Personal and household effects are those items of furniture and household equipment which you may need to re-establish a home in Jamaica. A specified amount of such items, whether new or used, can be imported free of Customs Duty by an eligible Returning Resident. These are set out in Appendix A of this Information Pack.

You may, of course, import more than the specified amount of an item, but excess quantities are liable to Customs Duty. Appendix B-1 of this Information Pack gives an indication of the current rates of duty applicable.

If the value of items imported in excess of your duty-free allowance exceeds US$5,000 (five thousand US dollars) they are for Customs purposes considered as Commercial Goods, and you will require the services of a Licensed Customs Broker to clear these items. They will be dealt with as a Customs Entry separate and apart from your personal and household effects and tools of trade.

When you have selected or acquired the items that you intend to bring with you, you will, in all likelihood, require the services of a professional shipper or freight forwarder to pack and arrange for their transportation. Such items are then classified as Unaccompanied Baggage. (See Section on Clearing Unaccompanied Baggage for the steps you will be required to follow to effect clearance of household and personal effects.) Note that your shipper may have an arrangement with a Licensed Customs Broker in Jamaica, or can recommend one, who can, for a fee, arrange the clearance and delivery of your goods in Jamaica. The Information Pack Directory contains the address of the Customs Brokers Association of Jamaica from whom further details of the services provided by its members and the applicable fees may be obtained.

Note also that under the current procedures, if you wish to bring into the country at the time you enter any small portable household or other items as accompanied baggage, such items will be detained at the port of entry by Customs and deemed dutiable until you have visited the Customs Department to officially confirm your eligibility for Returning Residents status.


Tools of trade are defined in Jamaican law as follows:

"That type and amount of instruments, tools, equipment, devices and machinery as would be usually used in the normal course and scope of a person's profession, trade or occupation without utilizing additional labour".

Returning Residents who wish to import items which fall under this definition in order to pursue their profession, trade, or occupation may do so free of Customs Duty, provided that the examining Customs Officer is satisfied that:

The items are for the sole use of the individual for the purposes of income generation
The individual is qualified to use them
They are of the type and quantity as can be so used
They are not imported for sale or commercial exchange

As is the case with household effects, these items may be either new or used.

If it is your intention to return home to establish a business which will require the employment of additional labour, any equipment you may require for others to operate will not fall into the category of tools of trade. You should therefore include Customs Duty in your estimation of investment costs in this instance.

Facilities have been put in place for a Returning Resident to be advised, before actual departure for Jamaica, as to whether items he or she intends to import as tools of trade will comply with the definition. This service is available through our diplomatic missions overseas or the Jamaicans Overseas Department in Kingston.

It will assist the process if you can provide documentary proof of your qualification and/or experience in your profession, trade or occupation. Such documents could include:

A certificate or diploma from a recognized educational institution, professional body, or training establishment which has been notarized or certified
A reference from a former employer or customer attesting to your experience in the designated field
Copies of professional or business directories in which the service you offer is listed, etc

You should also provide comprehensive details of the items you wish to import as tools of trade. In the case of used equipment you should provide a detailed inventory of the items along with a professional valuation as to their current condition and worth, except in the case of equipment less than one year old where the original supplier's invoice can be provided.

To be considered "used", the items of equipment should have been in your possession, and in use, for a period of six (6) months or more. If you propose to acquire new equipment, you should ask your supplier for a pro-forma invoice giving full details of the items and their current price.

If you visit or write your Mission to request this service, the designated Consular Officer will forward copies of the relevant documents you have provided to the Jamaicans Overseas Department in Kingston. The Department will consult with the Customs Authorities to verify whether the specified tools of trade will be allowed duty-free entry. In the event that the items do not qualify for duty-free treatment, the Department will give an indication of the rate of duty which would be payable.

The overall review process should be completed within approximately ten (10) working days, and you will be notified in writing. It should be carefully noted that as the laws currently stand, a formal assessment of Customs Duty, or determination of compliance for duty-free importation of tools of trade can only be made by the Examining Officer on clearance of the items. The special arrangements introduced under the Charter should however give some reasonable indication in both areas.

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