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Old 02-03-2014, 12:02   #16
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Re: Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

there seems to be a problem with your attitude. It is THEIR country and THEIR customs regulations. It is not up to you how to interpret it or instruct them on who can properly do that. You have been directed to the appropriate part of their regulations which seem to back up what the Customs guy told you. Your complaint is that Noonsite has not yet been updated?

I suggest you take a deep breath, drink a beer, fix your mind on something pleasant and go back to Customs with a smile on your face. Apologize for any misunderstanding and do your best to comply with whatever they tell you. It is their country and their call. Piss them off at your peril.

PS - That is one hell of a tow rope
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:18   #17
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Re: Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

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Ah but the law does not say "replacement part." It says, a part.
A part can be anything affixed on the boat and possibly anything used on the boat. Boat parts.
Even if I bought your interpretation and definition, which I don't, I still wouldn't consider rope to be a boat part. It isn't "part" of the boat. It may be essential but it's an accessory to the boat. Same as fenders. Same as a grill for the deck.

What kind and how much rope did you have for $1700?

And if one feels they are charged incorrectly, then make the argument to the appropriate office. Maybe they'll agree with you. Or maybe they will enlighten you.
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Old 02-03-2014, 14:53   #18
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Re: Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

A friend recently bought in non-engine parts, including rope, all declared, via Nassau using a delivery service duty free. I have heard of several people bringing in parts in their luggage and being charged duty on everything.

Bahamians (naturally) do not like being told what to do by outsiders. You might have better luck using a Bahamian agent of some sort and regular shipping methods than arguing with customs agents at the airport.

Remember, there is no income tax, capital gains tax or sales tax in the Bahamas so import duties are a crucial source of government revenue. They take import duties seriously.
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Old 02-03-2014, 15:26   #19
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Re: Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

There's a new reality show up here in Canada called Border Security. Nothing glamorous or exciting, but a day-to-day of the customs people, mostly set in Vancouver—although there was one episode of an American boater in Sidney sent home by guys in a RIB because of a previous conviction. Anyway, it is remarkable the kind of arguments that people applying to get into Canada come up with to justify their point of view.

It's addictive, like watching a train wreck, and it puts a whole new perspective on how these people do their jobs. More to the point, the customs guys see hundreds of individual cases each week and they interpret the laws according to their best judgement. If you disagree, well that's your right, but you have to disagree from the other side of the border because nothing, absolutely nothing, says you are 'entitled' to be in their country.

If there is one thing that is slowly burning into my brain watching the show it's that. As citizens of our own countries we have rights. It just doesn't include visiting other countries.
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Old 02-03-2014, 15:45   #20
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Re: Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

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Remember, there is no income tax, capital gains tax or sales tax in the Bahamas so import duties are a crucial source of government revenue. They take import duties seriously.
But a 15% VAT is coming. Starting from July 1st.
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Old 02-03-2014, 15:54   #21
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Re: Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes. I paid the customs bill with a smile but under protest. But when officials refuse to justify their actions and do not comply with the law, it has to be corrected.
Of course I will file my request for adjustment on Form C-69 at the Bain Building on Thompson Road. With a smile. Because governments in the West Indies have this tendency to exceed their power and authority, leading to abuse of authority. It happens every day in The Bahamas.
Hey I could be wrong, but if I am, the customs supervisor should know the law, and should not refuse to provide an explanation other than "go and appeal if you like." That is their job. They should have a copy of the tariff schedule present and refer to it. If I ask to see the tariff schedule and they refuse to show it to me, nor to state the law under which they are assessing the tax, that is not correct. Instead gave me the name of a law that does not exist. If the supervisor would be honest with me, there would not be a problem.
I was honest with them. I did not have to tell me that the box of line was worth $1700. I could have told them $200 and they would not known the difference.
In January, the Executive Director of UBS was arrested while he was stopped at an immigration road bloc. Why? Because he is here on a work permit, and he had a notarized copy (legally equivalent to a copy) of the work permit on his person, but not the original. And there is no law that says that a work permit holder has to carry the permit with him or her at all times. The permit itself says nothing about keeping it with you at all times. The original was at work. He was apparently driving to work. Result? The executive was manhandled and carted off to jail.
Don't forget Atain Takitota, a Japanese tourist who lost his passport and was jailed for over 8 years without a hearing.
If you do not stand up for your rights, then you will be victimized. Some places have no law, okay. Like the DR. Its not worth fighting the bribe. Other places do have laws and can be held accountable.
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Old 02-03-2014, 16:23   #22
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Troubling experience today with Bahamas customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post
I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes. I paid the customs bill with a smile but under protest. But when officials refuse to justify their actions and do not comply with the law, it has to be corrected.

Of course I will file my request for adjustment on Form C-69 at the Bain Building on Thompson Road. With a smile. Because governments in the West Indies have this tendency to exceed their power and authority, leading to abuse of authority
So true, and unfortunately much closer to home , in fact at home too, but your point ?

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Old 02-03-2014, 16:41   #23
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

This new law is causing a bit of trouble here in the Bahamas for a number of cruisers this year. One guy I know was assesed a $495 fee on a $96 part. Now he has to appeal it and try to get his money back. Like that is going to happen in his lifetime. I need a part for my watermaker and a friend is bringing with him next week. It's a $289 part. I can't wait to see what I'm charged by customs.
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Old 02-03-2014, 18:01   #24
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

I've done business in many Caribbean and Central America countries. I always found it much easier and better to ship items in with fully prepared customs documents. Very few problems that way, but in two countries I won't identify (but not the Bahamas) you'd fly in late at night and always have problems. Either pay or leave the item in the office until you could meet with someone tomorrow. Hold your breath on it remaining in the office. But the late night airport staff just wasn't going to believe television monitors, dvd recorders, dvd cameras, etc. were business items, which in our case was tariff free going to a free zone plant. They thought it was people bringing the items for personal use.
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Old 02-03-2014, 18:40   #25
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

Well, at least we are getting the latest customs update information.

And yes, that is a hell of a tow rope for what must be a hell of a dingy.
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Old 02-03-2014, 18:53   #26
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

23 years ago, the situation was similar. Engines/engine parts had a low duty charge. Other stuff you could be reamed for, even though your cruising permit was supposed to save you from the duties. Someone I know quite well had to bring a new small outboard engine in via plane to Nassau, plus a whole lotta other boat stuff. They um…well…the engine was in a big box that said OMC all over it. So they hired a porter to handle all the luggage and went up to the customs agent and declared the engine and paid the duty on it. The porter had the other luggage and everything else was waved right through. That $5 for the baggage guy was well worth it to my friend.

Later, when I ran a mail forwarding service for cruising boaters, I told several customers of this story and some just might have used this technique themselves…I think the customs people know cruisers are generally too cheap to hire a red cap, so they assume you just have your resort clothes in your bags. I personally would never try such a thing, of course.
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Old 04-03-2014, 14:37   #27
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

Here is the update.
I went to the Customs headquarters. Not the Bain building. Customs officer at the airport was not honest about that point too.
Yes it was not correct to have been assessed duty for the boat parts. It looks like the government owes me about $1141, since I still have to pay duty on the $7 screwdriver, the $6 water filter wrench, two pairs of shoes and the wetsuit, minus the $100 exemption.
However, refunds are only paid via deposit to a Bahamian bank account.
But foreigners here have to get special bank accounts, to which NO deposits can be made from within The Bahamas. If I had a work permit that might be a different story, I am not sure. But I do not work here, and a work permit would cost about $10,000 a year or so for me.
So even though I am entitled to a refund, they will not pay me.
by the way, the code number for the cruising permit exemption is 9829.0070
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Old 04-03-2014, 15:13   #28
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

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Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post
Here is the update.
I went to the Customs headquarters. Not the Bain building. Customs officer at the airport was not honest about that point too.
Yes it was not correct to have been assessed duty for the boat parts. It looks like the government owes me about $1141, since I still have to pay duty on the $7 screwdriver, the $6 water filter wrench, two pairs of shoes and the wetsuit, minus the $100 exemption.
However, refunds are only paid via deposit to a Bahamian bank account.
But foreigners here have to get special bank accounts, to which NO deposits can be made from within The Bahamas. If I had a work permit that might be a different story, I am not sure. But I do not work here, and a work permit would cost about $10,000 a year or so for me.
So even though I am entitled to a refund, they will not pay me.
by the way, the code number for the cruising permit exemption is 9829.0070
I need a $300 part for my watermaker. I checked with customs in Georgetown yesterday and they told me it would be 45% duty. Watermakers are not boat parts therefore are not exempt. I even offered to show them the bad part which is supposed to replaced free under warranty, but they said zero values were not allowed. If the invoice showed zero value they would charge me duty on what they thought it was worth. It seems like legal theft to me. The original part was considered part of the boat when I paid my $300 to get in. It seems kind of arbitrary to me that the replacement part is not considered part of the boat, but then again most goverment is kind of arbitrary.
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Old 04-03-2014, 16:14   #29
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

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Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post
Here is the update.
I went to the Customs headquarters. Not the Bain building. Customs officer at the airport was not honest about that point too.
Yes it was not correct to have been assessed duty for the boat parts. It looks like the government owes me about $1141, since I still have to pay duty on the $7 screwdriver, the $6 water filter wrench, two pairs of shoes and the wetsuit, minus the $100 exemption.
However, refunds are only paid via deposit to a Bahamian bank account.
But foreigners here have to get special bank accounts, to which NO deposits can be made from within The Bahamas. If I had a work permit that might be a different story, I am not sure. But I do not work here, and a work permit would cost about $10,000 a year or so for me.
So even though I am entitled to a refund, they will not pay me.
by the way, the code number for the cruising permit exemption is 9829.0070
I would double check the information received as to how to get the money. First, I've never heard a foreigner can't receive deposits into a Bahamian account from the Bahamas. They can't receive pay for work, I know. Second, there is the use of a corresponding bank. Your US bank may very well be able to tell you how to do that. This doesn't require you to actually have a Bahamas account but a deposit is made to the corresponding bank and immediately transferred to your US account. The third thing is that I do believe customs has other ways of refunding money, although they prefer not to perhaps. As you've already experienced, receiving misinformation or opposing information is commonplace.

I call what you've encountered "Roadblocks." They are set up by many doormen along the way. Unfortunately, it is common in doing business in many countries. I might suggest since there is a sizable amount involved you find a local Bahamas agent who deals with customs all the time. They will know how to get around the roadblocks and the charge should be moderate. Bahamians know how things work in the Bahamas. But this is true in most countries and I've often had to use local people to accomplish what seemed like simple tasks.
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Old 04-03-2014, 16:50   #30
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Re: Troubling Experience Today with Bahamas Customs

Thank you for the suggestion on the use of a correspondence bank. I have friends in several of the banks here at the executive level and there is no way around the rule unless I get Central Bank approval.
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