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Old 2nd January 2012, 11:42   #1
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Question Question about Indian Customs and your experience

I have a question about premium brand Watches with Crocodile or Alligator or lizard or any other exotic skin made leather strap. What if you wear one of the watch that comes with these leather straps and consequences of encountering customs at port of entry while you returning from a foreign visit?

I was reading this paragraph of Indian customs baggage rule from the customs website here: Baggage Rules at a glance - CBEC

All the animals mentioned above in the question are reptiles so have any one of you encountered such an issue? or it is a take it easy policy for customs at the port of entry for watch straps?

- Export of most species of wild life and articles made from flora and fauna such as Ivory, Musk, Reptile skins, Furs, Shahtoosh etc. is prohibited. For any clarifications passenger should approach the Regional Deputy Director (Wildlife Preservation) Govt. of India or the Chief Wildlife Wardens of State Governments posted at Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.


Now the second question about wearing a Rolex solid gold watch and encountering customs at port of entry, will there be a duty ? or Customs will treat Rolex as jewelry and let go as it will be with in the importable weight category? Secondly there is a higher chance that people from Indian origin bought a Rolex gold watch in India or wears one from ancestral property without a bill and the same person travels out from India and while returning back wearing the same watch, what will happen in that case?

Again people who had solid gold Rolex watch and traveled to and from India, please post your experience.

Last edited by trammway : 2nd January 2012 at 11:46.
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Old 4th January 2012, 08:16   #2
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Hehehe, I guess you are the distinguished person to have a solid gold ROLEX watch. While I am ignorant on the first part, which is the animals and other protected species. Let me share with you my experiences with Customs.

I have been living abroad since 1996 and have valid VISA on all my 3 passports, which are clipped together. This massive booklet gives a good feeling when at immigration or at customs.

Last year in November, I moved some 200 kgs of baggage including TV, Mission Speakers etc from Oman to Bombay, in total I had some 8 large boxes.

Naturally, I was the customs inspectors delight, I argued, saying that these are used goods and produced dated bills and challenged the customs inspector to verify the serial numbers.

Guess what, after 30 mins of haggling, when I showed him A VISA Cancellation page, he let me go without a single Re. to paid towards customs. I was shocked. Seeing my disbelief, he said that the allowance is 75K for a person returning to India after a years stay abroad. Hidden rule, looked it up, yes it is correct.

In another instance, I had 3 SLR bodies, ofcourse all film SLR's with some 4 lens attachments etc. I was stopped and asked which magazine I work for.? and if I am importing them for professional work.

When I showed them that they are used ones and are for my hobby, I was let go.

However, during the November visit, I witnessed the real intelligence of these Customs officers.

A tall gentleman was ahead of me and pleading the the customer officers to accept duty on his Sony Bravia LED TV which was a 42 or a 50 inches one. He was in a hurry to go.

Seeing his desperation, he was asked to wait, produce his tickets etc, baggage tags etc. Guess what, this person had his wife and Sister in law travelling with him and they had already exited the airport using the Green Channel. They were called back in and their luggage hand searched. Some jewelry boxes gave them away. Between the two ladies, they had obscene amount of jewelry. The guy was trying to be smart and was caught in his fast track actions.

So the moral of the story, you are confident and put your case forward logically, you should be able to get away.

Most of the times it has worked with me, is to offer to leave the baggage behind and collect it the following day.

Last edited by shivshanker : 4th January 2012 at 08:20.
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Old 4th January 2012, 10:14   #3
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Default Re: Question about Indian Customs and your experience

Not sure about crocodile/etc part . Why not see if these are sold in India? If they are sold here, then it should be ok.

And about customs, IIRC, some actress was held at airport 2-3 months back coz she was wearing some costly jewellery ( to skip customs) which she had bought from abroad.

And, my friend had to pay 6k as duty for the D7000 they had bought from ML. They did have cover etc and even had an old lens fitted but couldnt escape.
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Old 4th January 2012, 10:37   #4
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Default Re: Question about Indian Customs and your experience

@Trammway: I don't want to be rude but I doubt that custom officials at entry and exit points are intellegent (for the lack of a better word) enough to differentiat between a normal leather strap(most of the watches) and exotic leather staps. If you're really concerned about it then simply wear a full sleeves shirt to cover your pride possesion while travelling in and out of the country. If I were you, I'd carry such a watch in suitcase away from preying eyes. In a suitcase a solid gold watch with exotic leather strap will appear in xray as just any other steel watch with normal leather strap.
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Old 4th January 2012, 12:23   #5
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How can the customs differentiate between a Alligator skin and a crocodile skin, both of which are farm bred for the skins and meat.

I think as long as the product is not on the list of convention in International Trade in Endangered Species the customs should not be a problem.

I have read on a Indian guns forum that many manage to import Hunting trophies as long as they have papers but will not allow any ivory in, but the process is difficult.
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Old 4th January 2012, 13:15   #6
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Actually the duty rates are quite reasonable, and even after paying duty on say $20k worth of luxury goods you are much ahead of prices in India. If in doubt, please consult the baggage rules for the current rates and duty free allowances. Baggage Rules at a glance - CBEC

The customs official have all the latest price lists and are well aware of the value of personal effects. In my experience, if you bring goods for your own consumption - liquor, perfumes and other high value items within reason, they will ignore the transgression. But if they suspect that you are way above the limit in luxury goods and are trying to be one up on them, they can clamp down on you.

I have seen them let an expensive camera (>$,20K) being let off while catching a person with a Nikon Super Telephoto lense, even though the lense was half the cost of the camera. So I think as long as you are not flamboyant they ignore minor transgression.
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Old 4th January 2012, 15:24   #7
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Default Re: Question about Indian Customs and your experience

trammway,

Your Rolex will be treated as your personal item if you are wearing it. Just to make sure you don't get unwanted attention, just cover it with a long sleeved shirt. I have seen people wearing multiple watches in both hands and covering it up. So in my opinion this shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 4th January 2012, 19:40   #8
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Default Re: Question about Indian Customs and your experience

Thanks to everyone who answered, I'm more or less confusion further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Punzabi View Post
If you're really concerned about it then simply wear a full sleeves shirt to cover your pride possesion while travelling in and out of the country. If I were you, I'd carry such a watch in suitcase away from preying eyes. In a suitcase a solid gold watch with exotic leather strap will appear in xray as just any other steel watch with normal leather strap.
There two concerns, even if I wear a full sleeve there will be a security/customs check before existing the airport where you need to put all your metal objects for customs xray scan. Means the watch goes into the plastic tray.

Secondly, are you sure about Gold identified in the machines as any other metal ? They how come the recent news about interrogation a man with Rolex watch in Delhi airport ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by motorpsycho View Post
How can the customs differentiate between a Alligator skin and a crocodile skin, both of which are farm bred for the skins and meat.

I think as long as the product is not on the list of convention in International Trade in Endangered Species the customs should not be a problem.

I have read on a Indian guns forum that many manage to import Hunting trophies as long as they have papers but will not allow any ivory in, but the process is difficult.
Here the situation is not a trophy and as I have posted the rule from customs book, they talk about any reptile. Thats why I wanted to know if anyone had that experience of wearing a watch with Gold or Reptile band while returning from abroad.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aroy View Post
Actually the duty rates are quite reasonable, and even after paying duty on say $20k worth of luxury goods you are much ahead of prices in India. If in doubt, please consult the baggage rules for the current rates and duty free allowances. Baggage Rules at a glance - CBEC

The customs official have all the latest price lists and are well aware of the value of personal effects. In my experience, if you bring goods for your own consumption - liquor, perfumes and other high value items within reason, they will ignore the transgression. But if they suspect that you are way above the limit in luxury goods and are trying to be one up on them, they can clamp down on you.

I have seen them let an expensive camera (>$,20K) being let off while catching a person with a Nikon Super Telephoto lense, even though the lense was half the cost of the camera. So I think as long as you are not flamboyant they ignore minor transgression.
Sorry, the current customs rate for watches are 40%. So even if you won a pre-owned watch and customs people stop you they will estimate the price as per their internal calculations. Check the same Delhi Rolex case, for the solid gold rolex they estimate around 25L price and I don't know where in the world they found that price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepaktpatil View Post
trammway,

Your Rolex will be treated as your personal item if you are wearing it. Just to make sure you don't get unwanted attention, just cover it with a long sleeved shirt. I have seen people wearing multiple watches in both hands and covering it up. So in my opinion this shouldn't be a problem.
I wish it will be that easier, forgetting about rolex full gold or reptile skin bands now. let me know has anyone experienced wearing a stainless steel made Breitling, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin or any other premium brands while returning from your abroad trip ?

In my case I may wear my watches on my visits to India and I have always have an option to carry it back as I still employed outside the country. But the question are these premium brand watches are questioned at airport ? I know there are more people wear these watches and travel in and out of the country but what is the experience ?
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Old 5th January 2012, 11:03   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trammway View Post
Thanks to everyone who answered, I'm more or less confusion further.

Secondly, are you sure about Gold identified in the machines as any other metal ? They how come the recent news about interrogation a man with Rolex watch in Delhi airport ?

Sorry, the current customs rate for watches are 40%. So even if you won a pre-owned watch and customs people stop you they will estimate the price as per their internal calculations. Check the same Delhi Rolex case, for the solid gold rolex they estimate around 25L price and I don't know where in the world they found that price.

I wish it will be that easier, forgetting about rolex full gold or reptile skin bands now. let me know has anyone experienced wearing a stainless steel made Breitling, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin or any other premium brands while returning from your abroad trip ?

In my case I may wear my watches on my visits to India and I have always have an option to carry it back as I still employed outside the country. But the question are these premium brand watches are questioned at airport ? I know there are more people wear these watches and travel in and out of the country but what is the experience ?
As far as I know x-rays can differentiate heavy metals from relatively lighter metals. Gold gets identified easily.

The customs officials use their price list if you have no supporting document. Most of the time they will try to use the highest price mainly from Europe, where a hefty VAT is added. I know of persons who bough Gold Rolex abroad and paid customs on the sales receipt. If you look at prices in India, especially with discounts of 25-30%, buying in India becomes quite reasonable. Of course this may not be the case for pre owned watches.

I have been traveling with my GMT-II SS, and never bothered by customs. Of course if you are traveling from Middle East or Hong Kong/Singapore/KL, they are more thorough. I bough my one in Delhi, but never bothered to carry a receipt with me.
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Old 5th January 2012, 11:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aroy View Post
As far as I know x-rays can differentiate heavy metals from relatively lighter metals. Gold gets identified easily.

I have been traveling with my GMT-II SS, and never bothered by customs. Of course if you are traveling from Middle East or Hong Kong/Singapore/KL, they are more thorough. I bough my one in Delhi, but never bothered to carry a receipt with me.
Thank you.

This is a kind of answer I was expecting, Gold is not only get recognized in xray its color is one very attractive to the entire nation. May be the same reason for you not questioned about GMT-II SS.

Now that gives me a hope that my Breitling may not have trouble finding it's path to my home. I'm still looking for experiences for watches and bracelet made of gold and watches with the reptile skin bands.
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Old 5th January 2012, 12:06   #11
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Default Re: Question about Indian Customs and your experience

two incidents in particular i would like to mention:

1 - while traveling from amritsar to JFK via delhi - i wanted to get export certificate for my DSLR equipment (which is quite costly) and i spoke with, fought with many officials at departure but no one showed up for hours despite repeated messages sent to them by airport staff and i finally left without the certificate. all custom officials were busy at arrival terminals.
i have tried to get export certificate from delhi as well in past and failed. only times i could get the export certificate was while flying out of mumbai.

2 - while coming from JFK to Mumbai, i was bringing the same DSLR equipment back (packed neatly in a camera bag) and it included a 80-200 f2.8 lens which is quite big; upon scanning it, the custom official asked me if this is a water bottle , i was stumped on this and could not respond and he let me go thinking it was a water bottle.
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Old 5th January 2012, 12:54   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trammway View Post
There two concerns, even if I wear a full sleeve there will be a security/customs check before existing the airport where you need to put all your metal objects for customs xray scan. Means the watch goes into the plastic tray.
I am not sure which airport you are referring to, but I do not think full security/customs check is the norm before exiting the airport (at least here at Bangalore). Heck I have never ever been subjected to any security check before exiting in the last 10+ years of my international traveling experience (this includes Mumbai and Bangalore airports).
Of course I do not know what happens if you attract the attention of the customs officers though, as I have never been in such a fortunate situation yet . But in such a situation, they do not need a security scan to discover your Rolex, I guess.
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Old 5th January 2012, 18:29   #13
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I am not sure which airport you are referring to, but I do not think full security/customs check is the norm before exiting the airport (at least here at Bangalore). Heck I have never ever been subjected to any security check before exiting in the last 10+ years of my international traveling experience (this includes Mumbai and Bangalore airports).
Of course I do not know what happens if you attract the attention of the customs officers though, as I have never been in such a fortunate situation yet . But in such a situation, they do not need a security scan to discover your Rolex, I guess.
According to a friend who is in customs, flights from following destinations are checked extra carefully, as this is where people go for shopping
. Middle East
. Hong Kong
. Singapore
. KL

For other destinations, they just observe the passengers and check if they are moving in suspicious manner.

One note, please do not carry any expensive items in the checked in baggage, as chances are high of them getting pilfered. I have a video which shows how you can open a locked zipped bag with a ball point pen. Unfortunately it is 4.5MB. If any one is interested, I can send it by e-mail.
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Old 5th January 2012, 21:49   #14
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I recently landed at Kochi(Nedumbassery) airport, with a Dslr bag, laptop(nowadays they don't care) Iphone, Ipod and other bric-a-brac. While I was well under the 75k limit per passenger, they didnt really bother at all.

Another pleasant experience at Nedumbassery was when my excess baggage landed. Everyone including the customs officers and baggage handlers were friendly and it was a breeze to clear the items and take delivery. Not a single rupee paid as bribe, but I had to pay a nominal duty on some of the items, which I was happy to pay. I think I will devote a thread to detail the experience. Watch this space !!
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Old 6th January 2012, 11:35   #15
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For other destinations, they just observe the passengers and check if they are moving in suspicious manner.
Perhaps true, most of my arrivals were from Europe, so I do not have any personal experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aroy View Post
One note, please do not carry any expensive items in the checked in baggage, as chances are high of them getting pilfered. I have a video which shows how you can open a locked zipped bag with a ball point pen. Unfortunately it is 4.5MB. If any one is interested, I can send it by e-mail.
Yes, its very easy to pick even combination locks (hint: Youtube ).
I have an interesting experience to share here. During my trip to US last month, I forgot to keep one of the checked in bag unlocked and it had the combination lock on. Upon arrival at the hotel I find that I am not able to open my bag with my combination. So, here I am in an unknown land with most of my personal belongings in a bag which I can't open!
Solution: Spend an hour on youtube to figure out how to pick the combination of my own suitcase.
In fact there are now baggages available with TSA approved combination locks which can be opened by TSA personnel without knowing your combination.
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