Customs: Does it matter if I come back with more than I left?

#1 Dec 24th, 2014, 09:23
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#1
I have a question that I can't find an answer for...

If I leave the USA with one checked bag (which is actually a large empty suitcase with another slightly smaller empty suitcase inside), and I return with two checked bags, will that trigger problems with customs? Do they track such things, and insist that if I come back with more then I need to pay customs fees?

My daughter is a young clothing maker (so proud of her--only 19 years old!), and I'm going to buy fabric for her before departing Delhi (share any great resources for great deals on fabric in Delhi if you know of any!). So, I'll have two empty suitcases that I can fill with fabric for her. Just wanting to know about the customs thing...will it be an issue?

Thanks!
#2 Dec 24th, 2014, 11:54
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Some amount of shopping abroad is expected- isn't it? Why should the customs object if it is non-dutiable goods?
But commercial quantities of anything may be a problem. I do not know if they would consider two clothes full of fabric as commercial quantity.
#3 Dec 24th, 2014, 12:05
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I think that this might be the relevant regulation From https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...3D/suggested/1

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For instance, if you are returning from countries other than the Caribbean countries or U.S. insular possession you are entitled to an $800 duty-free exemption and the next $1,000 worth of the goods you purchased is subject to a flat rate of 3%. If the value exceeds $1,800, the remaining duty will be determined based on duty rates in the harmonized tariff schedule, which are generally between 0-10% (except for clothing and textiles, which can be much higher, up to 25%).
#4 Dec 24th, 2014, 12:08
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#4
I don't know of anyone in Delhi, but if you're in Varanasi, I have a contact for very nice (and mostly vegetable dyed) cottons. Perhaps if you bought at one shop, they could send it to you back in the States. They may even be aware of import/export/customs regulations.
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#5 Dec 24th, 2014, 17:30
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From the numbers quoted in Dave's post, I think youre probably at risk to pay more for excess baggage than customs duties.
meh...
#6 Dec 24th, 2014, 19:22
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by GypsyArdor View Post I have a question that I can't find an answer for...

If I leave the USA with one checked bag (which is actually a large empty suitcase with another slightly smaller empty suitcase inside), and I return with two checked bags, will that trigger problems with customs? Do they track such things, and insist that if I come back with more then I need to pay customs fees?

!
No, they don't count bags out and bags in. I regularly travel with an empty case, a case full of ...a case, or even buy new luggage abroad. They count the value, not the size. You just need to check what is dutyable by your country. note that, for instance, different fabrics may be treated differently. Silk may be different to cotton

I doubt that India would be interested in the "export" of a quantity you can check in on a flight.
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#7 Dec 24th, 2014, 20:11
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DB, I'd be interested in learning about that contact as well
#8 Dec 25th, 2014, 01:34
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#8
Okay, all is good then. Thanks so much for all the comments and information!

We can't afford $800 of spending, so we're well under the requirement of paying duty fees. Good to know they don't count bags in/bags out!

Varnasi will wait until our next visit, so for now anything we buy will be done in Delhi...the last leg of our trip, so we aren't carting anything around with us. I'm hoping to find some places that have great deals.

Thanks, again, everyone! Happy holidays and new year to all of you!
#9 Dec 25th, 2014, 01:45
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#9
Tyler, the shop is Ganga Handlooms. It's up Vishwanath Lane. Kinda tricky to find (once there, you'll know why ). All I can tell ya is that it's on the left, down a sub-alley The owners name is Sunil. His tailors ROCK! You can buy from his stock, he'll knock-off anything you have as sample . . . Just a truly good man who does nothing less than exceptional work
#10 Dec 26th, 2014, 14:30
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#10
I also often take round trips with more bags in one direction than the other. There is no record of how much you carried on the other leg, and nobody asks about that, though of course they do ask about the value of goods obtained on the trip or something like that.

If one of your bags will be mostly just filled with cloth, you'd get an extra few kilos of baggage allowance by taking a simple zipper bag rather than a small suitcase inside the outer suitcase. I often travel one direction with a small suitcase inside of a big suitcase, but it's because I tend to bring breakable things back, like pottery dishes or kitchen gear. You could even forego the big suitcase, and start out with the smaller one, and then use a big duffel bag for the cloth gifts and your own clothing, and reserve the suitcase for delicate or lock-worthy things.
#11 Dec 26th, 2014, 22:16
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#11
Yes, packing clothes, cloth and absolutely unbreakable things in a cheap, light bag is a very good idea. Tie it with rope: the zips are cheap too!
#12 Dec 26th, 2014, 22:19
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#12
I always find you have plenty of time on the return flight to freak out with worry over the possibilities of customs calling you out, and then when you go through it's no big deal. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't notice that you took one bag out--US Customs doesn't check people as they leave the US, I don't think. And they expect you to do some souvenir shopping. They don't exist to play "gotcha" with tourists who spend a penny over $800--they exist to monitor for unauthorized business. So unless it looks like you're carrying enough to stock a fabric shop, you'll almost certainly get waved through.

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