. She told customs she didnt declare her purchases because she was afraid Hubby would find out she bought so many clothes and get mad at her!

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