Reselling duty-free cigarettes

| 11/09/2017

A friend of mine travels regularly to Florida. Even though he does not smoke, on his return he always brings a carton of duty-free cigarettes. He in turn sells the cigarettes privately in Cayman. I’ve told my friend that this may be illegal and it could affect his work permit if he is stopped by customs. He thinks that he is doing nothing wrong because he is within the limit allowed. Who is correct?

Auntie’s answer: I am hoping you really are enquiring for a friend and not a “friend”, meaning yourself, because you are definitely correct that no one should be reselling cigarettes brought in under duty-free allowances.

An official with the Customs Department confirmed this and explained the rules and the possible penalties for contravention. Cayman Islands residents “must declare the total value of all articles acquired abroad (whether by purchase, as a gift, or otherwise) which are in their or family’s possession at the time of arrival”.

In addition, residents “returning from a visit overseas may bring with them dutiable or household articles, at the discretion of the Collector, up to the value of CI$350 (US$417)”. All passengers over the age of 18 may also bring with them certain duty-free items including up to 200 cigarettes. You can find the complete list of duty-free allowances on the Customs Department website.

The official further explained that for visitors or residents coming in with dutiable or household articles, these are only allowed for personal use or consumption.

Specifically, for your question, he said, “Passengers reselling duty-free articles, the question of cigarettes in your inquiry, would be in breach of the Customs Law which may lead to seizure of all the articles and may be subject to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution.”

If you require any more clarification, Sections 58 and 59 of the Customs Law (2017 Revision) refer to anyone who offers goods for sale that are “uncustomed” or “wilfully or negligently contravenes any procedural requirement of this Law”, commits an offence.

Section 62 says, “A person who is found guilty of an offence of smuggling or evasion of duty or package tax shall, in addition to the duty payable and to any penalty imposed by this or any other law, be ordered to pay a fine equal to three times the duty and tax on the goods involved, being the subject of such offence, or, in the case of prohibited goods, three times the current saleable value of such goods.”

Then Section 63 further explains penalties: “(1), a person who commits an offence under sections 51 to 58 is liable, in addition to any mandatory penalty and forfeiture, on summary conviction to a fine of six thousand dollars and to imprisonment for five years.

(2) A person who commits an offence under section 59 shall, subject to any ruling of the Collector under paragraph (b) of section 7 and subject to a right of appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction, pay to Customs a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.”

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Customs Questions

Comments (9)

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  1. cuban connection says:

    Many bring cigars from Cuba and re-sell them at high profit… all the time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This person will never get caught for selling a carton of duty free cigs. How will it be enforced? Even if he is searched how will they know he is going to resell and not just consume?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Apart from being illegal under the customs law it is illegal to sell cigarettes without a licence. Also if you are on a work permit it is illegal for your to be “gainfully occupied” outside the realm of your work permit. Many laws being broken here.

  4. Anonymous says:

    who cares

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a work permit holder who doesn’t have a business license nor do their work permit cover this. This person permit should be cancelled and deported. Who knows what else they’re doing. Breaking the law starts with the small things and goes to the bigger things. After all, if they get away with this why not continue their crime spree.

  5. Anonymous says:

    LOL Zzzzzzzzz….

  6. Anonymous says:

    “Returning travelers” and work permit holders in particular are selling goods and offering services that is seriously impacting local companies. In particular the ‘mom & pop’ small businesses and sole traders cannot fairly compete with all the “undocumented” handyman, shade-tree mechanics and freelance photographers negatively impacting those of us who have license, insurance and health care costs to deal with. It is getting seriously out of hand with apparently little to no action being taken to stop it.

    Does Immigration and Customs have anonymous lines or secure mailboxes to report such violations? Better yet, will they take any action upon information provided?? The RCIPS appears to be doing little to stem the unlicenced dirt bikes endangering life and limb. Are we not a land of law and order??

  7. Anonymous says:

    As usual there is an impressive list of laws which are mostly impossible to enforce so no one tries. There is zero chance of being caught for this. It’s the same with liquor. A liter of Bacardi for CI$23? At home–US$13.00. Food is worse. I’ve paid $5 for a tomato. Cayman should eliminate duty on all regular food and give people a little break.