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:
- The individual shipping agent fees
- The price they charge for the barrel or crate itself
- They may charge a collection fee, to collect the barrel from your home address
- Whether you plan to collect and clear the barrel at the Jamaican wharf in person (you or the recipient), or if you opt for home delivery from the shipping agent (if offered) which will impose additional costs
- Please remember to take into consideration that there will be fees to pay in Jamaica too, there is a landing fee from the shipping agent, a handling fee for the wharf and not forgetting the customs tax on the contents of the barrel. These fees are payable whether you collect the barrel yourself, or if you opt and arrange for home delivery
- You may also be charged storage fees by the wharf, if you don’t collect the barrel in good time once it has arrived…
Don’t let this you put you off though, as it isn’t as complex or expensive as it sounds.
How can I save money Shipping a Barrel to Jamaica?
TOP TIP! – It works out much cheaper if you ship the barrel to yourself, i.e. you can save money shipping a barrel to Jamaica, if you are both the sender and receiver listed on the ‘Bill of Lading’.
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.
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.
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:
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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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