Shipping Crate

Sending a Crate or Barrel to Jamaica

Sending a Crate or Barrel to Jamaica

Whether you intend on sending a crate or barrel to Jamaica for yourself, or a loved one,  there are a few things to consider before you start buying up goods to fill it. After successfully shipping down enough barrels to start my own barrel shop in Jamaica, I have garnered some great tips and tricks up my sleeve in the process. Plus, I have squeezed in some of your FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) about sending a crate or barrel to Jamaica in the same post for a bit of added insight!…

Why Should you consider Shipping a Barrel 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 plastic 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 you put in your Barrel

First and foremost: It may sound obvious, but I have been asked this question so many times before…  You need to decide what you are going to send to Jamaica in the barrel! 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, second-hand clothes 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 to Find a reputable Shipping Agent to send Items to 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 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. 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. If you don’t feel confident about doing it yourself, you can always try a company called ‘Living in Jamaica’ who offer a free shipping quotation to Jamaica, alongside many other Jamaican Relocation Services. 

What Determines the Cost of Shipping a Crate or Barrel 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:

  1. The individual shipping agent fees
  2. The price they charge for the barrel or crate itself
  3. They may charge a collection fee, to collect the barrel from your home address
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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’.

Simply ship the barrel from your home country, fly to Jamaica yourself and collect and fill out the C27 or Yellow Form at the airport. Get it stamped by Customs, then carry this form with you to the wharf to get up to a US$500.00 tax free allowance. 

Kingston wharves
Kingston Wharves

Frequently asked Questions about Shipping to Jamaica

Q) Do Shipping Agents offer Home Delivery in Jamaica and what is the cost?

A)  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 Remember, you will also be responsible for the customs fees and taxes upon delivery to the home address in Jamaica.

Q) Are there any ‘hidden costs’ when using a Shipping Company for Home Delivery?

A) When a Shipping Company offers home delivery, they are responsible for clearing the items at the wharf and pre-paying all fees on your behalf. These fees may be considered ‘hidden costs’ as they governed and determined by the Jamaican Customs Official who searches your items in Jamaica, and as such the Shipping Agent is unable to pre-determine these costs prior to the goods landing in Jamaica.

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.

Barrel Contents
Contents of a Barrel Sent to Jamaica

Q) How much does it cost to ship a barrel to Jamaica from where I live?

A) There 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 the Yellow Pages, which lists Shipping Companies based in your local area.

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.

Further information Shipping to Jamaica, can be found the  checking out my other posts: The Art of Shipping a Barrel Part One and  The Art of Shipping a Barrel Part Two, which cover my own experience of visiting Kingston Wharf.

Q) How do I go about shipping a Charitable Donation to Jamaica, do I have to Pay Tax?

A) The receiver of the charitable donation are able to get a concession on the tax payable in Jamaica to clear the goods if you / they follow a certain procedure. You must inform the school / institution of the intended donation and make sure that they have obtained the Charitable Organisations status. The following information has been copied from the Jamaican Customs website:

Kingston, Jamaica: – Effective July 15, 2013, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) will administer the tax relief for approved charitable organizations. No longer will charitable organizations, including Faith Based and Sporting Institutions be required to apply to the Minister of Finance and Planning to be granted a relief of customs duties and taxes for their charitable imports.

Approved charitable organizations are now required to apply directly to the Commissioner of Customs PRIOR to any shipment of goods, whether by donations or otherwise, to receive the requisite approval before the goods arrive at the Port of entry. Charitable Organizations that have not gained their “Charitable Organizations” approval will need to apply to the Commissioner General of the TAJ in order to gain that status.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning will continue to process applications that are currently in its possession until the enactment of the legislation; thereafter all applicants for duty/tax waiver will be referred to the Jamaica Customs Agency.

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.

The new arrangement for the treatment of approved charitable organizations is being done in accordance with the Houses of Parliament recently approved Bill entitled Charitable Organizations (Tax Harmonization) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2013.

You can also check out these links from the Ministry of Education for further information:

Making donations of gift in kind

Adopting a Jamaican School 

Barrels shipping to Jamaica
Shipping Barrels to Jamaica

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

A) Anyone who travels to Jamaica, no matter where they are from, are entitled to ship ‘unaccompanied items’ (i.e. a barrel or crate) to Jamaica to a value of US$500.00. To get this entitlement you have to follow a few easy steps:

  1. If you are travelling on a Jamaican passport you can omit this step and move to Step 2. 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 arrival airport 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.
  3. Take the C27 Form to the wharf and any remaining tax-free allowance you have 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.

Q) Allowances for Returning Residents who are Shipping items to Jamaica?

A) 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.

The full list of entitlements given to a Returning Resident can be found on the Jamaican Government Customs Website.

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

Have you shipped a crate or barrel to Jamaica, share your experience? Join the Comments Below….



24 thoughts on “Sending a Crate or Barrel to Jamaica”

  1. Great post, very helpful. Just landed a job at UWI Mona and in a tizz about packing up and shipping my personal effects so thank you. One question. How many weeks did it take for your barrels to travel between UK and Kingston? I have to be in JA by late August so need to plan shipping carefully so that I don’t have to wait ages and ages for my pits and pans and bed linen and food etc.!
    How did you manage without your household stuff while waiting for barrels to arrive?
    I live close to Croydon so may use Shipleys!
    Hope you don’t mind if I pick your brain now and again

    1. Hey Cecily

      Welcome to the site and thank you for taking the time to comment. I am glad that you found the information useful and would be happy to help with anything else you need clarification on!

      Firstly congratulations on securing a position at UWI (University of the West Indies) Mona, you must be very proud. UWI is a fantastic and well respected educational establishment in Jamaica and I am sure you will be fulfilled for your time there. I would love to hear more about your role there and how long you plan to stay in Jamaica, it is an exciting time! I was in Kingston the other day and had a fantastic time, so much so that I am thinking about moving to ‘Town’ (as they call it over here).

      To answer your question about shipping: It normally takes around 3 weeks to sail from the UK to Kingston, all being well, and another 2-3 days to unload the ship and move all the goods into the warehouses ready for collection and inspection. Once this has happened the shipping agent usually calls you to let you know the goods are ‘ready for collection’. I would recommend collecting the goods within 1-2 days of this notification, as the storage fees will be charged at a higher rate after this timescale. Please bear in mind that the shipping agent will not ship items on the same day they collect them from you in the UK, as they have to prepare all the goods and get them to the UK wharf ready to load onto the ship. This may take an additional 7-10 days depending on the shipping agents schedule.

      Therefore as a rough guide I would have your things ready to be collected at the beginning of August, loaded and departed by the end of the first week in August, arrives in Kingston around the end of August, is unpacked and ready for collection sometime in the first week of September. They say that you should leave plenty of time for things to arrive (especially) at Easter and Christmas, however I wouldn’t be too over cautious as you don’t want your goods lying around in Kingston for days, or weeks on end waiting for collection as this is counter-productive too.

      I would highly recommend calling the shipping agent you are intending to use as soon as possible. Ask them what is the ‘latest date’ they can collect the goods from you, to arrive in Kingston (for example) around the first week in September. They will guide you as to their personal collection dates for your local area and the shipping dates that would suit your schedule, as each agent offers different timetables. Kingsley Shipping has always provided me with an excellent service. They sell barrels at around £32.00 each and can make up ply-wood crates to suit any size loose items, they collect on time and are polite, professional and friendly. I have never had any damages or had any items going astray when I have shipped with them.

      In order to survive before your things arrive, you need to get into ‘minimalistic mode’! That means thinking about what items you are definitely going to need immediately and which items you cannot live without, or things you would class as your ‘luxury’ items if stranded on a desert island and bring them with you on the flight. You can stash one bed sheet set, a couple of towels, mosquito net, shower curtain, small amount of cutlery and utensils (remember food prep knives), washing up cloths and tea towels, washing line and pegs, your favourite mug / teacup and of course the all important comfort foods, like teabags, a sauce, seasoning, biscuits or whatever else will make you feel at home in your luggage. If need be you can buy a shiny new dutch pot and some plastic plates (can be re-used for picnics) and cups to use until the rest of your things arrive.

      In the mean time you can check out these other posts to glean some more information about shipping, which I hope will also help you.

      Hope this helps and I look forward to hearing from again soon!

      Bless Up Jules

    2. Hi Jules, so much food for thought! I’ve been in touch with Kingsley as fortunately they are just a few miles away from me and as you said, I agree they are very knowledgeable and helpful. I mentioned your recommendation on the blog and they were pleased to know I’d come via you. I has thought about the kind of items I’d need to take in my luggage but certainly hadn’t thought about a clothes line and pegs! I am, as you say going to have to go deep into minimalist mode as there will be about 6 weeks between my despatch ing the barrels and my departure so I will be living without most of my household effects!

      Just one query. You stated that I should keep receipts for electrical items that I ship but most of these will be used rather than new. Will I be charged duty on them as if they are new?
      Thanks for your help.

    3. Hey Cecily

      Glad to be of help, it can get a bit hectic when you are planning a move abroad!

      You will find that you can manage for a short while without the bulk of your things and it is really exciting when they all arrive and you start unpacking them all again! I have been known to bring 3 bags when I fly down to JA especially when I was first coming for an extended trip, as it gave me the space to carry all my essentials with me!

      I would recommend keeping the receipts, even if they are for ‘used’ items as they can be used as a reference point if the Customs get carried away with their valuation. If the items are used then take them in a state that makes it obvious that they are used; I am not saying to make things look old or dirty, but now is not the time to be highly scouring pots and pans and cleaning things to within an inch of their life (if you know what I mean!).

      Remember that the electrical current is different over here to the UK, it is 110v instead of 240v. In my experience only the least greedy power consumers will work with an ‘adapter’ (white plug adapter from 3 pin to 2 pin), a laptop, camera charger, mobile (cell) phone charger are all fine. But, I have not been able to get enough power to work any of the following with a normal adapter: hairdryer, flat-iron (straightners), laptop speaker set, electric razor, iron (pressing clothes).

      Hope this helps!

      Bless up Jules

  2. Hello – I quickly read your very informative information. I do have one question that I may have missed, Do you have to pay a shipping cost based on the weight of a packed barrel? I know you purchased a barrel at UK 30, did you pay weight per barrel in addition to a cost per barrel? thanks

    1. Hey Laurel

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and welcome to the site.

      In answer to your question, I have never paid based on the weight of the barrel (and it’s probably just as well!) as the shipping company has a set price to purchase the empty barrel and a set price to ship the full barrel, no matter the weight of the contents. I imagine if you wanted to fill it with lead or something super heavy they would say something, but as long as it can be moved into the van and loaded onto the ship by 1-2 people you’re good to go.

      Hope this helps, best of luck

  3. I shipped a laptop and a phone in the barrel I had no other way to get it to my sister who is attending university there,I am really worried I have that people steal stuff at wharf especially items like those please assure me that she will get it is there a way I can pay to keep them safe when they arrive in jamaica? I don’t want them to stolen I have no more money and my sister just started university.thank you

    1. Hey Chal

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Although I cannot guarantee that the items will get to your sister safely, you can take some measures to ensure they have the best chance. If you have shipped with a reputable shipping agent they will secure your barrel with a special lock and pack it safely within a container for transit. So opportunities for tampering here are minimal.

      Once it reaches Jamaica it will be held at the wharf until someone comes to clear it. Until the barrel has been cleared, it won’t be opened and the lock should be intact. By far the safest way to get all your items to your sister is to ask her to go to the wharf to clear and collect the barrel herself. If she is unable to go herself then make sure that the person you ask to clear the barrel is trustworthy and honest. Many items go missing from barrels because the friends, or family member (etc) that clears the barrel takes items out for themselves, that were not intended for them – whilst implying that it was the wharf staff or shipping company that took it…. If you have paid for ‘home delivery’ through your shipping agent, then it will be the responsibility of the shipping agent to be present when the barrel is opened and searched to be valued. The barrel will be repacked back in their presence and will be delivered to your home address. It would be very foolhardy for the shipping agents to steal from the barrels as it would impede their customer service record and reputation. If you do opt for home delivery make sure that your sister is the ‘receiver’ and personally is present when the barrel is delivered to the address to take out the items intended for her.

      I wish you good luck and hope it all goes well.

      Bless up Jules

  4. This is great information, I have a question. I am moving to Jamaica soon and have never shipped anything. I want to know how to go about shipping my household goods to Falmouth Jamaica. do I pack the items myself or does the shipping company I choose does it. also my things are in storage at this time and I don’t remember what is in some of the boxes. do I have to go through them and list all the items.

    1. Hi Carmen

      Welcome to the site. Thank you for taking the time to comment, I am glad you found the post useful.

      Firstly I would like to say congratulations on your move, it must be an exciting and overwhelming time for you. But you can make things easier for yourself if you plan and have a reliable shipping company. You have ship to either Montego Bay, or Kingston and from there the shipping company can arrange for delivery to Falmouth. I would highly recommend researching local shipping agents to find one that has experience of shipping personal effects to Jamaica and that has an impeccable reputation. These two posts, give further information about shipping to Jamaica:

      You may be eligible for a ‘returning residents allowance’ if you meet certain types of status and criteria, namely that you are Jamaican, or the spouse of a Jamaican that has been overseas for at least 3 years and is returning to live in Jamaica. If you are eligible I would highly recommend looking into this as it will save you masses in terms of taxes and duties that are payable when you ship anything to Jamaica. There is a list of items that can be shipped, tax free, which is worth pursuing. This link gives further information:

      You do not have to list every individual item that you have packed and it would be unnecessary to unpack barrels that are in storage. When the shipping agents and customs ask you what type of goods you have it is Ok to list them as ‘household effects’, ‘food’, ‘personal items’, ‘toiletries’ and so on. If you are going to use the returning residents allowance you will need to be mark off the items you have within the allowance and any additional items will be eligible for the normal taxes and duties.

      I hope this information helps and I wish you the best of luck with everything.

      Bless up Jules

      Hope this helps and I look forward to hearing from again soon!

  5. Are there any limitations on quantity? My son will be having an art show and i will be sending some flat stools and art frames plus household items (ie soaps lotions etc) maybe a few food items too. the cost of everything will be less than $500 but I’m worried if quantity will be an issue. i want to send 20 stools and 20 frames, Yes they all fit in a barrel! 🙂 Thanks for helping me figure this out! great post by the way!

    1. Hey Lisa
      Welcome to the site and thanks for your kind words about the post!

      Not knowing the ins and outs of your situation, I would give this advice…

      If the person that is going to clear the barrel has just travelled from overseas, they can request a ‘yellow form’ from the customs officials in the airport (right at the end, where you pick up your bags). As a visitor to Jamaica you are allowed to bring $500 of goods into Jamaica, as gifts or to give away as donations etc. Regardless of whether this be carried by you in your luggage, or sent as ‘unaccompanied luggage’ through a shipping agent. When you request the yellow form the customs officials will search your luggage and make a note on the yellow form of how much to deduct out of the $500 allowance. For example, if the officials deem you have $200 worth of goods in your luggage, you will have the remaining $300 to use at the wharf to clear the barrel. Therefore, if you are just sending the barrel from the UK to your son in Jamaica, and neither of you will be travelling the $500 dollar allowance will not be given.

      In this case the person clearing the barrel will need to pay the taxes and customs duties for the value of the goods as laid out in the Jamaica customs tariff. I would therefore give this advice. Firstly, when you pack the barrel, put the receipts for the items enclosed in an envelope at the top of the barrel and tell your son to look out for it. This will prove the value of the items to customs officials if they ask for it, or if they are being flagrant with the applicable amount of taxes due on it, he can show the receipts to get an appeal on the value. Secondly, pack the frames and stools in the barrel first, like with like, as they will travel more soundly. Then add the other food, toiletries and so on, nearer the top; as long as the items are not heavy and will damage the items below! The customs officials are looking out for barrels that come down as ‘personal goods’ but that contain an amount of goods that can be re-sold commercially. If necessary your son can explain that he enjoys painting, or that is he an art student etc (if applicable), putting on a show. If the items are being sent down are genuinely for personal use then the quantity should be o.k.

      I hope this helps! Best of luck Jules

  6. Hi how are you? wondering Where in Colorado, can I find a shipper that ships Barrels to kingston or Montego bay Jamaica?

    1. Hey Lisa
      Welcome to the site! I would recommend searching online, or looking in the local business directory for a shipper for your area. Once you have found one that agrees to ship to Jamaica, google them to see if there are any reviews from others who have used their service before committing.

      Hope this helps and Good Luck.

      Bless up Jules

  7. Do you have any info or comments from anyone shipping to Montego Bay from the Dallas Texas area.

    Thanks for all the info. Everything has been very helpful so far.

    1. Welcome to the site

      I would recommend looking in the local business directory for a shipping agent that serves Jamaica.

      Our sister company Living in Jamaica currently offers assistance to persons living in the UK with shipping to Jamaica.

      Bless up Jules

    2. Hi! Thanks for all the info! I have a question that I didn’t see posted. How do you go about shipping furniture and appliances and televisions from The U. S to Jamaica? I’m moving there with my husband spring 2018 and just trying to get everything in order.

    3. Hi Tiffany

      Welcome to the site and thanks for sending some love!

      I would recommend checking out the Jamaica Customs website, as they have all the official information about shipping personal and household items to Jamaica.

      It also depends on your circumstances. You may qualify for concession if you and your partner are classed as ‘Returning Residents’. There is a list of eligible items that can be shipped down tax free that can found on their website.

      Your shipping agent will be able to assist you with packing and packing materials, if you don’t want to take care of all that yourself.

      Hope this helps!

      Bless up Jules

  8. Hay guys this is Carmen, this is a warning for anyone shipping to Jamaica. Especially returning residents. Make sure to take pictures of important items and keep records and receipt of new purchases and expensive items you ship. Also make sure your items are insured and is written on your shipping receipt. I used Quickship Carribean Service in Orlando to ship my household items to Jamaica. I choose them because the seam nice. I was ok with my first two shipment but the shipment my husband did, poor darling being American did not understand trusted them and I my pots, fireplace electric log, baking ware etc. Never made it. When I got in touch with them I got the runaround. I am still waiting for my household items. I would not recommend them to anyone. There customer service is non existent and I will never use them again. Just saying.

    1. Hey Carmen

      Welcome to the site and thanks for sharing your story. Unfortunately there are times when we cross paths with unscrupulous people who will make your move back home an unsavoury experience. I hope that you have had some disclosure on this matter.

      Thanks and best wishes Jules

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