Do I need to pay duty if goods don’t remain in Cayman?

| 17/05/2019

I am a Caymanian who works overseas. I’m in Cayman on vacation and I took a shopping trip to Miami before I head back to the country where I am currently residing/working. The stuff I purchased in Miami will be taken out of Cayman in a week. Do I have to pay Customs duty when I arrive in Cayman being that this stuff is not staying in Cayman?

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Auntie’s answer: I must admit I was sceptical about being able to get the information for you based on previous experience with asking Customs, now Customs and Border Control (CBC), questions. However, in the spirit of giving credit when it is due, I want to say that the officials I dealt with were very helpful and patient, though the response, unfortunately, did not come in time to help the reader who sent the original enquiry. But I am now hopeful that CBC will continue to be accommodating, and perhaps the information below can help others.

There is a way to avoid paying duty (with returning residents allowed to bring in CI$500 worth of goods duty free) if you are only carrying items bought overseas that will be taken back out when you leave Cayman. The catch is that you must leave the goods with CBC until you depart.

You will receive a “detention” form for the items, which will be kept at the airport, and you will need to bring that document when you leave. CBC officers have to ensure the goods will be leaving the islands with you. It is advised that you arrive at the airport during the recommended two to three hours before departure and first take care of retrieving the items.

And no worries if you have an early flight. CBC said officers are stationed at the airport from 6am and would be willing to accommodate you.

There is one other option. If, for some reason, you decide to pay whatever duty is due on your arrival, you would then have to request a refund once CBC confirms the items you brought in are going back out. However, you will not be able to get the money upon your departure since CBC is required to deposit and mark received all funds collected each day. In that case, you would have to give CBC the contact details of someone living here, who will be notified when the money can be picked up on your behalf.

Send questions to
or leave your question in the comment section of any article

Recent answers from Auntie (Click here for archives)

Tags: ,

Category: Ask Auntie, Customs Questions

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    A bit ridiculous if you ask me. Especially when someone has an exit ticket that’s a week out.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We were going to vacation in Cayman but found out you could not send your luggage ahead by courier without having to pay duty.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never paid and won’t pay. How will customs ever determine that my miscellaneous goods are used or new anyway? I never bring in things with tags and personal electronic devices are never in boxes.

    Plus if someone can come in with 10 suitcases and not get checked but me with my one suitcase gets pulled aside, you better believe that’s getting put on social media.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love how customs only have time when it comes to collecting duty lol

  5. Anonymous says:

    So as a Caymanian working/living/studying overseas returns to Cayman for a short period of time – a week or two weeks – for vacation/to see family/attend a funeral we cannot bring in more than $500 worth of clothes/personal items? Or is this more in reference to obvious gifts and large electronics.

    For instance, since I’ve been overseas for almost a year studying all my clothes are new and everything I would bring back with me for a week would cost more than $500 but none of it is staying in Cayman. It would be silly for me to leave my clothes with customs. Also my personal laptop, iPad, cellphone also purchased overseas while at school I would never give those up or pay duty on them. I still have to study during travels writing my thesis and I need my personal devices.

    What about my personal scuba gear? Now those things cost a pretty penny. Do I have to pay for that too? That’s not an obvious one in terms of leaving the island but I do dive while overseas and prefer to have my own things with me.

    Or what about the new mother? Is she to pay for her stroller and baby bag and baby clothes etc. If the child is a newborn, then obviously most if not all the accessories are new unless they are hand me downs. She is using them and they can be classed as used at that point even if recently purchased.

    Where is the line drawn and who makes the decision on discretion?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just pay the fee and keep it moving.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pay the fee for what? This is obviously only for residents and since we self certify now, how do they know the difference? Or are we trying to screw ourselves yet again like the other destination wedding fiasco? And i: this is for residents but always for a Caymanian? It is possible that Caymanians leave the island permanently, return periodically and are no longer considered permanent residents.