How To Clear a Barrel in Jamaica (6 Easy Steps)

(post updated July 2022)

Clearing a barrel in Jamaica is a straightforward process now that the wharf has morphed into a modern facility that has everything under one roof. As long as you have your transportation, paperwork, and most importantly the cash to clear your items you should be in and out within a few hours enjoying all the goodies you packed.

I know you are thinking ‘the very thought of clearing a barrel fills me with dread’ which I’m guessing is because you’ve heard a story about someone who had a bad experience… right?!

I felt the same way prior to shipping my first barrel because I listened to all the complaints and stories of misery at the wharf and expected the worst. The actual experience was nowhere near as bad as what I had anticipated, and dare I say it, it was actually a pleasant one, all things considered!

How To Keep Your Cool When Clearing A Barrel In Jamaica

You may be sitting there now thinking ‘Really? It was a pleasant experience clearing a barrel at the wharf?!’

Let’s put this into perspective. I’m not saying it was as pleasant as spending time doing exciting things with loved ones or getting an unexpected windfall. But, it’s definitely better than having a tooth filled, or getting up on a Monday morning to go to work!

Not to get all up in my feelings, but….. I personally think in life we can choose to complain about everything, or we can take the situation at face value. Clearing a barrel, or any other type of cargo at the wharf, is a tedious process and one that involves exercising some patience to get through the steps required to get the reward at the end (your belongings!).

So just take it easy. Remember it’s not going to take more than a few hours of your life!

Expect to have to wait for your turn and bring something to occupy yourself whilst you are waiting if you are impatient, or get bored easily. Like some reading material or a phone (app), if you don’t want to watch whatever is showing on the TV in the waiting room.

You could even strike up a conversation with someone ~ Everyone at the wharf is going through the same thing as you and they are probably just as bored as you are!!

6 Easy Steps to Clear A Barrel in Jamaica (Kingston)

Clearing a barrel (or anything else for that matter) is super easy now that the wharf in Kingston, Jamaica has been fully upgraded and everything is under one roof. So although it may seem like a lot of steps to get through the clearing process it is straightforward and you should be driving away with your items in a few hours.

1: Collect Your Documents

Collect your Bill of Lading from your shipping agent, freight forwarder, or customs broker – the offices are usually within the vicinity of the wharf and will be listed on the paperwork you received when you shipped your barrel overseas.

You will usually be expected to pay a fee to the shipping agent when collecting the paperwork – check with your shipping agent how much that fee will be when you are informed the barrel is ready for clearing.

2: Proceed To The Kingport Building Or Kingport Warehouse Complex

Take your documents (Order or Bill of Lading) along with valid identification and TRN card to the Kingston Wharves Head Office at the Kingport Building (Third Street – Newport West) or the Kingport Warehouse Complex – KWC (47 Second Street – Newport West) to pay the handling and storage charges due. You will receive a customer service number.

If your cargo is located at our Berth 5 or Berth 6 Warehouses, KWL charges are to be paid at the Kingport Building; charges for cargo located at the Kingport Warehouse Complex can be paid upon arrival to KWC.

Any ONE of the following forms of identification is acceptable – National ID; Drivers’ License or Passport.) Please be reminded that there will be a security check at the entrance.

3: Proceed To Customs Manifest Office

Take all of your documents to the Customs Manifest office for document check and processing. At this point, the Customs Officer will match your documents against the information submitted to Jamaica Customs. Your documents will then be validated with a Customs Stamp if everything is in order.

If you requested an unaccompanied baggage clearance declaration (C27/Yellow form) form at the airport, this is now computerized and you will NOT be given a paper copy. When you get to the wharf, join the line for ‘the yellow form’ and the remaining allowance will automatically be deducted.

If you have a major amendment that cannot be handled by the Customs Officer or KWL Warehouse Supervisor, you will be directed by the Customs Officer regarding further assistance. Once completed, please return to the KWL Customer Service Desk with the amended documents.

4: Go To The Warehouse

There are three (3) possible warehouse locations where your cargo can be stored: KWC, Berth 5 or Berth 6. The specific location of your item/s should be printed on your documents. Go to the identified warehouse with your validated documents. Your documents will be reviewed.

Take a seat and listen for your customer service number and directions to the Customs Inspection Area.

5: Customs Inspection And Payment of Duty

Once in the warehouse, you will be asked to empty our barrel contents onto a large stainless steel table. A Customs Officer will inspect your items.  You will be expected to repack your barrel and go back to the waiting room for the customs office to write up your paperwork with the amount of duty you must pay.

Wait for your name to be called and collect your paperwork with the total to be paid to clear the items.

Proceed to the Customs Cashier and pay all duties. Please remember to collect the Customs Release from the Customs Cashier.

6: Collect Gate Pass, Collect Cargo, And Exit!

You must collect a gate pass at the Gate Pass Office in order for your transportation to gain access through the Main Gate.

Present your documents to the Security Officer for inspection at the Warehouse where your barrel is located and sign to acknowledge receipt of goods. Collect your barrel and head to the exit gate with your transportation. You are all done!

PLEASE NOTE! The contents of barrels and other cargo are seen in the scanner at the port. So keep it, legal people!

TOP TIP! If you are struggling to find your way around the wharf, ask one of the security guards where to go next!

FAQs About Clearing A Barrel In Jamaica

Have some questions about clearing a barrel in Jamaica? This is where you will find the answers to the most common questions I have received about the process.

How Do I Know My Barrel Is Ready For Clearing?

When you ship a barrel from your home country you are given a receipt and a bill of lading that will show the shipping agents’ contact details in Jamaica and an estimated time of arrival in Jamaica.

Most shipping agents will invite you to call their Jamaican-based offices around the date specified to check if the barrel has arrived and is ready for clearing. However, if you haven’t had a chance to call them they should contact you on the number you gave to let you know it is ready for you to come for it.

Make sure you have directions to the location of their Jamaican office so that you can collect the necessary paperwork from them to proceed to the wharf and clear your barrel.

How Much Does It Cost To Clear A Barrel In Jamaica?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the contents of the barrel you are clearing. But the standard fee for clearing a barrel of food, toiletries, and non-electrical household items is JA$6,500.

But, to give you an example… I cleared one barrel at Kingston Wharf, which contained a mixture of household items, food, and toiletries.

I had to pay the following fees to clear my barrel at Kingston Wharf:

  • Landing Fees ~ paid to my Shipping Agent: JA$3,700.00
  • Handling and Storage Fees ~ paid to Kingston Wharf: JA$4,630.00
  • Import fees, customs duties, etc ~ paid to Kingston Wharf: JA$6,500.00

What Facilities Are At Kingston Wharf?

The Kingston Wharf of 2022 is in a brand new building, which houses the entire process of clearing a barrel under one roof. It’s clean, modern, and streamlined. With air-conditioned waiting rooms, flat-screen TVs, iced water dispensers, vending machines, and clean toilets!

Once you are inside the building, you don’t have to go anywhere else, until you receive your gate pass and have to go outside to get your vehicle/driver. In short, it’s a revelation!

Disclaimer! *There are still (organized long) lines of people eager to clear their barrels and other cargo though!

What Do I Need To Bring With Me To Clear A Barrel?

  1. Tax-Free Allowance – C27/Yellow Form: If you requested an unaccompanied baggage clearance declaration (C27/Yellow form) form at the airport, this is now computerized and you will NOT be given a paper copy. When you get to the wharf, join the line for ‘the yellow form’ and the remaining allowance will automatically be deducted from the total tax you will have to pay.
  2. Bring ID: (Identification) Remember to bring your passport and Tax Payer Registration Number (TRN) card to the wharf.
  3. Bring Cash: Barrels containing ‘personal effects’ (e.g. food, clothes, toiletries, basic household items) or ‘non-commercial’ items attract a minimum charge of JMD$6,500.00 per barrel.
  4. Letter of Authorization: If you are clearing cargo on behalf of a consignee, you must present a letter of authorization, signed and stamped by a Justice of the Peace (JP). The consignee’s TRN card and valid passport must be presented to the Customs Official (photocopied documents must also be signed and stamped by a JP).

How Do I Arrange For My Barrel To Be Delivered To My Home?

Home delivery is offered by many Shipping Agents, but you would have to check with the individual agent for full details of the service they offer. The price of home delivery will depend on what you want to be delivered and to which part of the island.

There are two ports in Jamaica, Kingston Wharf and Montego Bay Wharf. Arrange for your items to be shipped to the nearest wharf to where you want the home delivery, to save on inland delivery costs.

If you haven’t had a chance to pre-arrange home delivery you can always charter a driver and vehicle at the wharf, as there are many plying their trade right outside the gates of the wharf. This can be risky though as you have no way of checking if they are reliable and will safely transport your items for you.

Please Note! If you arrange for Home Delivery in Jamaica with your overseas shipping agent, you will normally pay the fees for home delivery in the country of origin. Don’t forget YOU will also be responsible for the customs fees and taxes upon delivery to the home address in Jamaica, that the shipping agent has paid on your behalf to clear the items. So make sure you have the cash to hand!

Are There Any ‘Hidden Costs’ When Using A Shipping Company For Home Delivery?

When a Shipping Company offers home delivery, they are responsible for clearing the items at the wharf and pre-paying all the fees on your behalf.

These fees include taxes, customs duties, storage, and handling fees, and so on. All of which you will have to reimburse the Shipping Agent for once they deliver the items to you in Jamaica.

These fees may be considered ‘hidden costs, as they are not paid up-front in the country that the items were originally shipped from.

Firstly, the Shipping Agent will charge you Landing Fees in Jamaica. You can usually request the amount payable before you ship, as they should know the associated landing costs for the items you are shipping with them.

After that, all the other associated fees will not be known by the Shipping Agent, as they are governed and determined by the Jamaican Wharf and Customs.

Please note! The shipping agent should notify you of the final price payable prior to the goods being delivered to the home address provided in Jamaica so that you can have the correct amount of cash available on the day. The paperwork for the taxes and customs fees paid will show a breakdown of what your items were valued at, along with receipts for the total amount paid at each stage of clearing the barrel. (see above for more details)

If you are sending a barrel to someone else and are arranging home delivery for them in Jamaica, please ensure they have enough money to pay the final fees, as the items will not be released without full payment.

Can I Pay My Fees To Clear A Barrel Online?

The new spangly Kingston Wharf also boasts an updated online offering too – Kingston Wharves Online Services. With a new website and app that allows you to carry out some of the processes of clearing cargo online.

The Kingston Wharves App can be downloaded on Google Play Store.

The Kingston Wharves App enables you to check your shipments and pay some of the fees prior to your arrival at the wharf ~ But it does NOT include the ability to pay customs charges; as they won’t be known until your barrel has been opened and checked by Customs Officials.

Who can use the C27 or ‘ Yellow Form’ when shipping items to Jamaica?

Anyone who travels to Jamaica, no matter what nationality they are, is entitled to ship ‘unaccompanied luggage’ (i.e. a barrel or crate) to Jamaica. This gives you a tax-free allowance of US$500.00.

To get this entitlement you have to follow a few easy steps:

  1. If you travel to Jamaica on a foreign national passport (i.e. NOT a Jamaican passport) you will be given an ‘Immigration Form’ to fill in, remember to fill in the back of the form where it asks you to declare dutiable items as you will need this later when you get the C27 Form, which is known as the ‘Yellow Form’. I would NOT recommend getting too ‘creative’ with the figures as the customs officers have seen it all before and won’t be smiling along with you, as you try to deceive them!
  2. Approach the ‘to declare’ line at the Airport in Jamaica, and show them the Immigration Form (if you have one) and ask for a C27 or yellow form. Mark down any dutiable items that you have in your luggage that are clearly listed on the forms; be warned if you grossly underestimate the value the customs officer won’t be very sympathetic with you and you may end up having to pay tax at the airport! The customs officer will look through your accompanied luggage, i.e. your suitcases and hand luggage to check the value of any items deemed not to be of a personal nature and will judge the value of duty-free items purchased. If you feel the value marked down is too high and you have receipts for any of the items you can show them to the Customs Officer and they may give a further concession. Therefore, if the customs officer marks down a value of US$150.00 on the C27 form, that means you have a tax-free allowance of US$350.00 to use against the unaccompanied luggage you are clearing at the wharf.
  3. The C27 Form is now computerized and you will NOT be handed a paper copy of the form to carry to the wharf when you clear your items. Once you get to the wharf, don’t forget to join the line for the Yellow Form / Recently traveled persons and make them aware you have a tax-free allowance. This will be set against the tax payable on unaccompanied items that you have shipped to Jamaica. If you have shipped anything else that is arriving within a reasonable time (3 months) you can ask for any remaining allowance to be transferred to a new C27 form.

What Allowances Do Returning Residents Get When Shipping Personal Belongings To Jamaica?

There is a difference between a ‘returning resident’ bringing back personal belongings and a visitor to Jamaica bringing back ‘unaccompanied baggage’.

A returning resident, which includes deportees, are permitted to bring back a set amount of household and personal items tax-free.

A returning resident is defined as:

  1. Be a Jamaican national who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years; Has been resident overseas for not less than three 3 consecutive years and Returning to Jamaica to reside permanently.
  2. Non-Jamaican whose spouse is a Jamaican Returning Resident
  3. Jamaican student who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years and who has studied abroad for more than one year but less than three consecutive years.
  4. Jamaican who gave up his/her citizenship (and can provide proof of that previous status) and wishes to return home.

Further information for Returning Residents can be found on the Jamaican Government Customs Website.

Returning Residents Allowance For Shipping Items To Jamaica

Click the black Download Button below to view a copy of the List of Entitlements for Returning Residents to Jamaica.

Returning Residents Entitlement List

How do I Clear Charitable Donations shipped to Jamaica?

The following information has been copied from the Jamaican Customs website:

The receiver of the charitable donation can get a concession on the tax payable in Jamaica to clear the goods if you/they follow a certain procedure.

The beneficiary must be registered with the Department of Cooperative and Friendly Societies (DCFS) and obtain a Certificate of Registration.

Shipment must be sent only in the name and address of the registered charitable organization N.B.: All organizations wishing to receive benefits under the Charities Act must be registered with the DCFS.

Benefits to Organizations Registered Under the Charities Act

  • No import duty will be charged for charitable goods
  • No General Consumption Tax (GCT) will be applied for charitable items
  • Only fifty percent (50%) of applicable Customs Administration Fee (CAF)
  • All other applicable fees will be charged

How to Proceed when Clearing Charitable Items

When clearing shipments for charitable organizations the representative should proceed to the port of clearance with the following documents:

  • A copy of the Certificate of Registration
  • Signed Special Declaration
  • Bill of Lading or Airway Bill
  • Packing List
  • Invoice
  • Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC)
  • Permit/license, if applicable
  • Identification issued by the charitable organization – where clearance is being undertaken by an officer of the organization.

Please Note! Letter of authorization must be on the company’s letterhead – where clearance is being undertaken by an individual other than an officer of the organization. Shipment with a Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value that is above US$5,000.00 must be cleared by a licensed Customs Broker. Entities also have the option to utilize the services of a licensed Customs Broker to clear charitable items below this amount.

Importation of Motor Vehicle by an Approved Charity

  • Import Duty and General Consumption Tax are applicable
  • No Special Consumption Tax (SCT) and 50% of applicable CAF

PLEASE NOTE! Jamaica Customs and Tax Administration Jamaica will be executing post-audit operations with regard to goods being imported by Charitable Organizations. If any such organizations are deemed to have been in contravention of their approved status, the appropriate penalties will be applied.

Jamaica Customs – Charitable Donations Procedure

Ministry of Education – Adopting a Jamaican School 

Kingston Wharves Contact Details and Opening Hours

If you wish to get in touch with Kingston Wharves directly, have an emergency, or want to know the opening hours these details can be found below.

Customer Service Contact Details:

Telephone: +876 923 9211

Fax: +876 923 5361


Opening Hours: Mondays – Fridays | 8:00am – 4:00pm

24 Hour Contact:

Telephone: +876 937 9683 / +876 937 9689 / +876 536 5298

Fax: +876 757 5448


Kingston Wharves Opening Hours

Terminal: – 24 Hrs
Warehouse: Mon – Fri 8:00am – 4:00pm
Office: Mon – Fri 8:00am – 4:00pm

Image copyright Kingston Wharves Limited.

Reflecting on The Old Kingston Wharf

This post was originally written in 2012 when things were very different at the Kingston Wharf in Jamaica.

Long gone are the days of walking miles around the busy wharf complex, traversing from building to building to get reams of paperwork stamped.

Before risking your life walking across the busy thoroughfare, dodging huge wharf vehicles (that move entire 40ft containers) to reach the berth number where your barrels were stored. Phew!

Long gone are other things too. On re-reading the original post I have noticed a couple of other differences in the last 10 years. Although the standard rate for clearing a mixed barrel of food, toiletries, and personal items, is around the same; at a rate of JA$6,500.

The cost of getting the wharf has risen considerably. On my first trip I paid JA$9,000 (including gas/petrol) to get from Ocho Rios to Kingston Wharf, and back again. In 2022, I can expect to be charged between JA$22,000 to JA$28,000 for the same journey!

More Information on Shipping A Barrel

As I have 10 years of experience personally clearing barrels myself, I know it can be intimidating the first time you arrange to do it for yourself, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you do a little research on all the stages.

  1. What Are Barrels: Brief history of shipping barrels, what they are, and where to buy them
  2. What to Pack in a Barrel: Ideas and advice on what to purchase to fill your barrel
  3. How To Pack A Barrel: The best method of packing a barrel
  4. How To Ship a Barrel: How to find a shipping agent and arrange to ship a barrel to Jamaica
  5. How To Clear A Barrel: This post is all about how to clear a barrel in Jamaica!