Frequently Asked Questions about Shipping to Jamaica
*Post updated 13th February 2019*
After writing a whole series of posts about Shipping to Jamaica, my lovely readers have totted up over 100,00 views of these posts to date (thank you!) on the Sweet Jamaica website.
In this post I address some of your most frequently asked questions about shipping to Jamaica to solve a few more queries for you…
Why do people ship barrels to Jamaica?
You may be wondering what all the fuss is about, but I can assure you there is nothing more exciting than the prospect of receiving a barrel from ‘foreign’ when living in Jamaica.
When you get the call from the Shipping Agent that the barrel is ‘ready for collection’ at the wharf, a little leap of happiness and anticipation crosses the receivers very being.
You too can send some love wrapped up in a barrel to someone (or even yourself) when you fill it to the brim with useful and preferably edible, or wearable items from overseas…
What should I pack in a Shipping Barrel?
First and foremost: It may sound obvious, (but I have been asked this question many times) you need to decide what you are going to pack in the barrel being shipped to Jamaica!
Electrical items, alcohol and bundles of new name brand shoes and clothes will attract the interest of the customs officials and invariably high taxes.
Whereas dry and canned food items, basic household goods, toiletries, used clothing / shoes and personal belongings, do not.
If you are sending the barrel to yourself, pack things you love and miss from home, so if that means a barrel half filled with tins of Fray Bentos pies and Ambrosia Custard (as my friend did) go for it!
How can I find a reputable Shipping Agent for Jamaica?
Before you start buying and packing up your items you will need to find a reputable local Shipping Company / Agent that offers a service to Jamaica.
If you don’t know of any agents, ask your friends if they can recommend anyone, as the best recommendation is usually a referral.
You can also try searching online, and consider a browse through your local directory, such as, the Yellow Pages for some leads. The best thing is to compare the shipping prices, then search for reviews from previous customers to check the Shipping Agents service record.
Each Shipping company have a schedule of upcoming dates they will be shipping to Jamaica and will be able to tell you how long it should take for your goods to arrive at the wharf.
Top Tip! Make sure their shipping schedule suits your plans and travel itinerary, as the last thing you want is for your items to arrive at an inconvenient date for collection.
I would highly recommend checking these things prior to arranging shipping to avoid disappointment caused by a hasty decision.
Need more Help with Shipping Agents and Logistics in Jamaica?
If you don’t feel confident about arranging shipping yourself, you can always try our sister website ‘Live in Jamaica’. Where we offer shipping and logistics solutions to Jamaica, alongside many other relocation and construction services.
What Determines the Cost of Shipping to Jamaica?
The cost of shipping a crate or barrel to Jamaica varies from agent to agent and is dependent on a few different factors such as:
- The individual shipping agent fees
- The price they charge for the barrel or crate itself
- They may charge a collection fee, to collect the barrel from your home address
- Whether you plan to collect and clear the barrel at the Jamaican wharf in person (you or the recipient), or if you opt for home delivery from the shipping agent (if offered) which will impose additional costs
- Please remember to take into consideration that there will be fees to pay in Jamaica too; there is a landing fee from the shipping agent, a handling fee for the wharf and not forgetting the customs tax on the contents of the barrel. These fees are payable whether you collect the barrel yourself, or if you opt and arrange for home delivery
- You may also be charged storage fees by the wharf, if you don’t collect the barrel in good time once it has arrived…
Don’t let this you put you off though, as it isn’t as complex or expensive as it sounds.
How can I save money Shipping a Barrel to Jamaica?
TOP TIP! – It works out much cheaper if you ship the barrel to yourself, i.e. you can save money shipping a barrel to Jamaica, if you are both the sender and receiver listed on the ‘Bill of Lading’.
- Be pound smart and penny wise, when deciding what to pack in the barrel
- Arrange to ship the barrel from your home country to yourself
- Fly to Jamaica and request the C27 aka, the Yellow Form at the airport – which gives you a US$500.00 tax free allowance
- PLEASE NOTE! As this process is now computerised you will not be given a paper copy of the Yellow Form to carry to the wharf
- The Customs official will check your accompanied luggage (suitcases and hand luggage) to assess the value of items deemed to taxable. Which include: ‘duty free’ items bought en-route (liquor, perfume, tobacco products etc) ‘gifts’, ‘resale items’, electrical items and items not for your personal use
- This total will be deducted from your US$500.00 tax free allowance, i.e. if the goods in your accompanied luggage are valued at US$100, you will have a US$400.00 allowance to use at the wharf for the whatever you have shipped down as ‘unaccompanied baggage’ (barrels and crates and so on)
- When you go to the wharf to clear your barrel, make SURE you join the line for the ‘yellow form’ / persons who have recently travelled. Otherwise the tax free allowance will not be allocated to your shipped goods
Can I get a Home Delivery service from the wharf in Jamaica?
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 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.
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 cash to hand!
Top Tip! If you need further assistance with Shipping and Logistics in Jamaica our sister company ‘Live in Jamaica’ can help you. Make Contact to see how they can address your Shipping and Logistics needs in Jamaica.
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 the items you are shiping with them.
After that, all the other associated fees will not be known by the Shipping Agent, as they governed and determined by the Jamaican Wharf and Customs.
Please note! You will be not be notified of the final price payable until the goods are delivered to the home address provided in Jamaica. The paperwork for the taxes and customs fees associated with clearing the items will be handed over for immediate payment.
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.
How much does it cost to ship a barrel to Jamaica from where I live?
AThere is no exact answer to this question, as the price to ship a barrel depends on many factors.
However, I can tell you that finding a reputable local agent should be your first port of call, if you will excuse the pun!
I would initially suggest checking out local directories, such as, the Yellow Pages, which lists Shipping Companies based in your local area. Whether this be online or in good old traditional paper format!
Browse through the list and check out the services offered by each shipping agent, including the cost of the empty barrel, the shipping companies fees (both in the home country and Jamaica) and the shipping time.
I would then highly recommend that you ‘Google’ the company to find reviews about them before you agree to send off your possessions with them.
But to give an example of the last time (December 2018) I shipped a barrel to Jamaica, a London based Shipping Agent charged me:
- £32.00 to buy the empty barrel
- £50.00 per barrel, (or £120.00 for three barrels) to collect the barrel from my address in London and ship it to Kingston Wharf, Jamaica
- JA$3,700.00 Landing Fees for one barrel; payable to the Shipping Agent Office based at the Wharf in Jamaica
- Remember there are additional fees to pay directly to Kingston Wharf for storage, handling, customs fees, duties, taxes etc on top of the charges payable to the Shipping Agent!…
How do I Clear Charitable Donations shipped to Jamaica? Do I pay Taxes?
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
- Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC)
- Permit/licence, 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 letter head – where clearance is being undertaken by an individual other than an officer of the organisation. 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 utilise the services of licenced 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 regards 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.
Ministry of Education ~Adopting a Jamaican School
Who can use the C27 or ‘ Yellow Form’ when shipping items to Jamaica?
Anyone who travels to Jamaica, no matter what nationality they are, are 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:
- 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!
- 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 which 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.
- The C27 Form is now computerised 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 travelled 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 items to Jamaica?
AThere 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:
- 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.
- Non-Jamaican whose spouse is a Jamaican Returning Resident
- 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.
- 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
Click the black Download Button below to view a copy of the List of Entitlements for Returning Residents to Jamaica.
Further Information About Shipping to Jamaica
We have plenty of guides about shipping to Jamaica. Check out our other posts to read the whole series on Shipping to Jamaica
Sweet Jamaica Guides to Shipping
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