It is a new era. One of electronics ban, senseless travel bans and inconvenient restrictions that add new layers of complexities to our itineraries. No matter how exciting the trip, it is necessary to jump through the hoops of visas and customs before dropping our bags and beginning our adventure.
In India, navigating airport customs can seen daunting. What can you bring? What can’t you bring? What is restricted? How much currency can you have on you? What electronics should you avoid? If flying to India, then press pause on those colorful, vivid daydreams of the Taj Mahal and read this guide to getting through customs.
1. Get ready for ‘The Form.’
Upon landing, you’ll be handed a questionnaire-type form prompting you to disclose what items you’re bringing into the country.
Many of the items on the list are standard – currency, plants, etc. – while others are a bit unusual such as Gold Bullion and jewelry. Double check your suitcase and make sure you’re not violating anything on the list.
2. Consider leaving your drone at home.
If your video game is sufficiently better than mine (which is to say you film with more than just a smartphone), then chances are you are traveling with a drone. Drone’s are key for aerial shots and getting the sort of stellar footage that turns a typical Youtube video into a cinematic experience.
If headed to India, be fair-warned that custom’s rule surrounding drones and remote devices are tricky. Some drone use requires proof of use for educational or research purposes, while other drones are confiscated completely. Your best bet is to check with your local India embassy if considering bringing a drone.
3. Bringing the good stuff…let’s talk about wine & alcohol.
If traveling to an exotic locale, you might be tempted to bring home a bottle of that local spirit to share with family and friends. If in India, your best bet is shopping duty-free. Yes, duty-free might be more pricey than that bottle of wine you spotted at the local market, but it does save you the hassle of risking a broken bottle in your carry on or – worse – confiscation. Per India customs, passengers can carry a maximum of two liters of wine and/or alcohol onboard.
4. Notes on wearing gold and silver.
One of the odder restrictions in India’s customs is the regulations concerning the carrying of gold and silver. In short, you can’t carry gold or silver in any form other than ornaments. To add an even odder twist, if you are a male you can carry up to 20 grams of gold or silver, while women can carry up to 40 grams. Thankfully, customs does not make you remove every gold item and weigh it, but it’s recommended to not come decked out in gold jewelry when flying as a precaution.
5. Traveling with antiques.
While buying antiques is not something I do personally namely due to the audible groan my wallet would make, many travelers love collecting international antiques. For India travel, you cannot bring any antique item through customs. The restriction is namely in place to prevent antique fraud as part of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws, which are notoriously strict.
6. Let’s talk about electronics.
Many travelers prefer to buy electronic items during their overseas journey for one simple reason: they come at a much lower price when abroad. Now the government itself has given one more reason to import electronic goods. In 2016, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry revised the custom duty provisions on all items, including electronic goods. Earlier, no custom duty was charged on the import of goods, having c.i.f (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) up to Rs 2,000. Now the limit has been raised to Rs 50,000.
A final note on traveler’s insurance…
As always, consider online travel insurance for any trips. I cannot say enough good things about travel insurance and the many benefits it offers – from offering medical assistance should you need it, to providing financial relief in the event of cancelled flights. Most travel insurance companies offer coverage of your trip at a reasonable price of less than $100 USD, which ensures the passenger for emergency situations, loss passport, etc. Although we never want to think about what can go wrong when looking forward to a trip, traveler’s insurance is just a smart move to make.
Have you been to India? Will you be traveling there soon? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions below!