Avoid some of the common mistakes made in filling out the
Jamaica Immigration & Custom Form.
How you can mess up the Jamaica Immigration Form.
A new immigration form was introduced in 2015. Thank goodness! Those who have been to Jamaica before then will no doubt remember the almost painful experience of filling out the immigration form, especially that confusing bottom portion for the departure information. Well, no more!
Although this form is much easier to complete, you still have to pay attention to what you are doing to prevent mistakes. Mistakes hold up the lines … not a good thing when you have a few hundred people trying to get to the wonderful sunshine outside.
- Use black or blue pen only. There are never enough on the airplane and people are always borrowing pens. Bring your own.
- Don’t be intimidated by the form. Slow down. Make sure you answer the right question on the right line.
- Complete both sides of the form as appropriate. The front of the form is the Immigration Form, which is one per person. The back of the form is the customs form, which is one per family or household, including children under age 18.
- The forms are included below in the post for your convenience. Please do not print them off and fill them out ahead of time thinking that you can use them on arrival. Sorry, you can’t. You would have to transfer the information to the real form that will be given to you during the flight.
The Immigration Form
- Each person, including children, will need a properly completed immigration form. If you want to be asked to leave the line and let others go ahead of you, have the form incomplete or do not have one for your child.
- All dates are written day first, then month, then year. For example, November 23, 2015 is written 23/11/2015. Do not write month, day, then year as they do in the United States.
- You must put a street address for your home address. Don’t put a P.O. Box number.
- You must know your address at which you are staying otherwise they will hassle you. Our villa has had situations where Immigration has called to verify that we have guests arriving. If you are staying at a hotel it is a little easier because you could just say the name of the hotel and the town. Usually, that is good enough.
- Technically, tourists need a return ticket and proof of financial ability to take care of themselves in Jamaica. I have never been asked for proof of either.
- Flight Number/Vessel Name is on your boarding pass.
- “Port arriving from” is the airport at which you got on the airplane to get to Jamaica. This is not necessarily the first airport from which you started your trip to Jamaica. If, for example, you started your trip in Chicago then changed planes in Atlanta and flew to Jamaica, Atlanta would be the port from which you are arriving.
- Question 11A asks about how many pieces of luggage you brought with you on the flight. Be sure to include hand luggage. If you have a backpack, include that in the count too. Generally, they don’t include a simple ladies’ handbag in the count. If your handbag is as big as a carry-on, they might include it in the count. The agents generally don’t pay too much attention to this for people who are clearly tourists. My personal feeling is that they look at the amount of luggage that you have to help them determine if you might have things to declare that you aren’t declaring. If you have a lot of luggage, chances are they will “randomly” send you for a luggage check.
- Question 11B refers to items that you may have shipped, usually by a freight forwarder. This does not refer to luggage that is arriving on another airplane.
- Question 12 is generally not referring to packaged food items. Usually, it is the fresh fruit you brought with you as a snack that they are worried about. Do your part to keep Jamaica safe. Do not bring plant or animal material into the island. If they find you with undeclared food items, the items will be confiscated. If you are Jewish and are bringing in kosher meats, this should have been arranged ahead of time and a permit or a meat inspection certificate obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture. With notice, the Jamaica Tourist Board can assist with this process.
- The immigration form asks about pharmaceuticals in question 12b. I just write “prescription medicines” and usually they don’t give a hassle. Make sure that your medicines are in the original prescription bottles, especially if they are narcotics. If you are on narcotic pain medicines, make doubly sure that you have enough for your trip because it is extremely difficult to get narcotic prescriptions filled in Jamaica. Repeat x 2. Also, they must be in the original prescription bottle bearing YOUR name.
- If you answer “Yes” to any questions between #11A and 15, except for prescription medicines for your own use, you will need to go in the “Items to Declare” line.
The Custom Form
- Only one custom form, which is the back of the immigration form, is completed per family or household (mother, father and children under age 18). Your children over age 18 are not considered children by immigration officials. All passengers over age 18 must complete their own custom form.
- Pay attention to your duty free limits. The form states a US$500 limit per person over age 18. Technically, it for holders of a Jamaican passport but now it seems they are being more lenient. Additionally, all passengers are allowed 200 sticks of cigarettes or 50 cigars, or 230 grams of tobacco. You are not allowed to have all three limits. In terms of alcohol, the limit is 1 liter of spirits and 1 liter of wine. It does appear that this can be combined. For more information, check out the Jamaica customs office’s website. It is not updated very regularly. Fair warning!
- Items to be declared generally relate to items that will be left on the island. So, for example, if you will be visiting family and friends and you have gifts for them, customs would expect that you would declare those items.
- What if you are bringing donations? It becomes tricky if you are bringing items to donate, say to a school or an orphanage. There is a formal process to go through, which most people don’t do, primarily because it is such a hassle.
- If you are a tourist and your donations fit in one suitcase, generally no one would even notice. If you are a tourist hauling two big suitcases, someone will probably notice you.
- If, for example, you are bringing loads of donations for a school, the Ministry of Education and the school would need to be contacted ahead of time so that someone from the school can be waiting for you to accept the items. Sometimes an official letter from the government acknowledging your gift will suffice. This happened to me many years ago. I had a suitcase full of donated stuffed toys that I had washed and were all looking new. I was so proud of myself and couldn’t wait to see the look on the children’s faces when I gave them out. I had no official letter. Unfortunately, the customs agent didn’t see my point. He felt that I could really be going to sell them and that I should pay duty. To this day, I don’t know what I said to him that changed his mind.
- The items won’t be confiscated but you could be required to pay duty based on the value that Customs assigns to them. If you are definitely below the $500 limit and you go easy with the excess luggage, you should be fine.
- If you have a lot of items you are donating and you don’t want to be hassled on arrival, then go through the proper channels. Let the organization to which you are donating do the leg work. That is the least they could do.
- A word of warning, Customs has access to the internet too. Undervaluing items is fraud, just like in the US. If you clearly undervalue items, the Customs agents have the ability to look in their valuation books and or the internet to determine an average price of the item in question to decide the value. To prevent problems, I usually carry receipts with me to show proof of purchase.
- Once you have completed the form, put it in the corresponding passport. You will need both when you approach the Immigration Desk.
Hopefully, this post will help you to fill out your Immigration and Customs form completely and correctly so that you don’t get sent off to the side to correct your form while all the other passengers go ahead of you to enjoy the sunshine that is waiting outside.
Have you been held up in Immigration or Customs in Jamaica? What happened? What can you share with our readers?
‘Til next time.
Think and dream Jamaica!
Sherry & Darrell
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