When returning to the Cayman Islands from overseas, the Department of Customs and Border Control give local residents a duty (free) allowance of CI$500 per person. If the resident is over the age of 18 then in that dollar allowance they can also include 200 cigarettes and up 1 litre of spirits, or 4 litres of wine or 1 case of beer (cannot exceed 8 litres). If the resident's overseas purchases do not exceed CI$500 per person then they do not need to declare their goods to Customs on arrival. If they have spent over CI$500 then they must bungle all their receipts up and show this to the Customs Officer in the 'Goods To Declare' line at the airport. You will then be charged 22% duty on all purchases over CI$500.
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If a resident has bought something for a business then this is not duty free and 22% will need to be paid on it. All Visitors are expected to declare anything new they are bringing in with them, including gifts to family, and will be expected to pay 22% on the items. Please make sure you travel with your receipts to make this process easier! The Cayman Islands derives a significant portion of their revenue from the collection of duties and people are expected to be completely honest when they declare their overseas purchases. Without duties the alternative may well be income tax, and that would be a far worse burden to bear!
If you are entering Cayman to take up employment or residency for a period in excess of 12 months, your personal and household effects are admitted duty-free as long as they are not new (you have already owned them for at least six months prior to entry), although they must be imported within six months of arrival. The importation of new items (purchased within the last six months of entry) is never duty-free in the Cayman Islands and these items must be properly separated and identified on your packing list*. The six-month period starts the moment you arrive in the Cayman Islands, rather than the date your work permit is approved. For the import of used personal effects, you must complete two forms; the ‘Declaration For Unaccompanied Baggage’ form and the Customs Import Entry form and produce proof of residency by way of a work permit or other means.
*Please note that it is absolutely essential that you, or the freight forwarder who is helping you bring in your personal items, makes it VERY clear what are new items within your packing list so that duty can be assessed accordingly. The Customs Department inspect personal shipments when they arrive in Cayman and they can and do charge a duty penalty of 300% on any items they feel have been brought in without being declared on your paperwork. So to stop this from happening to you, separate on your packing list, what are new dutiable items.
If you cannot import your household items within the six month window, it is possible to ask the Collector of Customs for an extension. You will need to write a letter to PO Box 898, Grand Cayman KY1-1103 or try calling: Tel: (345) 949 4579.
Most mail-order items will be charged 22% duty and any gifts sent by family and friends are also subject to duty. Common duty charges can range from 7% to 27%. Below is a list of common items and their duty rate. A full list can be found on https://online.gov.ky/cols/faces/colshtc.
When items are sent to you in the Cayman Islands via an overseas mail carrier like British Royal Mail you will be notified of its arrival via a Customs note in your mailbox. You will then be expected to go down to the Airport Post Office and clear the item. You will be charged 22% duty on the shipping costs as well as the value of the item. Cayman residents have felt for years that it is completely unfair to be charged duty on the shipping costs of getting something mailed into the Islands when you can travel to Miami, shop for a day, and then when you come back in your get a CI$500 duty free allowance on what you have bought overseas.
Common Import Duty Rates
|Alcohol||$1.95 - $15.98 per litre|
|Antiques (over 100 years)||Free|
|Cameras & Binoculars||Free|
|Cars||Free - 42%|
|Cigarettes||$42 per carton|
|Clothing & Footwear||22%|
|Gold, bullion and coins||Free|
|Other jewellery, not of a precious metal||22%|
|Laptops & Tablets||22%|
|Medications (prescription and controlled drugs)||12%|
|Precious and semi-precious stones (eg diamonds, rubies and emeralds)||12%|
|Spectacles, including frames and contact lenses||Free|
|Spirits||$11.55 per litre|
|Toys & Games||22%|
|Wedding Dresses||22% (for residents getting married in Cayman)|