How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

A Guide to Packing Barrels and Drums for Shipping

So you have decided to ship a barrel to Jamaica, but don’t know where to start with the packing? Buying up goods and packing your first barrel is like going through a rite of passage and not necessarily an enlightened one if not done right.

It takes time, patience and cunning packing skills to ensure you start on the right foot. Cutting corners could mean the end result puts you off from doing it again.  To end your barrel packing dilemmas and nightmares, I have put together my top tips and tricks on how to pack a barrel for shipping to Jamaica the easy breezy way….

More Information: Missed the brief on what to buy, Read What to Pack in a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

 

 How to Pack a Barrel

Packing a barrel effectively can take some time, patience and experience. But once you get the hang of it you will be able to make the best use of space and keep the contents safe and secure in transit.

I would highly recommend tackling the packing when you have a couple of hours (at the very least) to spare and when you aren’t tired, hungry or generally in a bad mood. Packing a barrel can be tedious to say the least and it’s best to get into it when the timing is right. Instead of leaving it to the last minute, resulting in bags of breakfast cereal being popped and thrown around the room in frustration!

 

Getting Prepared:

  • Grab a drink and maybe a snack and leave it to hand, packing a barrel can be hungry and thirsty work – I recommend a nice cup of tea or coffee, or alcohol… it’s one of those tasks that demands it!
  • Move away of all items that you do NOT want to pack in the barrel, so they don’t get accidentally shipped to Jamaica (goodbye remote control!)
  • Wait until you have all (or most) of the items you want to ship, before attempting to pack your barrel
  • Have plenty of tape, newspaper, bubble wrap, containers, plastic bags, food bags and a black permanent marker to hand
  • Sort the items into type; dried foods, tinned foods, detergents / cleaning products, toiletries, clothing and fabric based items, delicate and breakable items and so on
  • Apply strong parcel (brown tape) or gaffer tape around all the covers and caps of items, especially if the bottles contain liquids / sauces
  • Double wrap items in plastic packaging, such as rice, couscous, dried beans, legumes, breakfast cereal – if the bag gets snagged and sends the whole contents plummeting to the bottom of the barrel
  • Wrap any glass jars, crockery, china and breakable containers in newspaper or bubble wrap; for extra security you can put the wrapped jars inside a plastic storage container to keep them contained and protected
  • See if there is any additional packaging that can be removed, such as, the boxes toothpaste tubes are packaged in, or breakfast cereal boxes
  • Remove ‘air’ from packaging; make a small hole in plastic packaging and squeeze the additional air out of the package, seal back the hole with packing or gaffer tape – such as bags of rice and pasta

Loading the Barrel:

  • If you are shipping two or more barrels, put the chemicals, detergents, toiletries and the tinned foods in one barrel, and put the other foodstuffs and delicate stuff in another barrel, to prevent transfer of scent and to protect food from accidental contamination
  • Pack your barrel in layers to prevent damage to the contents and the transfer of smell / taste; which is why it is important to sort the items into type
  • Put heavy and bulky items to the bottom of the barrel to make a strong foundation for the rest of the contents to sit on
  • Any chemicals, should be packed to the bottom of the barrel so that they cannot spill over the other items
  • Stack tins, in tall turrets, one on top of the other to conserve space
  • Pack small items, such as tubes of toothpaste and sachets of food, in empty plastic containers or plastic bags and push them into any gaps
  • You can restrict the transfer of scented items, such as soap and perfumes, by sealing them inside air-tight containers – do not pack them near to dried goods which have a habit of ‘sucking up’ the scent (soap flavoured rice and pasta does not taste good!)
  • Delicate food items, such as dried goods, snacks and breakfast cereals should be packed at the top of the barrel and double wrapped where they cannot be squashed or burst
  • Use soft items, such as, towels or clothes to form a barrier between the heavy items at the bottom of the barrel and the soft and food items near the top, this also helps prevent the spread of scent
  • Place any receipts for proof of the cost and age (non-food items) of the contents in an envelope and put it on the top of the contents in case you want to show it to customs officials at the wharf to prove the value of goods; new non-food items will attract more import taxes, so if you can prove that dish set or electrical item is used it will lessen the blow
  • This may seem ridiculous, but… don’t clean, shine and spruce up used household items – the wear and tear ensures it is obvious it is a used item (see above point) – this is probably not appropriate if sending items to others, but if it is for your own use just scour that old dutch pot to within an inch of its life when you get to Jamaica
  • Leave a few empty plastic bags at the top of the barrel in case you need to put anything in them that wont fit back in the barrel after customs have gone through it

 

How to Pack a Barrel in Layers

 

Making the Best use of Space in the Barrel

Before you put a single item in the barrel consider this. Your barrel will be squeezed and stacked among enough barrels to fill a 20ft or 40ft container. The containers will be stacked sky-high on a cargo ship, which will transport your heaving barrel across the ocean waves to Jamaica. Where it will be unpacked unceremoniously on a table in the wharf for clearing through Customs. After all of that it will be repacked and covered for the last leg of the journey, to your home in Jamaica… Quite an adventure for a humble barrel.

Five Things that went wrong

Whilst I do highly recommend using up all the available space and nooks and crannies in your barrel, don’t go overboard. I have noticed if I pack too zealously things go wrong. I have a few incidents that spring to mind…

  1. The time a can of soda was pierced with an unidentified sharp object, which left strange brown stains over everything below it – Result: I am more aware of what is nestled beside each other
  2. The time a pack of dried chickpeas popped, spilling to the bottom of the barrel – Result: I double / triple wrap flimsy packaging now in plastic carrier bags
  3. The time my brand new large plastic container cracked so badly at one end a piece fell off – Result: I don’t over stuff the inside and I leave a bit of breathing (or should I say heaving) room around the outside, to be extra cautious you can wrap soft and cushioning fabric items around it
  4. The time two champagne glasses had their stems broken – Result: I drank it out of sanitary cups… just joking! I now wrap every breakable item in bubble wrap
  5. The time my Mum secretly packed some Christmas goodies at the top of a barrel, but left scented items with chocolate coins – Result: I put anything porous or scented inside an airtight container to stop the transfer of smell, as the chocolate tasted of perfume

 

How to pack a barrel

In Conclusion – Highlights of my Packing Tips!

I find that by having everything you want to pack in the barrel in front of you, you tend to plan the packing more efficiently which lessens the chances of mishaps.

Heavy items and hazardous chemicals should always be put in the bottom of the barrel first and the caps and covers should be taped. It is not uncommon for the contents of bottles to be squeezed and compressed so much that they force their way around the cap spilling into the bottom of the barrel. Not good if it is bleach or shampoo. Top Tip! Tape the caps really securely with strong brown tape of gaffer tape, ensuring any items with a pump cannot be dispensed.

Soaps and clothes detergents have very strong scents which can penetrate through a plastic bag and soak into dried goods and even chocolate bars!  Make sure you separate these types of items and preferably put either the offending items, or the food stuffs into airtight containers to control the transfer of perfumed goods. Better still, use both if possible. I like to use mason jars and empty ice-cream tubs to stuff small items inside, as they come in handy for storing foodstuffs when I get to Jamaica. Top Tip! Put dried foods and scented products in reusable airtight containers.

If I am bringing any breakables or delicate items I buy a big plastic box with a cover, and pack the items inside after wrapping them individually in bubble wrap; this container can be used to store your supplies of dry goods afterwards to keep them away from insects and vermin. Make sure the container can pass through the mouth of the barrel! It will usually have to be stored on its end in the barrel, so pack the heavier items to one side of the box and place that end into the barrel first; I would also recommend taping the cover to the box, so that it cannot come open when being removed from the barrel. Top Tip! Many warehouse stores and Ikea sell large plastic storage boxes – don’t forget to tape the cover on!

Look for ‘hidden’ space lurking in the barrel, or create it. Any empty vessels can be stuffed with something, such as pots and pans; remove the handles where possible, then tape the handle and screw together before placing it inside if it will fit, along with some stuff that will fit inside (breakables or easily squashed foods are ideal as the temporary metal vessel it travels in is highly protective). Release excess air from items that will not spoil by doing so. Put something else in the ‘dead space’ in packaging, such as the top of a bulk pack of clothes washing detergent – I recommend using a bottle of fabric softener, or something that won’t be affected by the strong scent. Remove unnecessary extra packaging, if it will not be in detriment to the items arriving safely. Top Tip! Look carefully for extra space you can find or save to maximise the contents

If you are packing dishes or glassware which are sold in a cardboard box, I would recommend opening it and placing a sheet of bubble wrap between each item before replacing them back in the cardboard box. This may make it hard to fit everything into the box, so a good old piece of tape might be needed to secure a box bursting at the seams! Top Tip! Use Bubble wrap, or the very least newspaper to wrap breakable items and tape boxes at the seams!

Use soft items, such as towels, curtains and clothes to form a ‘barrier’ between the items in the bottom of the barrel and the delicate items at the top; it creates a great scent catcher too! Top Tip! You may prefer to place these types of items in a plastic bag to keep them clean.

 

Looking for a shipping quotation to Jamaica

Further Information About Shipping

We have plenty of guides about shipping a barrel or crate, or anything else for that matter. Check out our other posts to read the whole series on Shipping to Jamaica:

Sweet Jamaica Guides to Shipping

Want to know what a barrel is all about and where to get one? Read A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

Want to learn the best contents for packing in a Barrel? Read How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

Want to learn the process involved in shipping in the senders country? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part One

Want to learn the process involved in collecting a shipment in Jamaica? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part Two

Want some additional information on Shipping to Jamaica? Read Sending a Barrel or Crate to Jamaica

_______________________________________________

Get More From Sweet Jamaica – Join Us Here…

Want to get updates on the move then join us…

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

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

 




What to Pack in a Barrel being Shipped to Jamaica

Shopping Cart

What to Pack in a Barrel being Shipped to Jamaica

So you read the ‘Guide to Barrels And Drums – Shipping Basics’ and are fully versed on what barrels and drums are all about. Now you are ready to try shipping a barrel for yourself.

If you are feeling confused and hot under the collar about what to put in the barrel and where to buy it, you have come to the right place.

This post gives you a guide as to what to pack in a barrel being shipped to Jamaica so you get the most out of the experience and cost involved in shipping.

More Information: Missed the memo on barrels and drums? A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

What to Pack for Jamaica

Before you go ahead and buy your barrel you will need to think about filling it up. A standard sized barrel holds 210 – 220 litres (about 55 Gallons) and is surprisingly roomy inside, consuming innumerable items to fill it up.

Depending on what you buy,  it can be costly to fill up a barrel due to the internal capacity. So either take your time buying up items over a period of months, or get yourself prepared for the onslaught if buying it all in one go.

If you are stuck as to what to put in the barrel, think about who the recipient will be. Are you sending the barrel to yourself, or to a loved one?

For example, is the barrel going to a child, an adult with a young family, or are you sending it to granny? This will help you determine the type of things you are going to want to initially include as the essential or basic items.

If you want to pack a barrel with provisions, just think about what you, or the recipient normally eat and use inside the home.  After that, buy some things that will be useful. For good measure add some of your favourite treats and a few bits to give away, plus anything else that is expensive and hard to come by in Jamaica.

That might be easier said than done, especially if you haven’t been to Jamaica for a while (or ever before), as it can be hard to know ‘what is expensive and hard to come by in Jamaica’ if you have no experience of living there! So keep reading and I will cover that for you too.

More Information: If you are ready to start packing your barrel, read How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

10 Tips when Buying Contents for a Barrel

  1. If you are on a budget try buying goods over a period of time, especially when they are on offer
  2. Check the sell-by-date and reach for the products with the longest remaining date printed on the label
  3. Look out for deals, sales, promotions, coupons, buy-one-get-one-free, 3 for 2 deals and special offers
  4. Check out bargain basement stores, such as £1 – One pound, and $1 – One dollar stores
  5. Join warehouse stores, such as Costco or Makro, and buy bulk sized portion packs
  6. Compare the prices of products online before going out and buying everything from one store
  7. Make use of supermarket home delivery, you are less likely to deviate from your list if you buy online
  8. Look for products packaged in plastic containers, rather than glass, as they travel better and require less padding
  9. Second-hand clothing attracts less tax, eCommerce sites, such as eBay has sellers offering ‘bulk loads or bundles’ of clothing, many barely worn, for next to nothing
  10. Remember the climate is different, unstable goods rot and melt, man-made materials have a tendency to suffer from dry rot and un-coated metal products are soon affected by rust

tinned cans

Barrel Content Ideas and Tips

The most important thing to remember is to only pack ‘shelf stable’ products, so don’t pack anything that requires refrigeration.

Think of it as the contents of a pantry, so buy up stocks of kitchen and home basics that have a long sell-by-date and which form part of a meal. Household items, school supplies and hurricane preparation goods are well received, as well as clothes and accessories.

 

Pack a Barrel – Content Ideas 

  • Dried foodstuffs; rice, dried pasta, dried beans / legumes, noodles, couscous, tea bags, hot and cold drink powders (with milk and sugar inside!), biscuits, snacks, breakfast cereal, cornmeal, popping corn, dried seasoning, protein powders and health foods
  • Tinned foodstuffs; fish, meat, baked beans, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit / desserts, milk, (Jamaican’s aren’t fans of tinned soup)
  • Jarred / bottled foodstuffs; cooking oil, peanut butter, spreads, sauces, condiments, jams (jelly), coffee, olives, pickles
  • Detergents and Cleaning materials; washing detergent for clothes, washing up liquid, bleach, cloths, sponges, pot scrubbers and other cleaning materials.
  • Kitchen essentials; foil, plastic wrap, food bags, food clips
  • Toiletries; soap, liquid soap / shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body lotion, face cream, deoderant, razors, face scrub / wash, suntan lotion, cotton wool / Earbuds (Q-tips)
  • First Aid; antiseptic cream, plasters (band-aid) bandages, tape, pain pills, allergy relief, muscle rub, vitamins, flu / cold remedies, insect repellent, bite relief, rehydration salts, diarrhoea and sickness relief
  • Kitchen wares; pots / pans, dishes, cups, cutlery, utensils,  mason jars and similar, tupperware /plastic airtight containers
  • Soft Furnishings; bed sheets, blankets and covers, shower curtains, towels and bath mats, tea towels
  • Household Items; washing line, clothes peg (pin)
  • School Supplies; backpack, pencil case, pens and pencils, geometry set, dictionary, coloured pencils, notebooks, sketch pad, craft supplies, embroidery supplies, reading books, educational aids, snacks
  • Hurricane Supplies; tarpaulin, rope, flash light, candles, rainmac / poncho, umbrella, water boots (wellington boots), batteries, counter-top gas plate (DO NOT inlcude the GAS cylinder!!), vessels to hold water

What NOT to Pack in a Barrel

  • Do not pack any items that usually need to be refrigerated, such as meat, cheese, fish or other dairy products
  • Do not pack any fresh fruits or vegetables, plants or flowers, any forms of live animals; including birds (incuding eggs) / insects / sea life / reptiles or other organisms!
  • Do not pack any freshly prepared products, or part cooked foods, such as breads and baked goods, microwave and oven meals, pizza and pastry items, fast food of any kind (although most fast food could survive a nuclear holocaust the amount of preservatives they contain!)
  • Do not pack anything that is flammable, explosive, corrosive or dangerous in any way!
  • Do not pack matches, lighters, gas cylinders of any kind, fireworks, wet batteries (vehicle batteries)

Items that are Expensive and hard to come by in Jamaica

I would like to say that most things are available in Jamaica, but certain items are really over priced or hard to find, especially if you live in rural areas.

International Foods: If you are into international foods and like to whip up your own meals, it would be prudent to include a few grocery items that make this possible.

I enjoy cooking Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Italian Foods, among other things. So I always pack basmati rice, authentic Thai Curry pastes, fish sauce, dry seasonings and herbs, tins of bamboo shoots, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, packet mixes, condiments, stock cubes, dried beans and legumes, olive oil, super-food powders, protein powders / supplements, clean living foods and other similar products.

Point of Note: Cooking Oil of any kind is expensive in Jamaica.

Pharmacuetical and First-Aid Supplies: Pharmacists in Jamaica must get paid commission, because invariably they recommend and prescribe the most expensive brands, instead of showing you the generic non-branded options. The cost of the simplest items will make you consider if you really need it.

I would highly recommend packing yourself a box of first-aid items, as outlined in the list above so you aren’t caught out when in a mini-crisis.

Homewares and Soft Furnishings: The majority of items made from fabric are either cheap imported Chinese goods, or expensive international versions. One towel can cost almost the same as a ‘bale of towels’ overseas, you could buy two or more bed-sets or blankets for the same price as one, curtains and nets are in a similar position.

Pots, pans, cutlery and utensils, in fact all kitchen supplies, one word to describe… Expensive.

Hurricane Supplies: All and sundry on the list above is expensive in Jamaica.

School Supplies: You can get cheap pens and pencils in Jamaica, in stores like Bashco, but the rest of the items are pricey.

Toiletries: When you can buy nearly everything on the list above in a pound or dollar store, it seems rude not to bring them with you! Or you can expect to pay 2 to 4 times that price in Jamaica for the same item, if they stock your usual brand. There are

Clothes et all: Whilst a barrel full of clothes and accessories is going to cost you more tax, a few choice items will make someone’s day. Despite Jamaica’s tropical location the weather is changeable throughout the year, hot and overbearing,  rainy and humid, chilly and wet. So don’t just pack shorts, flip flops and swimsuits!

Anything different, or from overseas is revered in Jamaica and that includes random things like snow boots, which I have seen a couple of people wearing since the ‘winter’ kicked in over here!

I would recommend something a bit more practical though!

 

First Aid Kit

 

What Items are Prohibited or Restricted by Jamaican Customs for Personal Shipping?

Some items are prohibited and restricted from entering Jamaica, so don’t assume because you own it, or it is legal in your own country that it will be allowable in Jamaica. There are laws, rules and guidance about what items are prohibited from entering Jamaica.

The Jamaican Customs website states that Prohibited Items include:

  • Prohibited items are absolutely forbidden from entering Jamaica, some of which include:
  • Indecent and obscene prints
  • Indecent and obscene prints, paintings, photographs, cinematograph films, lithographs, engravings, books, cards or written communications or any indecent or obscene articles whether similar to the above or not and any    parcels, packages or packets having thereon, or on the cover thereof, any  words, marks or designs which are grossly offensive or of an indecent or obscene character.
  • Coin-base or counterfeit coin of any country.

The following and similar publications:

1. All publications of de Laurence Scott and Company of Chicago in the United States of America relating to divination, magic, cultism or supernatural arts.

2. All publications of the Red Star Publishing Company of    Chicago in the United States of America relating to divination, magic, cultism or supernatural arts.

Some meats, fish, dairy produce, seeds, sugar and other items are also restricted.

More Information: Jamaican Customs website has designed a supporting PDF outlining the goods it applies to if in doubt.

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Further Information About Shipping

We have plenty of guides about shipping a barrel or crate, or anything else for that matter. Check out our other posts to read the whole series on Shipping to Jamaica:

Sweet Jamaica Guides to Shipping

Want to know what a barrel is all about and where to get one? Read A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

Want to learn how to effectively pack a Barrel? Read How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica COMING SOON!

Want to learn the process involved in shipping in the senders country? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part One

Want to learn the process involved in collecting a shipment in Jamaica? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part Two

Want some additional information on Shipping to Jamaica? Read Sending a Barrel or Crate to Jamaica

 

Looking for a shipping quotation to Jamaica

 

Get More From Sweet Jamaica – Join Us Here…

Want to get updates on the move then join us…

FaceBook Page

Twitter feed @sweetjamaicajul 

Instagram

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

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

 




Sending a Crate or Barrel to Jamaica

Shipping Crate

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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Bless up, Jules

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Living in Jamaica Long Term

Have a Cool Day in Jamaica!

If you are thinking about moving to Jamaica then the information I have given in the last post to retirees about living in Jamaica is much the same as for those who are still at working age.  Many of the same principles exist in relation to setting up home overseas, although the amount of every day ‘freedom’ and commitments you have is different.

Although Jamaica may seem like an ideal place to live especially when you are fresh home from a brilliant vacation, the reality of living here is nothing like life in an all inclusive hotel. I do not necessarily means in terms of surroundings as there are many beautiful homes in Jamaica that are worthy of being shown off to others. I am talking about getting used to your new environment, the way things are done, and the totally different way of life you will be leading. By reading my full post at Retirement and Good Living you will get an insight on what to expect when choosing Jamaica as a retirement destination. If you want some more general tips about living in Jamaica, whether retired or not, this post will expand on the information already given.

Getting a Visa and Attaining Permanent Residence in Jamaica

There are different stipulations to being physically allowed to live permanently in Jamaica and there is a preference for Jamaican descendants and their spouses. Commonwealth citizens, those who have worked here and non-nationals that are classed as ‘aliens’ need to apply and wait for a longer period of time to get their ‘stay’ in order to fully retire or live here permanently; namely after 5 years of living here you can apply for Citizenship. Full information and guidance can be found at the Passport, Immigration, and Citizenship Agency (PICA) website.

Enjoying the Climate in Jamaica

Living in London for the majority of my life has afforded me first-hand experience of the four seasons in the U.K., of which the summer months never last long enough. If you have ever planned an outdoor event in northern Europe you will be more than aware of the risk of being ‘rained off’, as is the unpredictability of the summer. The long and oppressive weather can be debilitating and even more so for those who should be enjoying the freedom that retirement brings. Sitting in your house shivering in the wintery months is not a prospect that even the most patriotic person looks forward to when contemplating spending the rest of their life in colder climates.

However, the pace of life in Jamaica is more relaxed and things take longer than you are used to back home. But you will have more freedom to be outside in the sunshine, taking in the fresh air and soothing the eyes with views of the tropical, green and bountiful Jamaican scenery. In Jamaica they say each rainfall is ‘A Blessing’ as without this rainfall the verdant and lush greenery that makes up Jamaica’s topography wouldn’t be possible. If you are able to afford a little space why not think about raising a small raised bed vegetable patch, keeping a few egg laying chickens and keeping some fruiting trees, so that you can have your own organic fresh food right in your garden? All this is possible year round in Jamaica. Give it a try,  it’s fun, environmentally friendly and keeps you healthy too.

Living The Good Life in Jamaica

‘Ah! the Good Life!’ I can guarantee that your retirement years in Jamaica will herald the call of this beautiful statement of satisfaction far more than any freedom years lived in the UK, Canada or America. I appreciate that I can be over zealous with my ramblings about the weather in Jamaica, but have I mentioned that you have almost guaranteed sunshine 365 days of the year?! You can wile away the hours pottering about around the home and garden with a slip of clothing and flip flops on. Home bodies will enjoy these pursuits, plus you can paint, sew, garden, play an instrument, entertain friends, listen to music or just chill taking in the view, or napping in the shade. If you prefer to leave the house there are places to go and things to experience, especially if you live near one of the tourist haven towns.

The health and well-being of the body feels freer and supple in the warm weather and many aliments are eased. Jamaica is abundant in its access to fresh foods including meat, chicken, seafood and fruits and vegetables and the mind and body will also benefit from being nourished with this diet. The pace of life is more relaxed, you have more freedom to be outside in the sunshine, taking in the fresh air and soothing the eyes with views of the tropical, green and bountiful Jamaican scenery.

 

 

Will I be Safe Living in Jamaica?

I would advise reading the Jamaican Gleaner or Jamaican Observer for the ‘real story’ about what is happening in Jamaica. Some people may think that this is a proverbial ‘shooting myself in the foot’ moment, but whilst many countries try and hide the crime rate, Jamaica is very honest in its depiction of the reality of the island. But in truth if you read any local newspaper in your home town you will be horrified to learn about what is happening to your friends and neighbours.

After researching online I couldn’t find Jamaica listed in anyone of the numerous ‘top 10 dangerous places to live’ lists, as South America, Africa, the Middle East, Korea, Pakistan and even the USA (due to terrorist threats) amongst others were featured. Much of the crime rate is related to the poorer areas and mainly due to people taking revenge and gang crimes, which often do not have prior mediation. Life for the poorer people and the middle classes in Jamaica is a very different experience and dependent on where and how you choose to live in Jamaica, will impact on how much crime you are potentially exposed to.

Putting Down Roots in Jamaica

There are many lots of land and finished properties for sale all over Jamaica and it can be hard to choose where to live if you have no special connection with a parish or area. Many people with roots in Jamaica choose to buy land nearby to family members that have remained there, whilst others prefer to move away from their former compadres and live in virtual anonymity in another area. There are also many gated communities and schemes that aim to offer a secure environment and a sense of community when everyone has come from different places, but are more or less on the same page as far as income, means and status is concerned.

It would be advised to rent a property in the area that you plan to live so that you can immerse yourself in your new community and get a sense of how your life will change and if you are able to adapt to it. When moving anywhere new and especially more so when it is overseas, it takes a while to settle in and get used to the different way of life so be patient and give it your all. Take your time getting to know people and don’t judge a book by its cover, many people have been deceived by those who they thought they could trust the most, whilst the ordinary person gets overlooked and misjudged.

I have heard stories of people sending down money to Jamaica for their dream home to be built or secured, only to find the money has been frittered away through the hands of idle people. Please be sure to use a reputable Project Manager or builder and make sure that you are keeping up to date with what is going on if you are not able to be in the country to oversee things. You may be frustrated by the speed that things move in Jamaica or the amount of red tape involved, but with the correct processes carried out in the correct order you will be able to reach your home owning goals. Yes, it will be stressful, but it will pass and if you protect yourself it shouldn’t be any more stressful than if you were going through the same process in the country you are leaving.

Jamaican Property
Jamaican Property

 

Driver, Don’t Stop At All!

Jamaican’s drive on the left of the road most of the time, but sometimes it is on the right when they overtake into an impossibly tight space. This can also be accompanied by a blind corner and a hump back bridge, but hey at least the high volume music keeps your gasps from being audible! O.K not everyone drives like this in Jamaica, but you will find that a lot of people do so be aware. If you do take public transport only get in a vehicle that has a red licence plate as they are insured and registered as passenger vehicles. You will still get crammed in but the new rules and regulations are making it more comfortable and safer for passengers even if you do pay a few more dollars.

If you have the means I would recommend that you purchase a vehicle for yourself as at least you can drive at the speed and gait that makes you and your passengers feel comfortable. You will need to drive ‘defensively’ on the road, that is to say be alert when driving, always use your mirrors and keenly watch and anticipate other driver’s actions. It is perfectly normal to blow the horn for any number of reasons and is recommended when driving around blind corners on narrow roads and when overtaking a vehicle that has suddenly pulled over to the side of the road.

Settling In To Your New Home in Jamaica

You may find that it takes a while to settle in, but give things time. There will be a flurry of activity that includes securing somewhere to live, preparing to leave, packing up your worldly belongings, saying your goodbyes and actually arriving in your new home only to unpack and organise again. Phew! Anyone would flop down in a chair after going through all that! As you sit there some of you may be thinking, now what? I would highly recommend that the easiest way of giving your new home and environs the best chance of giving you back what you want out of life, is to go out there and get it. How do you expect to make new friends and have dates in the diary if you shut yourself away in the perfect bubble you have created for yourself?

As I have described in my Guest Post on Retirement and Good Living in the Pursuits and Activities in Jamaica section, there are many ways of keeping yourself busy in Jamaica. But if you are still struggling then may I suggest that you join a local group for anything that interests or appeals to you, just turn up, smile, talk and be yourself. I am sure you will soon sieve the wheat from the chaff and find some like-minded people to spend time with. There are churches, community events, charities and local groups who would be glad of your time and assistance if you are willing to reach out to them. If you want somewhere to dress up, look in the daily newspapers for exhibitions, trade fairs, talks and other events going on at venues around the country and get involved. You will be glad you did and will relish your new life in paradise.

Give Your New Life in Jamaica a Chance!

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more about Retirement in Jamaica, check out my Guest Post on the Retirement and Good Living website.

Thinking of moving to Jamaica

Retirement in Jamaica

Beautiful Jamaican Gated Community

I would like to thank the lovely Simone from ‘Retirement and Good Living’, who asked me to write a guest post about retirement in Jamaica. When writing the content for the post it made me think more seriously about what I intend to do with myself when I have to make this choice. If you too are pondering on your retirement, then you may be hard pushed to decide what to do with these ‘freedom years’. The choice of where and how to live is ever-increasing, but with some good impartial advice you will be well on your way to getting the best out of this time of your life.

The ‘Retirement and Good Living’ website has a portfolio of information ranging from financial and health advice to the more fun aspects of retirement locations and what to do with your free time, such as volunteering, knitting jumpers for penguins and other pursuits! Be sure to stop by and take in ‘The Top 10…’ and ‘The Latest On….’ section for up to date information on all the best parts of retiring.

Jamaica has a lot of offer to retiree’s and my guest post gives you the scoop on retirement in Jamaica. You will find full details on a variety of topics such as The Cost of Living, Property Prices, How to Manage on a State Pension, Where to Live, What to do, Transportation, the weather and much more. Stop by and check out the other great features on the Retirement and Good Living website while you are there.

I will give you a small taster of the Guest Post about Retirement in Jamaica that is featured on the Retirement and Good Living website…. but you will have to visit the site for the full post!

Jamaican Fruits and Vegetables
Jamaican Fruits and Vegetables

Pensions and Retirement Age

Living and working in the UK all my life I have witnessed the retirement and pension age steadily rising, with experts claiming that I will have to wait until I am 67 or 68 years old to receive full state pension. When I do receive my State Pension it may equate to between £84.45 and £110.15 a week, which I would be expected to live on in London…. Mmm! I’m not sure that would be possible. The facts are that even as a home owner in the UK, with no mortgage, the cost of living is high and it is viable that the figure I would receive each week would be the same as my monthly heating bill alone.

Thoughts of the huddled, hunched up figures moving around padded with clothes,  their scrunched up ‘sea faring’ face turned away from the cold air, that I had seen in London last month, crossed my mind. Brrrr! There are many pensioners in the UK suffering hardship and it is now becoming more common for this group to pool their resources and buy a property with their grown up children and their families in order to live a more refined life in retirement. Plans for holidays in the sun become more and more enticing, but it is always back to the cold for the majority of the time…

My full post on Retirement and Good Living can be read here…

Thinking of moving to Jamaica

Sweet Jamaica interview on ExpatBlog.com

Sweet Jamaica

I had an interesting email earlier this month from the lovely Erin, Content Editor for EasyExpat.com inviting me to be the next interviewee in their great series of expat interviews. My ‘Sweet Jamaica’ blog is listed on their sister website BlogExpat.com which features great blogs from Expats from all over the world sharing their experiences of moving overseas.

If you have wanderlust or are planning to emigrate to another country then an Expat Website can be a great place to start as it features impartial life experiences of persons already living overseas. EasyExpat is one such website that has informative Expat Guides,  Forums, Classifieds, Job Listings & More. If you have experiences or queries about living abroad, then get involved on the website as  it enables the community and information sharing to grow. The website can be found at: www.easyexpat.com

They also have a BlogExpat Directory: www.blogexpat.com which features Blogs by Expats and the Expat Interviews can be found at: www.interviews.blogexpat.com There is a section that features Expat Author Interviews who have written books, which can be found at: www.books.blogexpat.com

And last, but not least they also have an Expat Services Site & Guide: www.expat-quotes.com Where you can find companies and professional services for all the steps of your relocation abroad. They have specialised services and products to answer your needs for managing your expatriation. You can apply for information and free quotes online and make the best decisions for your move.

This is my Interview…

 

From London to Ocho Rios: Sweet Jamaica From London to Ocho Rios: Sweet Jamaica

Erin Erin  Date 23 January, 2014 11:18

Sweet Jamaica Hi readers and thank you for taking the time to read this interview. My name is Jules, I am originally from London, but now I live in the sunny and beautiful Caribbean. I have the pleasure of calling Ocho Rios, or Ochi (as we call it), Jamaica my home – the land of wood and water.

1. Why did you move abroad? From the age of 15 I knew I wouldn’t spend all my adult life in the UK, but I didn’t know where I would move to. I love London, but I think living in London can become a trap where you are always pushing for a ‘bigger and better’ everything, whilst quietly thinking ‘will I over work myself before I am able to reach retirement age?’ From the first time I visited Jamaica I fell in love with the freedom, possibility and opportunity on the island and knew I had to find a means someway, somehow, to call it home.

2. How do you make a living?  I do not currently work in Jamaica as there is some bureaucracy to getting a work visa and setting up a business, if you do not have any ancestor or marriage concessions. But, I am in the process of dealing with it and I have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. I have run a construction business in the UK for the last ten years and I have my blog www.sweetjamaica.co.uk and an upcoming business ‘LonJam Trading’ which keep me busy for the time being and enable me to ‘pay the bills’ over here. I also help with the local community, farmers group and my adopted schools in rural St. Ann and am also in the early stages of setting up a charity over here too.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how? I am really close to my family and love to keep in touch. It is actually cheaper for me to call the UK than the other way around as there is a great international plan that Digicel offers to call UK landlines, so I tend to do the calling! I usually talk to my Mum every couple of days to catch up with the goings on in London and the business as she stays up late and the time difference doesn’t bother her. I speak to my sisters at least once a week and my friends a few times a month.

To be honest, I have tried Skype but the connection is terrible and it actually becomes an annoying experience instead of fun! I do fly back to London a few times a year as well though and this enables me to catch up and sort myself out before heading back to my beloved Jamaica.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Jamaica?  Being able to experience and immerse myself in a different country and all that it has to offer. Plus, as I was raised, educated and have work / business experience in London, I have been exposed to alternative ways of doing things. This has enabled me to gain a skill set that puts me in a position to encourage and mentor people who haven’t had that opportunity, so that they may realise their full potential and entrepreneurial spirit too. Tackling environmental and recycling issues, sustainable living and alternate farming practices are also of great interest to me and in many ways they are in an embryonic stage in Jamaica, this also gives me maneuverability to get involved and help make a difference in a country that I love so much.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Jamaica?  Sometimes feeling like all eyes are on me as people are interested to ‘pree’ (look and study) me, so you can lose a sense of anonymity. Also some people will assume things about you from things they have heard about living overseas, and others will offer you ‘tourist’ or uptown prices. I would also like to clarify that people from ‘foreign’ (abroad/overseas) do not have an ATM machine in their navel that gives them money whenever they need it, like most people, we have to work hard to earn money to live! I do find that ‘busting a likkle patois’ tends to make most assumptions about me and the higher prices disappear though!

6. What do you miss most? Aside from thinking about my family and friends a lot and missing out on special occasions with them, I am really happy living in Jamaica so don’t miss much about London. I always wanted to move abroad and I just love Jamaica and all it has to offer. The food over here is delicious and there is so much to do, plus the gorgeous weather is always a massive bonus.

There are times when I do miss the shops in the UK, as good quality items are expensive in Jamaica and on the flip side I miss routing around the £1 shops for bargains!  I sometimes crave foods, such as salt and vinegar walkers, party rings, flour tortilla, or deli foods (cheese, hummus, sundried tomatoes, olives, and pesto) which you cannot buy here, or if you can they are at extortionate prices. Plus other things which I wouldn’t normally eat on a regular basis when back in London…. Such as this evening I made home-made pasta sauce and spaghetti (except after opening the packet I realised it wasn’t spaghetti, but macaroni that was as long as spaghetti – weird!)

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home? I had the advantage of coming here with Jamaican friends the first time I visited on holiday, so we left the shiny hotels behind and stayed with friends and relatives in their homes. Therefore, I immediately immersed myself in the local lifestyle, culture and community and as Jamaican’s are so friendly I always had someone to talk to.

I must admit on the first trip here the language barrier was sometimes frustrating and other times hilarious as we tried to decipher what each other were saying, especially when in the rural areas where they talk faster and their accents are stronger. But, again I took my time, I people watched, I listened keenly and I learnt the local dialect, so that I could converse with people from all walks of life and feel a part of everything. It is also recommended that you learn the ‘going rate’ for things in Jamaica and familiarise yourself with the currency, so you’re not fumbling around when spending.

Five years later when I decided to try living here I moved to a busier area where I didn’t know anyone, to really test myself and see how I coped on my own in Jamaica. This took me away from my comfort zone and the familiarity, but it forced me to go out there and meet people. Luckily for me I have made friends, some of which are my neighbours who live in the same complex as me, but it took a while, so be patient! If you are wanting to mingle in a less in your face way than going everywhere solo, I would recommend attending church, the gym / sporting activities, joining local community groups, or volunteering with local schools, charities, orphanages or environmental groups. You will be amongst like-minded individuals and will easily find kindred spirits to share your time with in Jamaica, so get creative and think ‘outside of the box’.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?  Jamaicans are very direct and have a custom of giving ‘pet names’ (nicknames) to each other, this is often very literal to the individual’s looks or personality traits and would probably be classed as being politically incorrect in the UK. So don’t be surprised if you hear someone being called Fish Head, Knock-Knee, One Foot Man, Blacks, Miss Chin, Indian, and Whitey and so on. However, far from being used as a derogatory insult, it is deemed to be a term of endearment and is not to be taken offensively! To give example, when in the UK a Jamaican meeting his cousins for the first time said ‘What’s up Fatta’ much to the disgust of the rather plump relative. When his mother scolded him afterwards, he retorted ‘What should I call her slimmer?!’, as he genuinely didn’t mean any disrespect and didn’t know why she was so upset!

Jamaican’s much to their credit are very inclusive of all people, and you will see all walks of life included and socialising together. They do not objectify or disassociate from anyone who is less fortunate than themselves, or who for example, has a disability, although many have homophobic tendencies. It is not uncommon to see the young and old mingling together and you will often see examples of this at night spots, or social gatherings where you will find them huddled together playing dominoes, or you will see a man in a wheelchair getting a wild dance from a fit, sexy woman!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?  That Jamaica is still living in the dark ages and is full of Ganga smoking Rasta’s and / or criminals who want to sell you drugs or harm you! OK it is different to London in many ways, and there are problems here and poverty, but Jamaica is up-to-date with what is going on in the world and is full of mannerly, decent, hard-working, inventive, God fearing individuals. We have internet access, cable TV, the latest gadgets and technology, tools and new cars over here. Plus, all the usual things are on offer over here such as cinema, theatre, stage shows, night clubs, bars, good restaurants, attractions, horse racing, car/motorbike racing, cricket and other sports, museums, art gallery and installations, shopping malls, beaches, basically something to suit all tastes, budgets and age brackets.  There are excellent education facilities, universities and many highly educated and successful people, living in beautiful residences with all the trappings of a westernised culture. To assume that all Jamaicans are illiterate, violent, non-achievers would be a great disrespect and underestimation of all the hard working Jamaican’s over here.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life? I was quite surprised at the cost of living in Jamaica when I first came here. Food prices are comparable or higher than in London, for example I can buy 5 plantain in London for £1.00 or $150.00, but it costs $80.00 for 1 plantain in Jamaica! Water and electricity rates are high and I have to wonder how many of the poorer people and business owners here cope with this expenditure. Electrical items, cars and all imported goods (except cheap Chinese goods) are very expensive and much more so than London. But overall my living expenses are lower than in London and I live an enjoyable, but not excessive lifestyle. Like London you can live high class here, 5 star all the way if you want to go all out, but at the same time you can live more economically if that suits you too.

11. What advice would you give other expats?  First and foremost I would say that Jamaicans are very proud, they can be very direct when talking to you and aren’t shy to express themselves. Remember that we are all people and have the same bodily functions, so you are not better than anyone else – you will be setting yourself up to fail and may receive feelings of contempt if you portray yourself as better than others. Get out there and experience the people and the culture, for they will become your friends, colleagues, neighbours and fellow community members.  Speak to strangers politely and formerly, as it traditional to use the prefix ‘Miss’, ‘Aunty’ or ‘Mr’ and so on, especially when speaking to those who are older than you. Don’t get a false sense of security, or lock yourself up indoors because you are in another country. I would always advise that using common sense, not getting involved in matters that don’t concern you and not being too ‘out there’ as this will keep you out of most discrepancies. What we would class as ‘chit chat’ in the UK, some Jamaican’s would find as being nosey, so don’t get all up in people’s business or ask too many questions about their personal life.

From the first time I visited Jamaica on holiday in 2006, I made it my point of duty to check out the local EVERYTHING as I knew I wanted to live here! If you are planning to move to Jamaica, I would advise coming here first, live amongst the locals and see if you can manage it. It is important to check out different areas and find out about the local amenities, as at some point you will need food, household and personal items, utilities, a bank, post office and so on, so it makes sense to find out if all you need is on offer. Gated communities offer many people peace of mind, whilst living in more remote places suits others – talk to people who have a connection with the area, or other expats.

Expat websites and forums such as www.blogexpat.com and www.easyexpat.com/forums/ are a great impartial way to glean information about the neighbourhood and get the inside scoop on living there.

Oh, and make sure you buy or bring plenty of sealable containers to store food stuffs, as Jamaican insects and creatures are very wily and will find a way to taste your favourite foods and invest in stainless steel as everything else rusts really quickly!

12. When and why did you start your blog? I started my blog in 2012 as a way of sharing my experiences of living in Jamaica.

This is my interview which was originally featured on BlogExpat.com, the original can be found here…

If you enjoyed this interview and my blog then please take one minute to click here and vote for ‘Sweet Jamaica’ blog. Thanks, safe travels 🙂

Sweet Jamaica
Sweet Jamaica

 

Thinking of moving to Jamaica

Gated Luxury Communities in Jamaica

Gated Community Jamaica

What could be more ideal than to have your luxury Jamaican home ready to move into and in a secure and well-kept gated community? Maybe all is not as it seems in some of these ‘man-made’ communities as I discovered after staying with a returning resident friend in their beautiful home. I was amazed to hear about the comings and goings, politics, back-handers and more, it was easily enough drama for a Jamaican Housewives T.V. show to be made all about it!

I will spill and give you the best high(low)lights, but I will keep the development name and location a secret to protect my lovely friend from any more unfortunate incidences. Please note that this article is indicative of one individual persons experience of living in a gated development in Jamaica as told to me over two visits to their home.  For the purposes of the article I shall call my friend *’Ashley’.

I will admit to sometimes browsing through the adverts for gated communities in Jamaica, scanning the prices and looking wistfully at the beautiful properties imagining living there. But after my short stay in a gated residence my views have changed somewhat and the rose-tinted spectacles have been somewhat removed!

What are Gated communities All About?

Many people who dream of having a second home, or return back to live full-time in Jamaica decide to buy on or off plan from one of the developers that are springing up all over the island. This is usually for the Peace of Mind of:

  • living in a secure gated community.
  • not having to manage a building project whilst being overseas.

The developers show images and plans for residents living in luxury homes, on perfect streets with beautiful surroundings and communal areas for swimming, eating and meeting up. But the reality of the development that I visited was very different as it s-l-o-w-l-y filled up, residents started to come and go and the excitement of the initial opening  and interaction of the community drifted away. Some houses were taken by international music artists, whilst other houses were eventually bought, but left unkempt and empty.

What to Exect When You Move Into Your Gated Community

If you visit the site before purchasing a property you should be shown the ‘pegs’ that lay out the parameters of the Plots, including your garden area – make a photographic and signed record of this using fixed objects, such as, a lamp-post or fire hydrant to help accurately depict the location. Just in case they have magically moved decreasing the exterior land size after you have put down a deposit or paid in full.

The exterior of the house is unfinished meaning extra money was required for:

  • The driveway was a plain concrete screed, wide enough for one vehicle, and which stopped about 18″ (1.5ft) short of the ‘porch/front verandah’. You were free to tile, pave (and so on), increase the size to a double car width (eliminating your front garden) and ‘join’ it seamlessly to the front of the property.
  • The house has no physical boundaries present. That is to say there are no fences or gateways to the houses, creating private areas. Boundaries must be put up at a designated height and style to keep a uniform look.
  • The garden only consists of a lawn. You must plant your own trees, plants and shrubs.
  • Wooden carports and balconies can be added to the properties to match the style of the others already present on the site.
  • Other verandah type structures are permitted but must have the same type roofing as the main buildings.
  • The ‘grounds’ of the gated community are not overly planted and residents were gaining permission from the Office to add plants and trees.
  • The ‘corner’ properties had grass verges that some residents ‘captured’ and planted up to create larger front garden areas.

Who Lives in Gated Communities?

Jamaica has a melting pot of residents buying into the properties on gated developments, but most are bought by professionals or wealthy globe trotters. ‘Ashley’ commented that when they first moved in, primarily returning residents from the UK or USA bought up the properties. After 3 years of living there the shift of residents has moved to mainly Chinese and Indian business owners and professionals, with a smattering of American and European people joining them. This made distinct micro communities within the development and these different cultures kept themselves to themselves dissipating the ‘we are one’ village feel and making some residents feel isolated and unwelcome.

There is a universal hierarchy to the development too, with snobbery, constant one-upmanship and reverence given to residents that are doctors, lawyers and respected business owners over residents that worked as tradespeople or care workers. Persons who were deemed to be single, or non-married where also held with somewhat contempt too by the others. This favouritism can run to the point of preferential treatment from the office staff and the snubbing and belittling of the unpopular or unwanted residents by those wanting to be ‘in with the in crowd’.

Unfair Play and Back-Handers

One of the things that most amazed me about the development and ‘Ashley’s’ experience was that there were so many incidents of theft.  Unbeknown to ‘Ashley’ the Sales Office staff did not hand over all the sets of keys for the property when they first moved in.  So, every time ‘Ashley’ left Jamaica the Sales Staff were letting themselves into the house and basically helping themselves to whatever they wanted which, included pots, pans, other assorted kitchen items, bedding and even the shower curtain; which was what eventually gave the game away as it was so obviously missing and drew suspicions.

A garden hose, various small trees, palms, flowers and other planting was physically dug out of the ground and stolen from the front garden after Ashley bought it and bedded it in. Other established plants and trees were hacked by neighbours who were later oblivious to it ever happening despite it being blindly obvious who had done it.

When tradespeople came to do work on the house they rifled through draws and helped themselves to household items and bits and pieces of tools and other materials they could make use of. Jewellery was stolen right from under their nose, when some post building cleaning was being carried out in the house.

Poor workmanship was carried out when making repairs or snagging and it took ages and a multitude of missed appointments before the tradespeople turned up, if at all. This was potentially because the tradespeople seemed to all be friends of the Office Staff and back-handers seemed to be prevalent in ensuring the work was handed out to their preferred suppliers; even if this meant severe delays caused by the (over) workload. There was even an incident of catching one of the Office Staff watching porn when they claimed to be too busy to leave the office and do something within the grounds of the development!

As the development offered the service of finding tenants for certain owners and investors, there were incidences of properties being let out by the Office Staff without the knowledge of the owners and without them getting payment for it.

Piles of rubbish, garden waste and pruned trees would turn up on the grass verge outside ‘Ashley’s’ house which other residents have dumped and the Office Staff would make to complaints about it, despite it being nothing to do with them.

One of the other residents damaged ‘Ashley’s’ property and when it was reported to the Police it was ‘paid off’ and the incident never had a proper statement taken in order for it to stand to trial.

There were thriving clubs to join when the development first opened and a lively bar and restaurant, unfortunately three years down the line these facilities have closed down or diminished and the micro-communities have their own events and gatherings.

Things to Remember…

Security is one of the main reasons for living on a gated development, but sometimes the devil is among those who are supposed to be looking out for you. Change the locks when you move in and save yourself the headache of unwanted and uninvited persons from entering your home.

If you are to be away from the property for extended periods of time be aware that the house will not be ‘aired’ and the heat generated in the property will be immense, these factors can create all types of unwanted problems. Insect infestations, especially ants are common as they have all the freedom and uninterrupted time to make your home theirs, eating away at wooden areas and destroying the beauty of it. Your furniture will also swell and shrink in the changing temperatures of the property, which can even cause a 10ft solid wood dining table to warp and fabrics to ‘burn’ in the sun.

Be careful who you trust to come into your home to carry out work, or to manage it for you. Keep valuables LOCKED AWAY. Notice the bag that the person carries with them, is it noticeably fuller when they leave?! Try to supervise or get a trusted friend or family member to supervise them.

If you want to get on with your fellow residents try not to be too overtly anything! Most people like people who just agree with the masses and don’t cause too much drama. If you want to live peacefully try and pick your arguments (very carefully!) and only make people aware of you when it is really necessary.

It can get lonely if you come to Jamaica on your own. Despite the beautiful views and freedom that comes with chilling out in your own oasis, it is nice to have someone to share it with. Try and encourage friends and family to visit, if you don’t have someone special in your life to share all that Jamaica has to offer. Or get out there and make some new friends…

To Finish…

I am not dismissing the value of living in a gated community as to some the experience can be fulfilling and enjoyable, giving them the home they always wanted in beautiful Jamaica without the headache of having to manage the building phase from overseas. You also get the benefit of 24 hour security, grounds maintenance, on-site facilities and the companionship of the other residents, all being well.

If you aren’t planning on being there all year round do you really care enough to worry about whether you are keeping up with the Jones’s? Obviously theft and criminal damage and two things that you do not want to come up against, especially in the so-called confines of a secure development, but you can help to limit the risks by being vigilant, changing locks, keeping them locked and keeping things behind closed (locked!) doors when not in use.

The drive of some people (including me) to live and be in Jamaica, even if it is for extended visits at a time, can be so powerful we would put up with almost anything just to be here. My advice to you if Jamaica really is your feel good place than just enjoy yourself and chill out a bit when you are here. Yes, there are loads of things to really get on your nerves and things are done differently and at a different pace, but don’t give up your dreams due to someone elses small mindedness. If you let things get on top of you and give up going back overseas feeling disheartened it will put a bad taste in your mouth about coming back. Look on the bright side, bad stuff happens no matter what side of the planet we are on, I just prefer to be depressed and disheartened wearing shorts, eating fried fish, rice and peas with a cool natural juice and a beautiful view!

Peace – I Love Jamaica!

Looking for a gated community in Jamaica

 

The Art of Packing a Barrel Part Two…

Kingston wharves

The Art of Packing a Barrel Part Two… If you want to ship to Jamaica, there are eight easy steps to clearing the articles at the wharf.

Jamaica Wharf Process

After much anticipation my barrels have arrived at Kingston Wharf and I cannot wait to see them again. I decided to get the barrels shipped to Kingston rather than Montego Bay and collect them myself, as not only was it cheaper, more critically it was faster, shaving off at least an extra 10 days waiting time for the ship to offload at Kingston and then make its way to Montego Bay for its last unloading.  As I was desperate to get my things as soon as possible and I was staying half way between the two ports I decided it made sense and was just as easy to go to Kingston as Mo’ Bay to retrieve my much wanted belongings that I had bid farewell to in London on 17th August 2012.

There are 8 (eight) easy steps to follow for clearing a barrel in Jamaica…

1 – Arrange Transportation to the Wharf – ensure the vehicle is large enough to hold the items you intend to pick up. Remember your I.D., TRN Card and shipping paperwork.

2 – Make your way to your Shipping Agent Office which will be located near to the appropriate Wharf, pay your Landing Fees and get your Bill of Lading. Make sure you know which Wharf to go to.

3 – Head to the Wharf, go to the Main Building hand in your paperwork and pay your handling charge.

4 – Go to the Manifest Building hand in your paperwork and wait for more paperwork and directions of which berth to attend to clear your goods.

5 – Once at the berth number, hand in your paperwork and wait for your name to be called. On entering the berth you will be asked to unpack your barrels for customs to look inside and value the contents.

6 – Proceed to the Customs Cashiers Desk where they will finalise the value of the items and give you a Customs Import Entry Form (C78X).

7 – Take the Customs Import Entry Form (C78X) to the Payments Office, pay the required fee and keep your receipt safe.

8 – Show the receipt to the Gate Pass Office and wait to receive a Gate Pass. Go back outside and find your driver, approach the gate and show the paperwork and the driver will also need to show their Driving Licence.  Approach the loading bay near to the berth, show your paperwork and load your items into your vehicle. Drive back to the main exit, show paperwork and finally leave the wahrf.

How to Clear a Barrel – Step One

The paperwork that I carried with me to Jamaica from Kingsley’s Shipping in the UK had an expected date of arrival printed on it as 24th September 2012, and it instructed you to telephone the office if you had not heard from them by that date. I was surprised to get a telephone call from Kingsley’s Shipping, Kingston Offices on the 21st September advising me that the barrels were ready for collection, before I had the chance to call them. The staff were very friendly and polite and gave me the address to come to in Kingston to collect the ‘Bill of Lading’ paperwork for clearing the barrels at the wharf.

I chartered a lovely, experienced driver Fenton and his mini bus for $9,000 (including Gas) through a recommendation from a friend, to drive me to Kingston Wharf and return with the 3 barrels. Fenton arrived as requested at 5.00am before ‘the Cock(erel) had taken off his draws’ as my good friend would have said and we set out in the early morning darkness for Kingston clutching my personal identification, TRN Card, the paperwork from Kingsley’s Shipping, my C15 form from the airport and receipts for the majority of the items I had shipped in the barrels, as proof of the cost I had paid for them in the UK.

We headed through Ocho Rios and travelled east towards St.Mary, which was a more scenic and traffic free route instead of the more familiar journey through Fern Gully and Flat Bridge. Swiftly driving along the deserted A3 Highway we quickly reached Ian Fleming International Airport (formerly Boscobel Aerodrome) and continued eastward towards to Orcabessa.

Turning off the Highway and heading through the interior of the country as the sun was coming up the beauty of Jamaica was revealed in the lush green canopies of trees and the numerous hills, gulleys and riversides we passed on the journey. Our route passed Stoney Hill on the outskirts of Kingston which had a lushly covered hillside which looked serene and magnificent against the dense forest trees that covered most of the other peaks.

Step Two

We reached Kingston and made our way to Kingsley’s Shipping Offices at Shop 13B, 14-16 First Street, Newport West, just before 8.00am where I found they were open and welcoming despite it being before the listed opening hours of 8.30am. The staff were very friendly and professional and unusually for Jamaica they worked quickly and efficiently in getting your paperwork ready for you. I handed over my paperwork from their UK offices, ID, TRN Card and my C15 Form and they gave me the ‘Bill of Lading’ which is an essential piece of paperwork to carry to the wharf. The office was clean and had a free iced water dispenser and chairs for you to rest in whilst they dealt with the paperwork. There was a $5,400.00 fee to pay Kingsley’s Shipping for landing fees for the 3 barrels. Within about 15 minutes I was handed a small piece of card with instructions of what to do next and was directed to the Wharf.

Step Three

Back in the mini-bus Fenton drove us round to the Wharf’s main gate and paid a fee to one of the unofficial car park attendants to park up outside the compound where vendors sold drinks and patties. Only 1 person (whose name is on the paperwork) was allowed to enter the compound in order to process the shipment. After showing my ‘Bill of Lading’ paperwork and ID to the friendly but officious guard I was directed to Kingsport Building which was clean and air-conditioned to the point of wanting to wear a sweater. Waiting in the line of people to reach one of the cashiers I noticed that I was the only white person in the building and was drawing some attention. I waited no more than 10 minutes before reaching the front desk and had a $2,060.00 bill to pay to the wharf for Handling Charges for the 3 barrels. I noticed the receipt had recorded that the ship had arrived at the wharf on the 18th September and that I would have been liable for paying Storage Fees had the barrels not been collected by the 29th September.

Step Four

After leaving the Kingsport Building you are directed to the Manifest Building which is a short walk away; anyone who has managed to accompany you thus far is instructed to wait on long wooden benches as you have to show your paperwork and receipt for the Wharf’s Handling Charges and are guided through a guarded carousel gateway. Before you reach the Manifest Building entrance you pass some public toilets on your right-hand side which are cavernous and a little foreboding to enter on your own, but they were clean.

Once in the building you join the commercial or personal shipping line to show your paperwork to the courteous Customs Officers where they check your paperwork against their records and tell you the Berth where your goods are being stored. There is a small shop in the Manifest Building right by the entrance that sells hot and cold drinks, bagged snacks, delicious patties, bun and cheese and so on, you may find the sustenance welcoming (or at the very least a cold drink) as you may have a long wait to clear your goods.

Shipping DocumentsTax Jamaica

 Step Five

Once out of the Manifest Building you show your paperwork and go through another guarded carousel gateway, where they direct you deeper into the belly of the wharf to the Berth Number that holds your goods (which is printed on the document). The woman guard here was especially friendly and was the first many at the wharf to ask if I could carry her back to London with me! Crossing the busy wharf road and turning right I was amazed at the size of the vehicles that were traversing the roadways and that were capable of carrying and driving with a huge container in its pincer like arms. The walkway on the other side is at a raised level from the roadway, which not only means persons can safely walk away from the formidable road traffic but it also makes it easier for loading of goods into vehicles.

Once you reach the Berth Number you hand your documents to the guard sitting behind a locked gate and wait on long wooden benches for your name to be called once the porters have located your barrels. This is where the goodies bought in the little shop in the Manifest Building come in handy…. By the time I reached this point it was coming up to 9.00am and there were only about 5 other people waiting before me.

A woman who was waiting was commenting that she was returning back the States tomorrow and had been in Jamaica for 6 weeks. She had sent 2 barrels and when she came to collect them only 1 could be found which contained clothes and gifts, the other one containing foodstuffs could not be found. After much confusion at the wharf she was instructed to go home and wait to be contacted when the other 1 was located. Needless to say the wharf called her two days before she was leaving the island to come and collect the other barrel as it had now been found, but she was annoyed that she had to buy foodstuffs whilst on the island despite spending the time and effort to ship them.

It took about 15 minutes for my name to be called where I was ushered through the gate and directed to a table where my 3 barrels were all lined up. I have to admit I was relieved to see all three barrels and was encouraged to see that they had managed to get all the way from London intact.  The friendly and charming Customs Officials called over a wisely (but strong and fit) porter and he unfastened the lock that Kingsley’s Shipping had put on back in London with a huge pair of pliers. The same porter ‘helped’ to unpack the barrels by taking out about half the items in two of the barrels and just the ‘top layer’ of the last barrel setting them out on the long stainless steel table.

The Customs Officers quickly looked over the items already laid out and asked me to continue to empty the barrels; once I had nearly emptied the first two barrels they came back over. I was asked to open a large plastic container that I had stored dishes and glasses in and had to pull out a large box containing a paddling pool for closer inspection. Generally anything in a box or carton was of interest to them and when they spied a saucepan handle (pot handle) they verbally noted that I had a pot set. They also asked about the bottle of Hennessey and Champagne that I had listed on the C15 form, but when I pulled out the bubble wrapped bottles they didn’t seem overly interested as I assured them there was only one of each. I showed them the receipt for the paddling pool and they noted the cost.

None of the barrels were completely emptied although they did look inside all 3 vessels. Unfortunately I had a few casualties as one cup handle broke off and the two champagne glasses I had sent had both broken despite packing them in bubble wrap, but at least they went together!

Step Six

Once the Customs officials were satisfied I was instructed to re-pack my barrels and a very good-looking strapping porter came over and helped me to re-pack them which ended up with me standing on top of the barrels in order to fit the lids back on, much to the pleasure of the staff! Once repacked you go to the Berth Office, hand in your paperwork to the Customs Cashiers with the Customs Officers notes scribbled on it and they look up the items on the internet to check the value of the goods. As my TRN number was not on the system I had to go upstairs to the Supervisors Office where I was again dealt with by friendly and efficient staff.

Back downstairs, it took about 20 minutes to be handed back my paperwork which held the magic number on it… the amount of tax payable to clear my barrels. I searched the document with bated breath and was super relieved to see that I only had to pay $6,014.45 for all 3 barrels which was much less than the advised $18,000 ($6,000 per barrel) I was told in the UK. Please be aware the C15 Form was effective in lowering the amount of tax payable; therefore if you ship and do not have the Form or ship to someone else, you may be liable for higher tax.

Step Seven

Take the Customs Import Entry Form (C78X) to the Payments Office which is at the end of the walkway near to where you cross the wharf road, make your payment and get a receipt for your Tax Payment. Keep this safe!

Step Eight

Take the Receipt to the Gate Pass Office which is back up near where the barrels are located and hand in your paperwork to get a Gate Pass, so your driver and vehicle can enter the wharf and load your goods. Walk back outside the way you came in through the Main Entrance showing your paperwork at all the guarded gateways and find your driver. You are now free to approach the main vehicle entrance to the wharf, where again your ever-growing amount of documents are checked along with the driving licence of the driver. Drive Slowly (there is a 5mph speed restriction) to the berth where the barrels were checked and park up near to the loading bays. Show your paperwork to the guards, who stamp it and instruct a porter to bring the barrels to your vehicle. The wisely porter came back and loaded the barrels into the mini-bus and as I anticipated asked if I had anything for him and I slipped him a note.

Once the barrels were loaded we approached the main entrance and the Customs officials checked how many items we had in the vehicle against the documents, checked the driving licence and then took away all the paperwork except the receipts. We were finally clear to leave the compound and head back home to unpack the barrels. By just after 10.00am we had left the wharf and eagerly stopped at a patty shop before driving back home. Once we got out of the hustle and bustle of Kingston we stopped and got a cold beer and one of the bars and vendors near to Stony Hill before reaching back home near Ochi (Ocho Rios) by lunch time.

What I Thought About Kingston Wharf and Shipping Barrels

Following numerous horror stories about collecting goods from the wharf I was filled with anticipation about how long it was going to take and what the experience was going to be like collecting the barrels myself. In reflection, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and it was nowhere near as tiresome as everyone had told me. When I mentioned this to friends they retorted that Christmas and Easter were a different matter…

Arriving at the wharf early was key to my success in this operation as it meant  I beat the queues, try it yourself and you will be glad you did. Everyone at the wharf was professional but polite, friendly and (mostly) happy and were intrigued by my presence there. Bring proof of purchase in the form of receipts to show to the customs officers so that they can value your goods correctly. The best tactic in these circumstances is to be friendly and co-operative and that also means being patient when necessary… if you get ignorant with the Customs Officers you may find they get ignorant with you!

I highly recommend Kingsley’s Shipping service from London to Kingston and would not hesitate to use their services again as they were not only super professional and friendly, they were also careful with my goods.

Looking for a shipping quotation to Jamaica

The Art of Shipping a Barrel… Part One

Barrels shipping to Jamaica

The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part One

Shipping a crate or a barrel is not as hard as you think if you follow some easy tips and advice and with the great service at the wharf it makes it all the more enjoyable…

This is a two-part post on The Art of Shipping to JamaicaPart One includes advice and tips on everything that happens prior to the barrel leaving the Senders address. Part Two covers what happens once the barrel has arrived in the destination port of entry and requires clearing and transportation to the receiver.

How to Ship a Barrel?

It is a fairly simple process to arrange shipping for a barrel to Jamaica, as demonstrated in these three easy steps!

  1. Find a reputable local shipping agent and buy a barrel; usually at around £32.00 / $20 – $40 US, for a 210 litre / 55 Gallon plastic barrel, most agents will deliver sometimes for a small fee
  2. Pack your barrel with care! Wrap lids with brown packing tape and separate food items away from toiletries, soap powder and cleaning materials, so they taste and smell as they should. Bubble wrap fragile items and use towels, bed sheets and other soft items as protection.
  3. Arrange for collection from your shipping agent and make sure they put a ‘tamper proof seal’ on your barrel. Pay for shipping to either Kingston wharf, Montego bay wharf, or opt for home delivery. Get your Bill of Lading and keep in a safe place – you will need to take it to the wharf with you to clear the barrel

Finding a Shipping Agent

If you are thinking about shipping a barrel to Jamaica first and foremost you are going to need to find a shipping agent and locate somewhere that stocks barrels and drums.

The obvious place to try is local shipping companies and shipping agents in your area, many of which can be found when searching for ‘shipping services’ online, or in directories such as the yellow pages. If you give most shipping agents a call they may be willing to drop off an empty barrel at little, or no charge.

Alternatively, try searching online for ‘barrels and drums’ , ‘barrel’ or ‘plastic shipping barrel’. I have seen barrels for sale on eBay and Gumtree and through independent sellers, where they have plenty of choice and availability.

The most popular size of barrel holds around 210 – 220 litres, or about 55 Gallons are sold for about £32.00, or US $25.00 – US $40.00.

More Information: Want to learn more about Barrels? – Read ‘What are Shipping Barrels and Drums?’

Packing your Barrel

To ensure you items arrive in one piece and tasting as expected, you should follow some packing ettiquette tips. Sort items by type, wrap and seal them to plastic bags and containers and do your best to keep different types of items apart. I would recommend packing items you love and need and look out for bargains and deals to lower the cost of filling the barrel.

Barrels containing a mixture of food, household / kitchen items, cleaning materials, toiletries, used clothing and other sundry items have the lowest tax bracket as they are considered to be items for personal use. These types of barrel contents attract Customs Fees starting from JA $6,500 per barrel and up.

More Information: A guide to Picking and Packing a Shipping Barrel

 

Security of Barrels when Shipping

You may of heard rumours that items go missing from barrels, or that it is not a secure way to transport your goods to Jamaica.  But I would beg to differ. In my experience of shipping to Jamaica since 2008, I have never had anything go missing from any of my consignments.

Barrel Security is paramount to both the customer and the shipping agent. It would ruin a shipping agents reputation if they repeatedly raided their customers barrels, or where negligent when clearing items on a customers behalf.

The wharf is also a profit making business, bad customer feedback means less customers and less profit, so they watch their staff and have massively upgraded the facilities and security measures in recent years.

To ensure the barrels are secured the shipping agents attach a small tamper proof metal tag to the barrel seal. This is secured to the barrel before they even leave the senders location and are loaded onto the truck for delivery to the wharf. If you really want to have peace of mind you can write down the serial number and check it has the same serial / ID number when it reaches the wharf in Jamaica, if you are clearing the barrels and drums in person.

If you opt for home delivery, the barrel will be opened by customs officials in the presence of your shipping agent, in order for the contents to be verified and valued for customs duty. Please be aware that Kingston Wharf has cameras working in this area to film what is going on and to prevent the possible stealing or removing of goods from the barrels by the people working there.

This is also a way of catching contraband that is being packed into the barrels. The video evidence will show the sealed barrel being opened for the first time since it left the senders overseas location, incriminating them squarely.

 

Labelling your Barrel Correctly

The only way of distinguishing your barrel from the millions of other barrels at the wharf is the label, or to be exact the writing on the barrel itself. So be sure to take the time to do it correctly.

It is best to use a thick black permanent marker pen and write your name (or the receivers name) and address clearly on the barrels, so they are easily identifiable at the wharf. Don’t be shy, write in big block letters so it can be read from a mile away (not literally!), make it easy for the warehouse workers to find your barrel in the mellee. If the cover is made of metal write on that too, the more labels the better. The shipping agent will generally add their own sticker backed label as well, but it is best not to rely on it in case in falls off.

The correct way of writing the receivers details on the barrel is:

 

Receivers Name (first and last name)

Local Post Office

Address of Receiver

Parish of Receiver

Jamaica, W.I.

 

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Barrel?

The cost involved in shipping a barrel is made up of two parts. The first set of charges will be pre-paid in the country of origin and the rest will need to be paid by the receiver in the destination country. The sender will need to take into account the cost of filling the barrel (the contents), buying the barrel itself and the cost of shipping the barrel from the country of origin to the port of destination.

To give an example: It cost me £96.00 in total for 3 barrels, plus a further £120.00 to collect the barrels from London, UK and ship them to Kingston Wharf, Jamaica.

There are other fees and taxes to pay in the destination country, when clearing and collecting the barrel. The fees vary dependent on the shipping agent, Customs taxes and fees incurred and whether you opt for home delivery in Jamaica.

Want to learn about the process of clearing a barrel and the charges incurred? Keep reading Part Two.

More Information: The Art of Shipping a Barrel –  Part Two

This Post was originally posted on 23rd November 2012 – Updated January 2017.

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Food Shopping is Expensive in Jamaica!

Hi-Lo Receipt Jamaica

Food Shopping is Expensive in Jamaica!

If you are considering moving to Jamaica don’t be fooled into thinking that it is cheap to buy groceries and household items, because the cost of living and everyday items is somewhat shocking. As I walk around the stores I find myself checking the price of the items I am putting in my basket, as it is all too easy to get a fright at the till when the cashier informs you of your balance. I am sure the reason they don’t start packing the groceries until after you have opened your purse and handed over the money is in case you need to retrieve something and put it back!

Cheap Imported Foods

Don’t get me wrong the cost of food shopping in the UK, or specifically London where I come from, isn’t exactly cheap. But we have an influx of what is universally known by the British as ‘pound shops’, where everyday items can be picked up for, you guessed it, £1.00. European supermarkets also flood the local high streets with knock-down prices on a wider ranges of foodstuffs, helping the working classes to get by on lower incomes.

But this isn’t really the case in Jamaica, as the equivalent $100 shops do not exist. The smaller supermarkets edging in on the market share are mainly Chinese owned and they are highly unlikely to give you a dollar off the going rate, much less create a price war with their competitors. Most basic staple food items, such as sugar, flour, rice, bread, oil, meats, fish and vegetables seem to have a ‘going rate’ at any one time in Jamaica and you will be hard pushed to find a vendor that will go below this current market rate to make a fast sale.

Price fixing as such, is normal so you just buy what you can afford. Simple. But it occurs to me time and time again, how everyday Jamaican people are managing these expenses on their incomes?

There is an influx of imported goods into Jamaica, and believe it or not this also includes things like sugar, bananas, onions, and coconuts. Locally grown and raised produce is often more expensive than its imported counterparts and so the reliance on imported goods perpetuates.

Buying Household Goods in Jamaica

The choice, price and quality of household items found in Jamaica, is likely to very different to what you can find overseas. Whilst there are low-cost items found all over the island, they are often imported from China and are made of cheap flimsy materials which do not last. This makes them uneconomical to buy, as they have to be replaced so often (you buy cheap, you buy twice).

Good quality, modern looking soft furnishings, such as curtains, nets, cushions, blankets, bedding, towels, bath mats, shower curtains and rugs / mats are generally expensive in Jamaica, as the majority are imported.

Kitchen ware, such as cutlery, utensils and pots and pans are also expensive and the choice of brands can be somewhat limited.

Decorative items, such as pictures, ornaments, vases, wall hangings and picture frames are also limited and can be very expensive for the sort of attractive contemporary pieces we are used to seeing abroad.

You may prefer to bring these type of items from overseas and most items can be easily packed into a barrel.

Buying Local – Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!

There are more and more entrepeneurs springing up all over Jamaica offering a plethora of items for your consuming pleasure! Whether it be furniture or interior design products, gourmet foods and drinks, or beauty and jewellery lines. Supporting these individuals and small businesses helps to build Jamaica and its people. If you want ideas of who, where, how and why you should get involved, read the ‘Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!’ series of posts featuring some of the best and boldest companies that Jamaica has to offer.

 

Living Expenses of Visitors and Returning Residents to Jamaica

The cost of living expenditures, such as groceries and household items, needs to be factored into the budget when thinking about moving to Jamaica, or when retiring there. As visitors and returning residents we initially start by translating the prices back into our native currency and compare how it equates to living back there, but that isn’t realistic in the long-term.

If you do not work in Jamaica, or have an income stream feeding you from overseas, you may find it gets exhaustive stretching out your hand to pay for things, but getting nothing back in the other hand to replenish it.

If you are considering moving to Jamaica it is a good idea to ‘grow what you eat’ where possible, if you have any space available to do so. There is nothing better than popping outside your very own doorstep to pick and collect the fruits of your labour and it tastes so much better too; especially if grown organically.

Save Money on Groceries – Ship a Barrel to Jamaica!

If you don’t know what a shipping barrel is, it may be worthwhile reading Barrels and Drums – The Basics. As I recommend stocking up and shipping a barrel or two when you can.  Barrels and drums containing food items, cleaning materials, toiletries and household goods, help to cut down on what you have to pick up at the stores in Jamaica. You also have the benefit of having all your favourites to hand, plus items that are non-existent or expensive to buy in Jamaica.

More information: Shipping to Jamaica.

 

Looking for a shipping quotation to Jamaica

The Cost of Groceries in Jamaica

I initially published this post in November 2012 and I listed the cost of some items that I had bought in Hi-Lo Supermarket in Ocho Rios. Looking back at the 2012 prices I am amazed at how much some items have raised since! This is proof in point of why it is so important to consider your outgoings when moving to Jamaica, or visiting here for an extended period of time.

The 2012 receipt has a small selection of ‘non-essential’ items, such as, cigarettes, cakes and beer, but also has everyday items, such as, bread, toilet tissue and fresh seasoning for cooking included to give a wider indication of the price of popular items.

Today’s currency exchange rate can be found courtesy of www.xe.com I have itemised the receipt with the price shown in Jamaican Dollars, UK Sterling and USA Dollars to give an example of a small basket of items from a Jamaican supermarket as of 1st November 2012:

Hi-Lo Supermarket Receipt…

  • Giant Hard Dough Bread: $240.00 JA, or £1.64 UK, or $2.64 US Dollars.
  • 2 x tin Grace Vienna Sausages: $153.12 JA, or £1.05 UK, or $1.69 US Dollars.
  • 2 x Hi-Lo Flaked Tuna Fish: $157.10 JA, or £1.08 UK, or $1.74 US Dollars.
  • Red Stripe Beer (un-chilled): $99.89 JA, or £0.68 UK, or $1.10 US Dollars.
  • Dragon Stout (un-chilled): $118.87 JA, or £0.81 UK, or $1.31 US Dollars.
  • 2 x small chubby soda(un-chilled): $44.60 JA, or £0.31 UK, or $0.49US Dollars.
  • Betty tinned condensed Milk: $159.39 JA, or £0.81 UK, or $1.31 US Dollars.
  • Bulk Margarine: $80.16 JA, or £0.55 UK, or $0.88 US Dollars.
  • 2 x Chippies small Banana Chips: $84.50 JA, or £0.58 UK, or $0.93 US Dollars.
  • Local Onions loose: $84.05 JA, or £0.58 UK, or $0.58 US Dollars.
  • Honey Bun Pineapple Cake: $76.00 JA, or £0.52 UK, or $0.84 US Dollars.
  • Honey Bun Cheese Bread: $95.00 JA, or £0.65 UK, or $1.05 US Dollars.
  • Scott Bathroom Tissue Roll: $53.78 JA, or £0.37 UK, or $0.59 US Dollars.
  • Garlic Loose 1 Head: $16.80 JA, or £0.12 UK, or $0.19 US Dollars.
  • Plum Tomato Pre-packed: $73.56 JA, or £0.50 UK, or $0.81 US Dollars.
  • North Coast Times Newspaper: $43.00 JA, or £0.29 UK, or $0.47 US Dollars.
  • Dunhill lights 20 cigarettes: $621.50 JA, or £4.25 UK, or $6.86 US Dollars.
Sub Total: $2,221.32 JA, or £15.21 UK, or $24.52 US Dollars.
Tax: $294.84 JA, or £2.02 UK, or $3.25 US Dollars.
Total: $2,516.16 JA, or £17.23 UK, or $27.78 US Dollars.

This receipt is representative of just a small basket of items and cost just over $2,500 and does not include a single complete meal, the tax alone is nearly $300. I appreciate the alcohol and cigarettes bump up the price and cake is not an essential item, but these are the sort of things we treat ourselves to when popping to the local shop in London and wouldn’t think anything of buying them.

In Conclusion

It’s not nice to work hard for a ‘dream lifestyle’ somewhere hot and beautiful like Jamaica, if you spend your nest egg in the first couple of years of coming to live here. Unless, you have an endless supply of money and can afford to spend like there is no tomorrow – Start thinking like a Jamaican.

Remember that although it can feel like one endless vacation (as who is to complain) when living in Jamaica, it will soon turn into a nightmare if you do not take into consideration the everyday things such as, Food Shopping is Expensive in Jamaica!

More information: Want to learn more about all aspects of Shipping to Jamaica?

 Thinking of moving to Jamaica

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

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