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Unread 06-07-2008, 02:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Some of you may already know that I'm planning on taking my guitar to India in a couple of weeks.

I have heard that when customs officers in India see equipment they begin to ask too many questions and also threaten to charge duties and taxes if you cannot convince them that you will take your instrument back. This can be avoided by bribing them but I don't want to do that.

Do any of you declare your instrument at Airport Customs when you leave the US for another country? I want to know what the procedure is.

In India for instance, if you are carrying say an instrument or film equipment, you can declare it to customs and they give you a receipt saying that you are taking this stuff abroad and will be bringing it back.

Please help out if you can.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 02:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

you are nuts for taking it!
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Unread 06-07-2008, 03:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

sorry bro, I'm not international
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Unread 06-07-2008, 03:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhimanyu View Post
This can be avoided by bribing them but I don't want to do that.
This can also be avoided by leaving the guitar at home.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 03:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Are you travelling in the capacity of a musician? If so, then it would be no different than a businessman taking a laptop.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 05:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Man i'd think twice about taking a guitar with me to India. Especially if it's expensive!
If you just want something to play on, just buy a cheap copy from there. And bargain hard don't let them rip you off.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 05:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Like I said, if Seattle (SeaTac) Airport has the procedure where you can declare goods that you will bring back, I can completely avoid dealing with customs in India.

I'm pretty sure if any Airport in the US has it, Seattle should have it because it will be a CBP (Customs & Border Protection) issue.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 05:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Up to you bro. Not to be pessimistic about India (i spent 5 months there and loved it) - but once you're there you can't make the rules, they will. It helps to be assertive though. You must also guard against it being stolen. Even from your lodging. That may mean carrying it around with you in a hot climate.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 05:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

I think if it is used and for your use - not selling it in India - you should be able to take anything of any value. There is a bit of a gray area, so it will be interpreted by whomever you deal with there. Just leave it at home and buy a knock off there...

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Unread 06-07-2008, 05:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Dont take it!!!!!!!!!
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Unread 06-07-2008, 05:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

This has made me look at US laws in this regard http://www.kron.com/global/Story.asp?s=670696 When I return to the states, I will have the Les Paul I purchased for $1,000 in Korea. According to Sample Customs Declaration Form - CBP.gov usually, the first $800 of value is duty free - meaning I will have to pay about a 5% duty on the remaining $200 (=$10). You will notice that if you are a not a resident of the US and will leave with what you bring, it is exempt. Also, if you are a US citizen, only items purchased abroad are subject to the duty. The Indian rules parallel this, meaning if you plan to leave with the guitar you bring in, no duty will be owed - you should only pay duty on what will remain in the country you are going to - of course, this is open to interpretation by the official at that particular time...

Do not consider bribery - may get you in more trouble than you like - even though duties in India range from 5-40% Custom Duty In India, Central Board Of Excises Customs India, Indian Customs Act, Indirect Taxes & Related Info

Then you have to consider the possibility of it being broken or lost on the way there or back as well as theft while there.

Don't bring it, is my final advice for you.
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Unread 06-07-2008, 09:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

I would leave the guitar home. I have travel abroad many times and have seen a lot of problems specially with expensive equipment.

I had a friend lose a expesive Martin Acoustic guitar in India. I would recommend buying a cheap guitar to take overseas. Something that if they decide to keep you wont regret.

I use to take a cheap acoustic guitar with me when i had to travel anywhere in the world.

Also remember that 90 % of the time you have to check in you guitar so i would suggest that if you must take your expensive equipment with you that you invest in a travel case
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Unread 06-07-2008, 11:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

I took my acoustic guitar to India last year, and it was a bloody hassle.

To be honest with you, it's more trouble getting the damn thing on the plane than getting it through customs. There was no way I was going to declare it as checked baggage, but getting the stewardesses to stow it in a closet on the aircraft was like pulling teeth.

When I transferred airlines in Mumbai, I almost had my guitar confiscated by customs. They opened the case and figured it must be expensive, so they tried to give me nonsense about it not being declared on my passport...which, according to the officers imagination, is illegal. I remained polite, but would absolutely not let anybody take it from me. I told them repeatedly that my travel agent assured me there was no such policy in place with India customs (all BS, by the way...but I kept insisting). Eventually, the officers decided it wasn't worth their while and let me pass.

I was probably very lucky though. I was traveling with my girlfriend, so maybe that had something to do with it. Safety in numbers. If I was traveling alone, they'd definitely have taken it without any hesitation.

Just be careful. Don't take ANYTHING abroad that you can't afford to replace, should something happen to it.

Enjoy your trip! India's amazing.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 12:05 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Leave the guitar at home and just buy a cheap one there to play. 2 things:

1. As mentioned here, most Indian airport and customs officials are corrupt and will need to be bribed ridiculous sums of money to let you slide by. No use going to the cops, they're just as corrupt. You will end up paying off a lot of people which would equate (if not surpass) the value of your guitar.

2. Travelling anywhere by plane with a guitar is just asking for trouble. Think: lost luggage & mishandling (even if you affix a "Fragile" sticker) by airline loading crews among other reasons. I am most certain that your guitar will not be allowed as a "carry-on" item since it is too large to fit in the overhead bin or under the seats therefore, you will have to check that in.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 04:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

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These guys made the first LP I ever bought. Shape wise its VERY satisfying. Tone wise it aint bad. Pricewise, you cannot beat it. It was this guitar that I converted into a BFG.

At $150, if this got broken or confiscated, Im sure youll get over it.

You seem AWFULLY bent on taking a GIBSON BFG with you to India. Are you sure its not your intention to sell it? That would make sense. But honestly, this whole business about just taking a GIBSON just to have it around... I think its foolish, and dangerous. I think you wont be happy until this this is broken or stolen.

All these unrelated people from this website giving the SAME advice (leave the guitar at home, avoid trouble, if you must take it take a flight case...) This isnt hazing. Its not coincidence. Its people who have heard your plan and want to help you avoid heartache.

You just seem so determined to ignore the advice.

Like I said, at the rate youre going, I see no reason it wont end in tears. But I dont wish that for you. I hope you travel safe and everything goes well. Also... you might wanna tone down all the talk about bribing Indian officers. Im sure you didnt register with traceabel personal information...

But how many people do you think will travel to India this year carrying single Gibson BFG guitars with them? If the cops stopped all TWO of you, it wont take them a long time to bust the right guy. Take it easy on the language...

Good luck.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 09:49 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

I did some work in india and had to bring a lot of work related items there . They tore thru my stuff and left it there on the floor of the airport for me to repack in the boxes they tore up, mind you I still had to come back to the good ol' USA and find a way to pack this stuff up to survive coming back home. Yes they are corrupt I entered the country with no visa and had one within a half an hour. I would say don't do it if you don't have too.
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Unread 06-09-2008, 08:58 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

I used to work for a major airline for 11 years. I've seen the good and bad when traveling with musical gear. If it were me, I'd leave the guitar home. Even if you don't have issues with customs, you going to have some worry involved in checking the guitar and potentially having some "bagsmasher" damage it enroute.
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Unread 06-09-2008, 10:05 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

leave it at home. Seems like itsa lot of hassle than just buying a copy from india than taking the risk of taking the gear with you
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Unread 06-09-2008, 10:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

A couple of years ago I carried a piece of technical equipment into India (Mumbai) as part of a business trip. Before I went I asked the Indian Embassy in the UK what was needed for customs clearance and followed their advice to the letter. Had all the documentation prepared beforehand, letters of ownership, etc. etc.

I got about 10 feet from the luggage conveyor before I got pulled up by customs. They would not accept any of my documents. The customs officer in charge (for that shift) said that I needed a carnet (which I was specifically told I would not need) and that the equipment had to be impounded, which it was.

After he went off shift, the new guy said I needed a bank guarantee or bond to the value of duty that would be payable had it been imported. This would be held by customs until the goods were seen by them to be leaving India.

It took five days. Some of those were spent at the airport trying to get through all of the red tape. Even when we'd finally got all of the correct papers to suit the demands of the particular customs officials, it took me 15-hours to actally get the equipment handed back to me so that I could then go and so the job I'd travelled there for.

And when I went to fly out, I needed to find a particular guy to sign-off on the banker draft, otherwise they would have let me leave and then cashed it in.

I would not try and take anything of value (financial or personal) into India. I would certainly not expect it to be pain free..

Good luck...
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Unread 06-09-2008, 11:38 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

All this talk doesn't make me want to pack my bags and head off to a vacation in India anytime soon. Sounds like it would be more fun to go to Tel Aviv or Tehran instead.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 05:51 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

I spoke to Customs and Border Protection today.

They said I can declare my personal effects (the guitar) at a port office in Seattle or Tacoma and they will fill out CBP form 4457 for me. On filling in the form and signing it I will be handed a declaration certificate that I can show to Customs in India.
On returning I need to head up to a CBP officer and they will inspect the equipment and see if it matches and then I can go home.

All seems like a simple procedure.

Also I am an Indian citizen residing in the United States and have dealt with customs before. They can be a pain in the ass if you are not Indian.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 05:58 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuroyama View Post

You seem AWFULLY bent on taking a GIBSON BFG with you to India. Are you sure its not your intention to sell it? That would make sense. But honestly, this whole business about just taking a GIBSON just to have it around... I think its foolish, and dangerous. I think you wont be happy until this this is broken or stolen.
The reason I'm taking the Gibson BFG with me is because it's my only electric guitar right now. I plan to play gigs there with my old friends from high school over the course of three months.

If I was planning to sell it, why on earth would I want to know about "declaring a guitar to customs"?

And yes I bought a flight case for it yesterday.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 08:43 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

AB

Congrats on the flight case. Im glad to see that the words of the people here might have made a difference. IMO is not the destination thats a problem. Its the distance multiplied by the fact that airlines are well known to be destroyers of personal goods, and that Gibson Les Pauls are easily destroyed when mishandled.

You also mentioned that you are not rich. It would be a shame to see such a nice possession (no doubt hard earned) get destroyed because proper precautions were not taken.

I for one and glad you got a proper case, and I wish you, and your BFG, safe journey.

(I do however secretly hope that the case takes a nice (purely cosmetic) ding that in no way harms the guitar, but illustrates what might have happened without - Im just petty that way!)
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Unread 06-10-2008, 09:07 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuroyama View Post
(I do however secretly hope that the case takes a nice (purely cosmetic) ding that in no way harms the guitar, but illustrates what might have happened without - Im just petty that way!)
I would consider it a badge of courage.

Anyway, now knowing you are from India makes a lot of difference. I agree with Koroyama that the plane flight (how many connections?) poses the greatest risk.

I hope to hear how it went and any advice you can give us based on your upcoming experience.

Have fun.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 10:02 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhimanyu View Post
The reason I'm taking the Gibson BFG with me is because it's my only electric guitar right now. I plan to play gigs there with my old friends from high school over the course of three months.
OK, now we know why you insist on taking it: You want to show it off to your friends in India! j/k
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Unread 06-10-2008, 10:07 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

thanks for the replies guys. I leave on the 18th. Will post here on the 19th let you know how it went.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 10:14 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

hm? On the 19th whose time? I havent checked the time/date zones yet.... Ill still in denial over the US/Japan diff. Its currently 12:13PM June 11th over here.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 10:17 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Sounds like a fun trip! I can completely understand your wanting to bring the guitar with you, and I hope all goes smoothly for you. Have a great time, and let us know how everything goes!
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Unread 06-11-2008, 01:29 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Those less talls are indescribably beautiful. Maybe Abhimanyu could ge one of those through Indian customs without paying baksheesh.
This is probably asking too much but do they play?
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Unread 06-11-2008, 02:01 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Declaring Guitar at Airport Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhimanyu View Post
Like I said, if Seattle (SeaTac) Airport has the procedure where you can declare goods that you will bring back, I can completely avoid dealing with customs in India.
US law doesn't apply in India. You'll have to deal with their customs officers either way, and as you know they'll apply the law as they see fit.

Besides, declairing goods to that you intend on bringing back US Customs is so that US Customs doesn't charge you duty on something that you already own and thus aren't 'importing'. It provides you no protections against import duties when entering another country as you're completley subject to their import laws and not the US's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhimanyu View Post
Also I am an Indian citizen residing in the United States and have dealt with customs before. They can be a pain in the ass if you are not Indian.
Well, atleast you'll be able to haggle with them better. I'll be interested to see how this turns out.
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