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rjhelmes

When/How do you pay duty on excess purchases?

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As a US citizen say I buy 3 bottles of liquor in St. Maarten (I think I'm allowed 1 liter duty free) and return to Fort Lauderdale. Do I show the US Customs Officer my receipts and pay there? Cash, Check, Credit card?  How does this usually work?

 

Also, years ago (2012) we bought liquor in a port and while returning to the ship they waived us through passed the liquor hold station. I assumed it was because we had the drink package (but they never checked our cards so how would they know) and why would they care if we drink what we bought versus drink the included bev PKG booze. Is this normal of you have the drink package or did we just get lucky to not have to check our liquor to the ships hold.

Edited by rjhelmes
Correction

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Revarding the ship, sometimes they check your incoming packages and sometimes they don’t.  Having or not having the drink package is not a factor.

 

regarding US Customs, if you declare it on your entry forms they may or may not choose to impose duty.  For one bottle it isn’t likely you will be assessed any duty.  If they pull you out of line because of your declaration, they may ask to see the receipts.  

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Officially you are suppose to report it on your Customs Form but as of late they have not been issuing them.    After immigration there are two lines (not really intuitive) similar to Europe a Red land (something to declare) and a Green line - Nothing to Declare.

 

Officially if caught going through the green lane and are caught they will confiscate the item.   In reality they usually give you a verbal chance to change your declaration and may mark your passport in their system and you may be subject to increased scrutiny on future entries into the US.  

 

I believe the current rate for general merchandise is 3%   but my be higher for booze.   As others have said they officer may just wave you through instead of doing all the paperwork for such a small amount of revenue.  

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In addition to all that Jim_Iain said above I'd add that if you have Global Entry and get caught NOT declaring something in excess of legal allowances you stand the risk of losing your GE status. It wouldn't be worth it for 1 bottle of booze.

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my experience has been that US Customs will often forgo the duty, because it is not worth their time to collect a few dollars and fill out the paperwork.  That said, you should declare it and be prepared to pay the duty.

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We had no forms to fill out in Ft L in April, just asked us orally what we bought on the cruise and how much it cost. 4 bottles of booze and a watch, plus some shirts and hats. Waived us through. 75 seconds total.

 

I had the recepts in my hand if needed, but they never asked.

 

Duty if assessed is based on actual alcohol content, and is approx $3 per 750ml bottle I believe.

Edited by mayleeman

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Thanks for the responses, they're all very helpful. I can definitely understand why the agent would waive people through if they have paperwork to fill out for just a few dollars, especially since it always seem like they're understaffed.

 

We've been on a few cruises but have never needed to declare anything in excess and I've never seen anyone pay excess duties so I didn't want to be unprepared if we find some liquors we can't get at home.

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Just as long as you are prepared to declare and pay, you should be OK. If you try to smuggle and they find you out, good luck.

 

I think at this point, they know what's bought ahead of time and can decide whether or not you need to pay extra. All shipboard purchases are forwarded ahead of time. I would imagine that the duty free stores also prepare such a list.

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As a TX resident (at the time) - I used to walk into Mexico for the day & back...

I think @ the time it was $1.00 TX Tax / bottle for every bottle over the limit. 

I & the peeps truly enjoyed Margaritas back then - the Tax was nothing compared to the savings 🙂

My Dad & Wife were "Winter Texans" w/ an out of state license. 

They were allowed to bring back more bottles than I was & they were willing to contribute to the cause...

Edited by Von & John

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If we are talking about Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale,) they have facial recognition at the terminal we disembarked at...and we were not asked if we had anything to declare...and there are no customs declarations anymore at ports.

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42 minutes ago, helen haywood said:

If we are talking about Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale,) they have facial recognition at the terminal we disembarked at...and we were not asked if we had anything to declare...and there are no customs declarations anymore at ports.

Last time I went through Facial Recognition (Immigration not Customs) there was a sign up high with a desk to report to if you had anything to declare.   I went to it as I had some items to declare.    You are correct that there was no paper customs declaration and the declaration was done verbally.   

 

Another interesting situation can come up with Customs.    We had purchased some original artwork which was declared and was duty free.   They reported it to California and I got a bill from California Franchise Tax Board for sales tax on the purchase. 

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