On-The-Spot Fines For Misdeclared Baggage

December 2, 2012

The Department of Customs advised that effective December 1, 2012, mis-declared goods in passengers’ baggage will be returned to the owner immediately on payment of the import duty due and an on-the-spot fine.

This means that those who are found to have false or incomplete customs declarations will no longer have to wait to get their purchases back. Previously, offenders were subjected to a formal and often lengthy investigative process that often took months.

The Collector of Customs decided to streamline penalties for arriving air travellers to reduce delays, lower the volume of goods under customs control, and to permit Customs investigators to focus on “more important commercial fraud cases.”

In the new system, if a passenger contravenes policy, then the Customs Officer will issue a Civil Penalty Notice right away which states the amount of the on-the-spot penalty and any outstanding duty due. Official Government receipts will be issued by Customs whenever any duty or penalties are paid.

A Customs spokesperson said, “In deciding whether to impose a penalty, Customs will take care to give the benefit of doubt whenever possible. For example, where Customs is satisfied that a traveller has made an honest mistake, no penalty will be imposed.

“Penalties and duty do not have to be paid right away. Any traveller who is not in a position to pay immediately may leave their goods in the care of Customs and may reclaim those goods at any time within the following 30 days.”

In addition, on-the-spot penalties can be disputed within 30 days using the free customs reviews process. Any questions regarding this may be sent by email to customs@gov.bm, and additional information is available on the Customs Department website.

Read More About

Category: All, News

Comments (53)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Articles that link to this one:

  1. 2012 Bermuda Weekend News Photos, Videos, Links & More | Bernews.com | December 3, 2012
  1. swing voter says:

    good idea. but I still don’t understand why HM Customs do not accept the ‘true value’ as the cost of the item BEFORE sales taxes are added to the purchase price….why pay tax on a tax which amounts to double taxation

    • independent voter says:

      Sales tax is not added to the purchase price. If you pay $100 for a item and $10 is added in taxes you only pay duty on the $100.

  2. Oh Well says:

    WoW on the spot fine and pay duty. That’s another thing about this government trying to find ways to milk the public of $. They need to go NOW!!

    • jredmond says:

      the f@kc are you talking about? this is way more convenient for bot hsides than the old system. Get yo head out of your a$$.

      • mixitup says:

        I just ignored this retard… Nothing has changed other than the benefit for the public to clear the issue up on the spot.

      • Oh Well says:

        @jredmond : I guess you don’t mind because you like taking it from your PLP government. Right where you say my head is at.

    • Just Us says:

      That’s right! Get um PLP…. All them OBA scamers trying to sneak through customs… Um still going to buy my new shoes abroad and wear them right through customs. and if I get 10 pears, I wear them all out the shop at the same time to ruffle the bottoms. I always leave with empty luggage and come back rammed. oooOpps! Did I let the cat out the bag??
      At least I’m not like some of the other dumb travelers, who pull all the tags of the new clothing but then puts the receipts in their purse… Or what about the people that don’t declare anything only to have the luggage checked by customs to find tags on everything… burner!! LMAO

    • johnny says:

      if you don’t cheat you can’t get milked. seems to me no matter what the govt. does you will complain.

  3. Soooooo says:

    Are there laws in place to allow this?

    • Portia says:

      On the face of it, it appears not. My understanding is that the Department of Customs does not have the authority to issue discretionary fines, and that a fine can only be set by an Act of Parliament, which I do not see a record of.

      Bermuda Customs Tariff Act: Section 12:

      1) Subject to subsection (2), the Minister may by order published in the Gazette amend the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Schedules.

      (2) Nothing in this section shall authorize the Minister to impose or cancel any duty or vary the rate of any duty.

      But perhaps I’m missing something here.

      • johnny says:

        section 2 is duty for an item (cannot change or impose a new duty amount), not for the payment of said duty.

        • Portia says:

          Yes, but I’m talking about the penalty itself that is payable ALONG WITH the duty. I don’t see where in the Act does it state that the Department of Customs is permitted to hand out discretionary penalties. If the DUTY must be set by an Act of Parliament, then surely a PENALTY for non-payment of that duty must be set by Parliament as well; that is what I’m wondering about.

  4. hmmm says:

    any estimates on how much these fines would be? 50? 100? 500?

    • RME says:

      When I came through Customs a few weeks ago the agent told me about this new system. She said that the “on the spot fine” for not declaring goods would be $500!

      • Akspert? says:

        500?! Thats robbery at its finest. Maybe if duty wasnt so high to begin with, people wouldnt try to smuggle stuff in.

  5. Truth is killin' me... says:

    “more important commercial fraud cases.” Yeah, like how about stopping these guns and drugs from entering the island! I swear someone in their department is a bad apple. Remember that customs officer a little while back that got off in supreme court for importation. Embarrassed the whole lot of them and I’m sure there’s more bad apples out there!

  6. Small fry says:

    So does the Customs Dept. still need all the staff who handled all the investigations?

  7. Bermudican says:

    i can see it now…
    “I had No IDEA the 2000,000 long tonnes of weed was in my overnight”
    “Ok well,… that will be 432 trillion Jamaican $ . And , Don’t let that type of thing happen again!”

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    Well now, this should held Governments cash flow (computer glitch) problems. Maybe mothers will get child support payments in a timely fashion now.

  9. Pitts Bay says:

    What confuses me is that there is now a “green” and a “red” line.

    You are still required to pay duty at the normal place, and then you apparently choose red or green. Now i suppose that if customs sees you paying duty, and you go through the green line, I expect they will pull you over.

    Why the f@&$)(& don’t they put the cashier on the Red Line. That way, if you have something to declare, you go Red and pay.

    Boggles the mind, really

  10. Tagg Romney says:

    These officers are vultures. I got a penalty notice for not declaring that there was indeed 6 pork sausages in my tin of Heinz beans and sausages and not the 5 that traditionally accompanies this particular brand. Section 28 of the savaloy act.

  11. formidable deviant says:

    I’m not sure this makes a whole lot of difference, but the new channels at the airport are sensible. Just need greater staff for Residents lines now, absurd we have to wait forever, in no other countries to nationals get a worse deal.

  12. Really says:

    Life under this PLP government is all punitive and heading downhill .

  13. HappninBoy says:

    Far right hand side – Friends and Family Line

    • Concerned says:

      I overheard a conversation that if you were to get in the wrong line you would receive a fine. The system being used is another way of keeping tabs on what is bought into the Island – except of course what is bought in by Parliamentarians, I am yet to see any of them being checked. Has anyone every seen that?

  14. Nitty Gritty says:

    Once again they institute draconian rules to punish mostly decent people.
    Really how many people get it perfect?
    Youre in a rush, buying with cash and cards with lots of pieces of paper and trying to make the airport in New York during a snowstorm, sure you’re gonna lose something, forget something. The average Bermudian just wants to come home in peace. But oh no, you are a criminal until proved otherwise.
    Back to the days of feeling guilty and harassed by customs! WELCOME HOME suckers!
    Your Government who instituted this additional twist to the bureaucracy are the ones who need their s#$%^& looked into! Where’s your outrage at this further erosion of your life into an obvious money grab by those who now need it cuz they lost you a billion dollars, and you know where a good bit got “lost” right. $100 fine per magazine? Toothpaste? pair of socks?
    You wonder why the people are starting to seethe with resentment.

    • M.P.Mountbatten JP says:

      Calm down ! Calm the f@#$ DOWN !! If you happen to get caught dodging customs , either pay the fine OR buy your junk back at the Queens warehouse at auction prices .

    • M3ke says:

      Get it wrong?? You know how much u spent. Pay your taxes like a good citizen and stop waiting for government hand outs. You are part of the problem.

  15. On-the-spot! says:

    My stuff got confiscated a year ago and I was told it will be released after investigation. After not hearing from them in 6 months, I called customs to inquire about the status of my belongings and I was told are no records of my claim. Good thing I have the receipt and all documentation! My stuff is still missing up to now!

  16. Triangle Drifter says:

    They are on a money grab. Desperate. Anyone else had a call from customs recently questioning money paid on a big value item going back over 10 years?

  17. edwin says:

    Why are you all raising crap it’s all the same just that instead of one line coming from the baggage hall there’s two,making it easy for theperson that has nothing to declare. I guess the one’s that are complaining are the one’s that they should be checking for undeclared items,and the reason for such action.

  18. Dee (Original) says:

    @ Nitty Gritty, the penalty only comes into effect when you have mis-declared a certain amount. We aren’t talking about a pair of socks, we’re talking about deliberately not declaring the correct amount. Truth be told there are people that will try to cheat the system. Everywhere in the world there are taxes, and with taxes come tax cheats.

    • Truth is killin' me... says:

      And our isand was built on tax cheats! Think about that one a$$!!!

      • Dee (Original) says:

        Why the name calling? You either have anger management issues or you simply cannot handle the fact that people differ in their opinions. You talk about “bad apples” but how about examining your bad attitude? Its people like YOU that is why Bermuda’s social values are on a decline. No respect for anybody….

  19. James says:

    The new system brings us into line with the rest ofthe world. If you declare all you buy and pay the duty you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

  20. James Goodfellow says:

    Will these fines and punishments apply to the customs officers’ fiends and extended family?

  21. Pitts Bay says:

    Edwin – no problem with the two lines. Good idea and in line with the rest of the world. HOWEVER, why make you pay before you choose Red of Green. Surely, if you choose Red, that means you have something to declare and the cashiers should be through that area. Logical, makes sense, and what happens in the rest of the world.

  22. Xman says:

    It looks like Desperation has set in on all Govt.Departments.
    so this doesn’t surprise me.- infect I saw this coming.
    Were dealing with a Govt. Department here that in terms of attitude it ranks along side TCD.
    The problem with customs is the employers lack of U.S. consumer pricing knowledge on many products being bought to Bermuda simply because many Custom Officers don’t travel that much and I know from experience.
    Example: I purchased a 36inch flat screen TV for $229,and a DVD Player for $69 from JR of New York – the Customs officer told me that these prices are not true after I had shown her my receipt directly from JR but she had insisted that these prices are not real.-in the grace of God a Senior Customs officer came over and inspected my receipt and said I have seen these TV’s for less and the computer receipts looks legit. – saved by the bell because the nasty Customs Officer Women was about to eat me alive.
    The worst part about going on a Trip is when you return and go though Customs.
    This is a fine opportunity to say that I hate it when the West Indian Policeman from the Narcotics dept. that from time to time works with customs ask me for my Passport. [something's not right here .]
    as Bermuda’s Financial situation becomes worse I expect a lot of North Korean type policy’s to take place.

  23. tricks are for kids.. says:

    Thank you for that James……just declare and pay and you won’t have anything to worry about……All this is it fair, is it right, Government trying to get money etc….is it right when YOU yourself are trying to defraud the Government by falsely declaring????…….

  24. bump says:

    Government continues to turn the screw and squeeze every dollar from the public.

    When the PLP say look at all the free stuff we’ve been providing, it comes from YOU and ME!

    When PLP politicans drive around on weekends in their GP car or fly first class on pointless trips, it comes from YOU and ME!

    When PLP politicans make poor decisions and over pay in major projects to friends and family it comes from YOU and ME!

    The PLP are very aware they have run the kitty empty! So now they are increasing taxes here and there. They are aware many who don’t wish to support corruption will look at how to avoid doing so.

    By paying taxes the public is supporting and enabling theft of our money. In time as more people lose their jobs, they won’t have money to pay taxes. There will be nothing government can take from them. The more that happens the more pressure they will put on those still working. That would be YOU and ME!

    A vote for the PLP is a vote for finacial slavery!

    • GoodIdea BadIdea says:

      I was also told last week that you will no longer be able to “strike out” items on receipts that aren’t physically with you. For example if you go to a store, buy a weeks’ worth of groceries and an iPad while you’re away, eat the groceries and only bring back the iPad, you cannot strike out the food and only declare the ipad on the same receipt.

      So now (for the convenience of Bermuda Customs) you’ll have to ask for separate receipts for goods accompanying you back to Bermuda.

      This is the way I understand it AFTER bringing in a bunch of things from a trip away where the receipts were carefully checked, added up and the non accompanying items struck off. I was told that when the new system comes into place I would have to pay a “penalty”.

      Doesn’t make sense to me…

      • Zombie Apocalypse says:

        That does sound like nonsense.

        A receipt for multiple items does provide evidence of the value of what was imported, even if it also includes items that were not imported.

        Sounds like one of the Customs people making up new ‘rules’ off the top of their head. I’ve had that happen before.

  25. Crystal says:

    I wish custom agents got fined for treating people with disrespect.

  26. Concerned says:

    How many new that if you pack family belongings in your suitcase all bags can be confiscated?? happened to a friend of mine

  27. Upset Bermudian says:

    This is only adding to the already extremely unpleasant Bermuda experience at the Airport… Last time I came home, I was hassled over 5$ in Duty, Spoken to as if i was a criminal as I get no allowance as a non-resident Bermudian (I am a Bermudian that lives abroad now) – I just find it painful knowing some customs officer who knows ZERO about you and your life can Randomly choose to decide what they feel is new and old, you need to jump through hoops to proove you own your OWN items and they confiscate it – Wipe Bermuda off my Travel list… It’s a sad little country under a Misguided PLP government. I find The PLP Government an offense to Bermudians in the way they treat you in order to fix their own fiscal failure… Paula, Pay for all those checks you signed yourself!

  28. Kiskadee says:

    They should have someone checking to make sure all the family and friends of custom officers are paying duty….

  29. Dee (Original) says:

    There are no doubt nasty Customs Officers, just like there are nasty bus drivers, salespeople, police, etc. Some people are just nasty by nature, and I guess that’s multiplied 100 times when given a badge and a little power. However, they have a boss too and I recommend making a complaint if it is truly justified (not talking about making stuff up just to get one’s own way). On the positive side, this enables people to take their goods with them and not having it actually confiscated. I think at Christmas it is even worse, as in the past you couldn’t get your stuff until the new year. Like someone posted earlier, declare everything and you have nothing to worry about. The penalty portion of it is nothing new, only now you are paying it on the spot instead of at the end of a lengthy investigation period.