Chinese Customs Declaration – tips for staying out of trouble. As a customs official, one thing’s for sure: their job of handling the everyday rush of tourists, migrants and businessmen arriving at the customs is no walk in the part. The never-ceasing queues don’t help – most customs official try as hard as they can to work towards a queue-devoid airport. As such, if you’re in the way of their dream, be prepared, for the lack of a better phrase, “to land in hot soup”.
However, you can be assured that Chinese customs checks are normally no big deal for travellers heading into or out of China. There are reasonably generous limits for most items and you’ll find that customs inspections are normally very straightforward.
Still, committing breaches to the Chinese laws are sure ways to get yourself up close and personal with one of the worst experiences you can get in China. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up a few dollars lighter. If lady luck ignores your pleads, it’s time for, however unapt the moment for a stand-up comedian’s quote, Russell Peters’ classic, “You go to jail, bad boy!”
There are some simple ways to avoid getting caught in “No man’s land” and that means you should understand what you need to declare and what you don’t before heading through customs.
Inbound Travellers to China – Chinese Customs Declaration
When you arrive in China it’s a good idea to ask for a Chinese customs declaration form if you have any of the following items – if you don’t and you’re caught you may be fined.
Animals and/or plants and/or products made from them
Microbes, blood products (such as plasma), human organs and any other biological material
Chinese residents have to declare any personal items worth more than 5,000 RMB
Non-residents must declare any property that’s worth more than 2,000 RMB that they intend to dispose of or leave in China
Alcohol limits are very generous – you only have to declare alcohol that is over 12% ABV and in excess of 1.5 litres
You are allowed 400 cigarettes (or cigars) or less but if you have more you should declare them, the same goes if you have more than 500 grams of tobacco products
If you bring more than 20,000 RMB in Chinese country or more than $5,000 USD of foreign currencies you’re required to declare it
Radio and communications equipment (excluding most cell phones) must be notified to customs officers
This is a good “general” list. However, you should still check with customs officers if you’re unsure with the exact details of what not to bring into the country.
Outbound Travellers from China – Chinese Customs Declaration
There are certain items you must declare on leaving China too:
Antiques and cultural relics
Any endangered species or living creature
Gold, silver or other precious metals
Any goods that are valued in excess of 5,000 RMB that you intend to bring back into China
Radio and communications equipment
As with all these things you should always check with customs if you’re not sure before trying to leave the customs area.
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