Calculating duty on imported goods

| 23/06/2016

How are imported goods assessed at Customs for duties? Is it even remotely possible that the duties cost more than the cost of items paid? What guidelines are they following and is this accessible to the public?

Auntie’s answer: Admittedly in the hopes of avoiding having to go through the Customs Law myself, I contacted an official at the Customs Department for guidance in answering your questions. Unfortunately for me, however, I was directed to the Customs website which contains the relevant laws.

I have to say, though, that it seems all the information you requested is available in those places. The website has a lot of useful information. And, the Customs Tariff Law (2015 Revision) is a remarkable document, which outlines the amount of duty to be assessed on specific items.

After skimming through it, I feel pretty secure in saying that if the item you want to determine the import duty on is not on the list, then it probably doesn’t even exist. Tariffs are itemised for everything from live horses to frogs legs to rhododendrons to gooseberries to wool grease to human hair. I would recommend having a look through the document just because it is an impressively detailed (and I mean detailed) description of all manner of goods that could make their way into Cayman.

The customs official also advised looking at Part IV, pages 29-33, of the Customs Law (2012 Revision) for an explanation of how duty is charged.

Since duty is a percentage of the value of the imported item (there are different percentages charged depending on the type of goods), I don’t see how the tariff can be higher than the value of the item you are bringing in. However, I have myself experienced times where the amount of duty assessed did make the whole exercise of bringing in the item or receiving it in the mail as a gift seem not worth the expense. But if I am off the mark here, please let me know.

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS you are so right in saying “the amount of duty assessed did make the whole exercise of bringing in the item or receiving it in the mail as a gift seem not worth the expense”….and the lovely officers…another story…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Duty is assessed on the value of the item plus the shipping. For small value items it is entirely possible that the duty could exceed the value of the item itself once the duty charge on shipping is taken into consideration.

    That $0.99 item you buy on EBay may cost $5.99 to ship. Duty on most small items arriving by post is 22%. That would be 22% on $6.98 ($0.99 + $5.99) = $1.54 in duty, which is more than the price of the item itself. Then you have to pay the package tax as well, a couple more dollars.

  3. Anonymous says:

    They have no refund mechanism in place, and that is a robbery. In Bermuda, if you are returning an item you paid a duty on, they will refund the fee you paid, and they do it right at the post office. Here you are screwed.

    • Micheal W says:

      Over $10 if you are over charge you can be refunded will you will get usually after 3 months