Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the Bahamas

Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the Bahamas
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Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the BahamasA Pristine Beach in the Bahamas.

Are you ready to make your move, to any of the over 700 islands, islets or cays in the Bahamas? If so, you’re no doubt excited about your upcoming change of scenery. You’ll enjoy picturesque beaches, amazing snorkeling in the clear waters and sunny skies. The speed of life is also much slower and you’ll be able to savor the fresh seafood that’s prominently featured in Bahamian cuisine (1).

However, before you can relax, unwind and take in all of the sights and sounds the Bahamas has to offer – you must do the unpleasant chore of planning and executing your move. International relocation can be a difficult task, and it’s easy to find yourself in over your head. This is why working with an international moving company that has a proven track record is so important.

Yet, even with their professional guidance, you’ll still be responsible for collecting all of the necessary paperwork and paying all of the fees. For this reason, you’ll need to be informed beforehand, about everything that the process entails.

What Duties Will You Pay?

Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the Bahamas
Staniel Cay, The Bahamas

Import duties to bring your shipment of household belongings into any foreign country, can range from free of charge to extremely burdensome. Unfortunately, this point isn’t clear, when it comes to your personal belongings and Bahamian customs.

Sources Disagree
One highly respected source claims that your used personal goods can be imported fully exempt from any duties. This is, provided that you only have reasonable amounts of each item in your shipment, and they are for your own personal use (not for commercial enterprise or to resell) (2).

However, a different source states just the opposite – asserting that you’ll be hit with an import duty of 35% of the CIF value. This is higher than just the value of your belongings, as it includes the cost of freight (or shipping) and insurance into the mix. A separate 7% stamp tax will be added to this as well, at least according to this particular source (3).

What Bahamian Customs Says
When sources disagree in this manner, it’s best to consult the customs website directly. Currently, the Bahamian customs website does have this 35% import duty listed. In addition, according to their site, your shipment will be charged value-added tax (VAT) of 7.5% – though whether this is assessed on all items isn’t clear (but it is likely). You’ll also be charged a separate environmental levy fee, however this is quite small. For example, on a $400 television this fee would be just $5. For a $10,000 vehicle, the environmental levy fee would still be a reasonable $200 (4).

Fee Calculation Examples
Where the process of calculating your charges gets more murky, is the status under which they are imported. For the examples given on the Bahamian customs pages, under both accompanied and unaccompanied baggage declaration forms (C17 or C18), you may be entitled to exempt $300 of a $400 television’s value for fee calculation. That means rather than paying the 35% import duty and 7.5% VAT on the full $400 value – you’d only be paying these charges on a value of $100 instead.

In contrast, examples on their website for courier/parcel list baggage declaration filing (C18A), do not show any such exemption. Therefore, duty and VAT are calculated using the full $400 value of the television.

Why Filing Status Matters
What’s the upshot of these different figures? When able to exempt most of the TV’s value under C17 or C18 filing – you’ll pay just $50.50 USD for duty, the environmental levy and VAT combined. When not able to exempt any of the TV’s value under C18A filing – you’ll pay the much higher $194.13 USD for all of these charges combined (5).

As you can see, filing status makes a profound difference on the total amount that you’ll pay. While a television was used in their examples, the differences in fee rates for different filing statuses, apply to many different items in your shipment.

Different Duty Rates For Specific Items
In addition to the varying total cost (dependent upon how you file and whether you can exempt most of the value of an item) – some specific items have different duty rates assigned to them. These changes were made after the recent implementation of VAT, and they can make the process of determining your import fees extremely complicated indeed.

For example, batteries are charged different rates, depending upon the exact type. Deep cycle batteries carry a 35% duty rate, whereas lead acid or automotive batteries are charged a 65% duty. The full list of items is extremely detailed, with barbeque sauce being charged just 5% duty but aluminum foil incurring a 30% duty. See here for a complete list of items, along with the rate they are charged.

Some Items Are Duty-Free
While duty exemption for your entire shipment isn’t offered, certain items are duty-free. The list is diverse, with items as different as computer printers and condensed milk both being exempt from import duty. See here for the full list of items.

Speak With Customs
With all of these intricacies in the duty and VAT calculation process, it’s vital that you learn beforehand the best filing choice for your shipment – and on what value these charges will be assessed. With such widely different final costs being possible, the best route is to speak to Bahamian customs for yourself. This will allow you to clear up any confusion, and determine how import duty, the environmental levy fee and VAT will be calculated on your shipment.

You will also need to work closely with a professional international moving company, who should help guide you through the process without any errors or missteps.

What Documents Will You Need?

Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the BahamasExuma, The Bahamas

While our discussion of fee calculation was quite involved, fortunately documentation requirements to import your shipment are refreshingly simple. When bringing in your personal goods, you’ll need to provide customs with your passport and entry visa. A packing list and a separate inventory list are also required. Also needed is a letter giving your shipping company or other third-party agent, permission to work with customs to clear your shipment (called a Letter of Authorization) (6).

You may also need receipts, your Original Bill of Landing or Air Waybill and possibly your driver’s license. A Home Consumption Entry Form (C13 Form) and a Declaration of Value (C43 Form) may also be required (7). Contact customs to determine the exact paperwork you’ll need to bring your items into the country.

Duties On Your Vehicle

Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the Bahamas One of the Famous Swimming Pigs in Staniel Cay, The Bahamas

In most countries around the world, your vehicle will be handled differently when attempting to clear customs. The Bahamas is no exception, and the import duty rate is based on the vehicle’s value. For a vehicle worth $10,000 USD or under, you’ll pay a 45% import duty. For a vehicle between $10,000 and $20,000 USD – this rate goes up to 50%. Finally, if your vehicle is worth greater than $20,000 USD, then a 65% import duty will be assessed (8).

Bear in mind, that an additional 7% stamp tax on your vehicle is reported by reputable sources (9). However, with the implementation of VAT in the Bahamas, stamp tax may have been rescinded or reduced. Again, you’ll fare far better if you speak with both Bahamian customs and your shipping company – to learn the exact fees that will apply to your specific situation.

Documents For Your Vehicle

Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the BahamasNassau, The Bahamas

The paperwork required to import your vehicle into the Bahamas, includes a Certificate of Title and Registration from your country of origin (copies are acceptable). You’ll also need the purchase receipt or invoice, if you bought the vehicle not long ago (10).

According to experienced international vehicle shipping company A1 Auto Transport, Inc – you’ll also need your passport, customs declaration form, Original Bill of Lading and proof of valid insurance. Once your vehicle is cleared for entry by customs, you’re also required to get it inspected, registered and licensed by the Bahamian Road Traffic Department (11). Registration charges are based upon the vehicle’s weight, and you’ll pay anywhere from $160 to $760 USD (which is virtually the same in Bahamian dollars at the current exchange rate) (12).

In order to process your vehicle, the Bahamian Road Traffic Department will need to see your Road Traffic Vehicle Information form – along with your driver’s license from your origin country. Be aware that while your current license will authorize you to drive in the Bahamas for the first three months after moving, you’ll then need to obtain a Bahamian driver’s license to legally operate your motor vehicle (13).

Continue reading “Importing Your Household Belongings and Vehicle Into the Bahamas”

Antigua: Sargassum forces hotel closure

Caribbean Sargassum
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Antigua Observer:– For the second time in recent years, the St. James’s Club has been forced to close after losing the battle against the dreaded sargassum weed.

The all-inclusive resort will be closed temporarily from July 1 until October 1. Chairman of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association Alex Debrito confirmed the information on Sunday.

An official at the hotel also told our newsroom that guests who are currently staying at the hotel will be transferred to other properties.

In recent days workers reached out to OBSERVER media, lamenting the situation and the impact it would have on their families, the business and the tourism sector on a whole.

Read full article online at stluciatimes.com

Festival of Chocolate in Grenada 2018 – Healthy Decadence!

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Grenada Chocolate Fest: 11 – 19 May, 2018

Chocolate Museum Grenada

Pic of Chocolateria inside Chocolate Museum above. 

Pic of cocoa bean mill inside Chocolate Museum. 

You’ll find (left to right) friendly staff at The Chocolate Museum – Kendra, Maria, Rina and Kay.

Have a passion for everything chocolate? The Grenada Chocolate Fest is a delectable event that celebrates the island’s delicious organic and ethically produced cocoa and chocolate. It is truly something to behold and experience for yourself. People sing, do the “cocoa dance” through the streets and douse themselves in liquid chocolate to celebrate this integral part of the island’s heritage.

In Grenada, the chocolate artisans craft famous ethical “tree to bar” products. During the festival you can “take a journey through the island’s rich history and visit cocoa farms nestled in its lush Caribbean rainforest… dance the cocoa or be a cocoa farmer for a day. Jam by the turquoise sea at sunset, and run through a cocoa forest! And when you are ready to relax and unwind, indulge in some authentic chocolate-inspired cuisine and luxuriate in cocoa-infused island life!” (http://grenadachocolatefest.com)

What’s more, because the chocolate produce on the island is so pure, central to their local history and world famous, there is even a Chocolate Museum in St. George, the biggest town in Grenada. They display a brief history of the island in terms of cocoa produce here and you can have a shot or shake of chocolate or buy cocoa butter or chocolate lava cake, all things chocolate. They also focus on the health benefits of pure, organic chocolate here. Did you know how good it is for you? Here are some benefits they listed at the museum:

  • Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals.
  • Potential Cancer Prevention.
  • Improved Heart Health.
  • Good for Overall Cholesterol Profile.
  • Better Cognitive Function.
  • Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid.
  • Antioxidant-Rich Superfood.

Photo of downtown St. George, Grenada from coolestcarib.com

So! Have some chocolate right now. And remember, it needs to be dark chocolate, preferably 70% or more cacao and sorry, no sugar, in order for it to have these health benefits . Without sugar it truly becomes an acquired taste.  A suggestion is to have it with stevia or honey if you don’t like the bitter taste.

Best in chocolate to you and hope to see you in Grenada at the chocolate fest!

More pics taken this week  in St. George, Grenada click here or follow us on Instagram.com/coolestcarib

More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at PUERTO RICO

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Since our blog titled, “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico” of 6 October, a few hundred Powerwall battery packs for solar power energy arrived in Puerto Rico.

According to *Frederic Lambert of Electrek.co, “The new shipment arrived not long after Musk spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello last week to talk about ways for Tesla Energy to help rebuild the power grid destroyed by the two hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean.”

That’s not all. Elon Musk is now putting extra effort into bringing power back to Puerto Rico AND other affected areas by unveiling his new Tesla Semi truck earlier than planned:

Tesla, the automaker, is changing the planned revealing date of its electric truck, the Tesla Semi, from October 26 to *November 16 (according to Electrek.co) as it focuses on Model 3 production and aiding “power-less” Puerto Rico.

Tesla Semi, Model 3 truck image from trucks.com

Currently, less than 20% of the island has power and some areas may experience months without electricity. That is why Tesla plans to first focus on helping hospitals and medical centers to get stable power.

Puerto Rico and Tesla seem to be committed to work together beyond short-term solutions and rebuild the power system to be more sustainable with solar power and energy storage. Continue reading “More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at PUERTO RICO”

An Incident Involving a Tree on a Beach

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I recall an incident involving a tree on a beach in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. I was taking a late evening stroll on the beach and came across some small, green apples (about the size of a small plum) that were washed up on the sand. I kept going and found the tree that carries these fruit. I picked it up and smelled it. It smelled sweet and as I put it in my mouth to taste it, realized what I was doing – it could be poisonous!

Turns out they are very sweet and extremely poisonous too. Dubbed as the ‘Death Apple’ tree by Columbus, it is also known by islanders not to even come in contact with these trees. They call it the Manchineel Tree. Stories of people who were hiding under these trees from the rain and had sap of these trees drip on them and who then died are well-known in the Caribbean.

Obviously I lived to tell the story, thanks to a wonderful doctor and nurse (I vaguely remember they were the only on the island) who had to be called late that evening because I was suffering from dizziness. A cortisone shot and some activated charcoal had me better within 10 hours, thankfully. But they assured me it could have been deadly.

Here are some pics of the tree’s fruit and an example of a sign that some resorts and authorities may place on the tree to warn people.

LizpianoLizpiano is a journalist, health lover and piano entertainer/singer who travels the world. She holds a B.A. degree with Music and Psychology as well as an MPhil (Masters) of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram: @lizpiano, Twitter: @thelizpiano,  Facebook: lizpiano.  www.lizpiano.com

Aruba – One Happy Island

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By Lizpiano.

ARUBA. This week Arubans are celebrating the return of the wind! One of the most beautiful islands you’ll ever see, here the wind never stops blowing in a, mostly, northerly direction. It is advised to wear a hat to prevent your hair from being blown into a wild, vagrant-like style. And make sure you hold on to that hat or tie it with a string to your head, naturally.

Picture of Eagle Beach

But if it weren’t for the wind, this island would be very, very hot. Unless, of course, there are hurricanes in the rest of the Caribbean occupying, so to speak,  all wind space. That is why Arubans have grown to celebrate the wind, make the most of it, they even miss it when it’s gone: “Aruba has been very hot and windstill lately, so now that the breeze has come back, the sails are out!” (Posted by @dushiyoga)

It’s been said that many a serious water sport enthusiast in Aruba have been very close to Venezuela at some point in their lives. That is, because the northerly wind might have taken them off-shore easily, especially if they are kitesurfers. It’s not that far away (about 17 miles), in fact you can see the country from Aruba.

Another good thing about Aruba is that its located at the southern edge of the Caribbean hurricane belt. So it avoids most of the hurricanes and storms that blow through the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean each year. So the best time to visit the island is always.

Some businesses listed on CoolestCarib.com include Casa Del Mar Aruba Beach Resort & Timeshare and Vela Aruba for kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayak rentals and lessons.

Vela Aruba

LizpianoLizpiano is a journalist, health lover and piano entertainer/singer who travels the world. She holds a B.A. degree with Music and Psychology as well as an MPhil (Masters) of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram: @lizpiano, Twitter: @thelizpiano,  Facebook: lizpiano.  www.lizpiano.com